Area: Andermatt Gemsstock
4 (1 draglift)
Total lift vert:
Area: Andermatt Nätschen
4 (2 draglifts)
Total lift vert:
For a zoomable, scrollable map of the areas, see this online map using Openstreetmap or Opencyclemap.
Andermatt lies in the heart of the Swiss alps at a crossroads of major transport routes. From here, the Rhone valley runs West towards Brig, the Rhine valley runs East towards Chur, the Gotthard pass leads South to Ticino and a precipitous gorge leads Northwards down to Göschenen. It is therefore easy to reach by road or rail from many directions. The village itself is fairly compact, with the Gütsch area a couple of minutes' walk from the station, and the Gemsstock area around 5 to 10 minutes' walk through the village. Note that if you buy a day ticket for the Gemsstock, it's also valid for the other areas too, so you can take the bus over to another area for the afternoon if you want.
From Zurich, you need to change trains at Göschenen and possibly also at Arth-Goldau, but the total journey time is still under 2 hours. The cost of the return train from Zurich and lift pass (with halbtax card) is CHF 70, unless you're a student under 25 in which case it's CHF 65.
If you're not coming with a "Snow and Rail" ticket, then a day pass will cost you CHF 53 for Gemsstock (or CHF 41 for the Gütsch area).
There are two main, separate areas to ski - Gütsch is on the left as you face Oberalppass, and the much larger Gemsstock area is to the right. Gemsstock is much higher (up to 2960m), allowing quite a serious descent all the way down to the village (at 1450m). Both Gemsstock and Gütsch are within walking distance (or short free bus ride) from each other, and you can explore both in a single day.
On the Gemsstock you start off with a large cable car up to the mid-station, and then you have just 3 choices. There is a chairlift and a parallel drag serving some blues on the lower areas, a long and evil drag lift up to the left-hand side, and a single cable car up to the summit. A single cable car to the top is a bit of a bottleneck, and on sunny Saturdays can lead to ridiculously long queues. Going in either direction off the summit is a quite awesome experience, however, with arcade-game-like, fast, sweeping, rolling pistes just tempting you to open the throttle.
Off-piste is extensive, given suitable conditions, with plenty of piste-side soft that's not too steep or rocky. And due to the
simple shape of the mountain, the threat of ending up on the wrong side of a ridge or stuck in a dead-end is slim.
On Gütsch, the handful of slopes is served mainly by one four-person chairlift and a couple of drag lifts. The area covered is fairly small, but the southwest-facing slopes get more sun than those on the Gemsstock, so if you don't mind the T-bars then it's a good alternative. Lots of the runs are easy blues, which can get a bit narrow and clogged with traffic, but the runs by the Grossboden draglift are surprisingly empty. There is a mogully black for those who like that kind of thing, but it's exposed to both sunshine and heavy scraping.
The lifts here are not exactly high-tech (only one detachable chair!), but the queues are not too long.
Overall, these two areas of Andermatt make for a good day trip, and especially the Gemsstock provides a much different experience than others in this list. Refreshing variety, easy access, and reasonable prices make this one a favourite. Just a shame about those queues.
No major flat spots to speak of, on the Gemsstock. There are a couple of places where you need to keep your speed up (notably when traversing back round from the St Annagletscher), but they're quite short and easily passable with care, as long as the snow's not too heavy.
On the other hand the lifts on the Gemsstock are boarder-unfriendly, apart from the cable cars with their long queues. The long drag lift up to the left is very long and evil, jerking and tugging its way up the narrow and bumpy track. And they added some steep dropoffs and narrow bridges to make it more interesting. The antiquated two-seater chairlift is also not detachable, so even though it's a slow lift it still gives you a whack as you're getting on.
On the Nätschen side, the blues are flat but there's not too much walking or hopping required. One notable sticking point is coming back from the top of the right-hand drag lift.
26 April 2008 - very late in the season but they promised 20cm of new snow and wall-to-wall sunshine. Well they were half-right. The "snow" was rock-hard in the morning, even right at the top, and the off-piste crusty. Under the chairlift was better early on, but obviously got heavy in the afternoon. The black from the top was scraped entirly bare, and the home runs long closed. But the weather was fantastic!
5 January 2005 - not much snow around at all. The top of the Gemsstock is quite icy, and the home run is barely rideable at all (although signposted as 'fahrbar', it's better avoided. The runs under the chairlift are better, but quite short. On the Nätschen side, it's sunnier but the snow is a bit better, apart from the steep black down to Nätschen - again better avoided.
6 December 2003 - plenty of soft snow, plenty of sunshine and clear views, but plenty (and I mean, plenty) of people. The runs down to Andermatt are obviously not open yet, and there's no fun park, but the slopes are in good condition, with some lovely off-piste too.