After skiing Friday ChrisC drove the hour from Engelberg to Andermatt, planning to ski there Saturday. On Sunday he had to drive back to Zurich airport to pick up his brother for their upcoming week in the Arlberg.
Meanwhile we had booked Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights in Andermatt, but the weather looked unsettled. With a storm expected to arrive Sunday afternoon, we decided to check out of Engelberg Saturday morning and drive to Andermatt to ski the north facing Gemsstock (far left of map below). I had been there 6 years prior, and that’s a very difficult mountain to ski in adverse weather. viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10788
We got to the Gemsstock base just after 11AM where we were allowed to buy a day ticket with a 6 franc discount. We met ChrisC at midstation, where he had already taken 3 upper tram runs.
The top 700 vertical or so of the tram was still in cloud when we arrived.
We skied down the 71 piste to skier’s right of the tram to the quite steep Geissgrat T-bar.
We ventured off piste for part of the run there, finding mostly chalky packed powder with occasional soft windblown powder.
Due to the flat light on that side we skied on or near the 70 piste for our next two runs. ChrisC got a nice off piste line here.
We decided to take a lunch break. When we came out of lunch about 2:30 the cloud had finally cleared from the top.
Here’s the view off the back of the tram.
We took the 70 trail again, but ChrisC and I found a nice off piste line skier’s right. Soon the tracks in front of us disappeared so we came to an abrupt halt and traversed left to the piste to avoid a cliff band.
After our next tram, Liz is at the split between the 70 and 71 pistes.
ChrisC and I later skied this gully, which had some wind crust up high but more windblown powder in the center where the 3 skiers are.
ChrisC and I traversed right into the general area of skiroute 72 on the map.
View of skier’s right side of upper Gemsstock tram:
We traversed left of the piste lower down for some soft snow.
If you go skier’s right on upper Gemsstock you need to take the Gurschenalp chair to return to midstation. From this area or piste 70 above it, anything off piste to skier’s left drops all the way to the valley floor.
There is also off piste to the valley floor to far skier’s right from upper Gemsstock. These are best explored with guides. Sunday is the only day of the week group guiding is offered in Andermatt. Liz and I cancelled our reservation when we saw the weather forecast.
It was nice to finally see Gemsstock and get a feel for its terrain. Our run of good weather came to an end after this day, but if you are there on a Sunday with good conditions it’s definitely worth hiring guides to get farther afield. I skied 19,200 and about 2K of powder despite the late start. ChrisC skied about 29,000.
Gemsstock reminded me of Alagna in terms of topography, but it’s much more reliable as it’s north facing and it averages an impressive 347 inches snowfall Nov-Apr at the Gemsstock midstation.