Obersaxen/Mundaun, CH: 03/07/20

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Obersaxen/Mundaun, CH: 03/07/20

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Mar 09, 2020 7:44 am

Due to starting a new job late last year, I was only able to book one trip to the Alps this season thanks to a United FF award sale at 36K miles roundtrip. I flew out last Wednesday in the midst of the growing Coronavirus hysteria in the U.S. Here in Switzerland, they're definitely covering the story on radio, TV, and internet, but in real life, no one seems to be talking about it much and I haven't seen anyone wearing respiratory masks, despite being only 100 or so air miles from ground zero of the European outbreak in northern Italy. You've probably heard how many major ski regions in Italy, including the Aosta Valley and the Dolomites, have already shut down for the season -- I can't imagine the economic costs that's going to wreak.

In what is a repeated mantra about skiing in the Alps: whereas we in the U.S. always look forward to skiing through storm days, here in the Alps it's not necessarily a desirable situation because so many ski areas are mostly above treeline; thus, if you get extensive low-lying clouds/fog, it can turn into a vertigo-inducing challenge, even when skiing with locals who know their mountain backwards and forwards. That's what I got on Days 1 and 2 (I'll post about them later): really tough visibility, often a total whiteout, so we'll fast-forward to Day 3 when the weather cleared a bit for my arrival at the ski circuit of Obersaxen/Mundaun about 50 miles as the crow flies south/southeast of Zurich. It's just to the west of larger and more well-known Flims/Laax:

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By Alps standards, Obersaxen/Mundaun is considered somewhere between medium and medium-large in size with a reported 110km of marked trails. It's 5.5 miles across, about the same size as The Canyons and Park City combined, with huge expanses of offpiste skiing:
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Obersaxen can also lay claim to one of my favorite ski-area logos. I'm glad that they've kept it old-school/no flashy updating:
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My pix are OK but not spectacular and don't really show the expanse or gorgeous views. For that, check out these
stunning photos that an Austrian skier posted a few years back.

The first lift ride, it looked like 3-4 inches had fallen overnight; enough to freshen things up nicely offpiste.
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On my first run, there were still plenty of high clouds; however, visibility was decent enough so I followed this guy for a long run through soft bootcuff-deep snow. It goes way further down beyond the frame to the right.
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I like how this young girl appears to be skiing into clouds that look like the Chernobyl nuclear reactor:
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Traversing through the western quarter of the ski area:
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There's a really long run that wraps around the south-facing backside of the ski area, starting off by going through a massive cloud bank:
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Then clearing up a bit further down:
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German-speaking skiers love to do the sitting-down thing on cat tracks:
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Eventually, about 3,300 verts later you hit the tree line with snowmaking in key spots:
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I stopped in for a mid-afternoon coffee/dessert break here:
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A really enjoyable day at a ski area that's somewhat known, but overshadowed by larger, more recognizable mountains.
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Re: Obersaxen/Mundaun, CH: 03/07/20

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Mar 09, 2020 3:49 pm

My guess is that Obersaxen/Mundaun are much more reliable than Flims-Laax due to primary north vs. south exposure.
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Re: Obersaxen/Mundaun, CH: 03/07/20

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:13 am

Even though Obersaxen isn't known as a snow magnet, yes, it's primarily north-facing. Flims-Laax is on the same side of the valley as south-facing Brigels.
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