Hochstuckli, CH 03/05/16


For Euro Trip #2 this season, instead of flying out of my home airport Newark, I cashed in some AA miles, which means either changing planes at dreaded LHR or flying nonstop out of JFK. The latter was deemed the less onerous option so I schlepped my skis and boot bag on the NJ Transit commuter train into Hoboken:



Then took the ferry to my office in Lower Manhattan:


Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island:

Brooklyn Bridge:

That afternoon, I took the subway out to JFK to catch an early-evening flight to Zurich for what would be my very first ski visit to Switzerland. I've used ZRH as a gateway airport several times, but it was always to head east to Austria after being driven away by horror stories of how expensive everything was. With the Swiss Franc and the U.S. dollar converting almost exactly at 1:1 right now, I figured now was as good a time as any.

I've skied in Swiss territory several times previously by crossing over from a French or Austrian area that straddled the border like the Portes du Soleil, Ischgl, or Gargellen. As everyone knows, there are dozens of top-tier Swiss resorts/ski areas to choose from; however, I decided to try a comparatively low-elevation region that's only an hour south of Zurich and is off the radar of destination visitors: the canton of Schwyz (pronounced Schveetz), a gorgeous lake district.

Driving through fog and rain, I arrived by noon at my first stop, Sattel-Hochstuckli, a small family ski area whose claim to fame is having the world's first rotating gondola. Yes, it slowly spins clockwise so that everyone in each gondola car gets a view of the beautiful landscape, of which I was unfortunately going to see nothing as it was snowing like hell the entire day, right down to the base. The usable vertical is 2,600 feet, but most people stick to the upper 1,200: the Hochstuckli sector (pronounced HOKE STOOHK LEE), which is serviced purely by old-school t-bars.

Hochstuckli carte des pistes.jpeg

Arriving at the base in Sattel:

The famous rotating gondola:


Conditions were knee-deep powder offpiste and soft chop onpiste but due to the incredibly flat light and blasting snow (I had to stop every dozen or so turns to wipe my goggles), my pix aren't going to win any awards. This would not have been a good day to be above treeline


It was a nice day to play in the powder with my new-to-me Kästle BMX 98s. In addition to the tough sightlines, it was difficult to take any in-action photos because there were so few people around to use as subjects:




Time for a mid-mountain lunch:

In traditional restaurants throughout German-speaking countries, you often see signs with useful aphorisms. This one says: "One's time on earth is valuable; only crazy people try hurry though it." Fair enough.
Hochstuckli 4.JPG

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