9 (3 draglifts)
Total lift vert:
For a zoomable, scrollable map of the areas, see this online map using Openstreetmap or Opencyclemap.
Melchsee-Frutt is at the end of a side-valley heading south from Sarnen, which is itself on the way between Luzern and the Brünig pass. You can drive there, but it looks like parking is problematic - on the other hand, the post bus drops you right outside the cable car station.
From Zürich, you change at Luzern to get the train to Sarnen, and from there (after an annoying 20 minute wait) the bus to Stöckalp. The total time is around 2h15, with a "Snow and Rail" ticket from Zürich currently CHF 63, and a day lift ticket on its own CHF 44.
Melchsee-Frutt is not a massive resort, but there's a nice selection of blues and reds, and a fair acreage of off-piste available, conditions permitting. It's not particularly well-connected, however, and you have to take care to avoid the flat bits.
From the base at Stöckalp, there's a choice of two ways up - a gondola which takes you all the way up to Melchsee-Frutt, or a 3-chairlift combo up to the Bonistock area. Unfortunately, if you take the gondola, Melchsee-Frutt itself is slap bang in the middle of a plateau, so you're going to have to walk, either rightwards to the VogelBüel draglift or leftwards to the horizontal drag lift (just a grabbable cable) to take you over to the Erzegg and Balmeregghorn lifts. At least if you take the chairlifts up from Stöckalp you can get directly on the slopes.
Most of the Bonistock runs are blacks, and although much easier with fresh snow, they can get scraped bare later, making them reasonably tricky. The off-piste in this area is great though, particularly around the draglift. The blues and reds on the Erzegg / Balmeregghorn side are less daunting, and the off-piste is more open.
If you came here looking for jumps, you'll find a smallish jump park underneath the Erzegg chairlift, with 3 or 4 ramps, a few waves, and a couple of rails. There's also a single jump at the bottom of the Vogelbüel draglift, but the awkward walk to and from this area, and the extra little cable connection lift to bring you back up to the main draglift are a bit off-putting. The music pumped out from the sound system there is top-drawer though!
The home run is a long and easy blue, although horribly narrow in places and shared by sledgers as well as the hordes of skiers and boarders at the end of the day. Makes things tricky. At the time of writing there was plenty of snow down to the base station, but in less optimal conditions you may have to take the gondola down from Melchsee-Frutt.
As mentioned above, the whole Melchsee-Frutt area is on a plateau, so you won't be wanting to keep going backwards and forwards too many times in one day. There is a connection lift (a multi-stage horizontal cable drag) across to the Erzegg and Balmeregghorn lifts, but to get to and from the Vogelbüel area you'll be walking. The blue from Bonistock down to Melchsee-Frutt is also very flat.
The drag lifts here are relatively friendly, except maybe the cable ones (bring tough gloves!). Also note that the cable car from the Melchsee-Frutt area up to Bonistock (marked as 'F' on the map) is only a single cable car, not a pair, so queues can easily build up here.
13 March 2005 - un be LIEVABLE! So much fresh snow, everyone is smiling, the sun is shining and the off-piste is plentiful and forgiving. Perfect perfect perfect.
For hiking in the area, the Alpine Pass Route follows the valley just east of here between Engelberg and Meiringen.