Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Grindelwald Ski Report

English first/日本語は英語の後

I checked the weather forecast day after day, and realized that February 15h, Sunday would be sunny after the week-long rainy, snowy, and stormy weather. Therefore, I decided to go skiing. My next destination was Grindelwald. I rode a 6:01am Inter-City train from Basel via Bern to Interlaken Ost, (East). After arriving at Interlaken Ost at 7:57am, I transfered to the 8:05am mountain tram (named BOB). At Zweilütschinen (two stops away from Interlaken Ost), the train separated into two: one for Grindelwald and the other for Lauterbrunnen, from both of which one can however reach Jungraujoch. So, you can enjoy either a clockwise or counter-clockwise trip from Zweilütschinen through Grindelwalt, Jungfraujoch, and Lauterbrunnen back to Zweilütschinen.

The Jungfrau region has three ski areas from east to west: (1) Grindelwald - First, (2) Kleine Scheidegg - Männlichen, and (3)Mürren - Schilthorn. The second one, (i.e., Kleine Scheidegg - Männlichen) seems the biggest, and that's why I decided to ski there. However, The first gondola leading to this ski area does not actually starts from Grindelwald. As soon as I arrived at Gridelwald at 8:39am, I had to transfer to another mountain tram (called WAB) departing at 8:47am for Grindelwald Grund. But, the trick of this Snow'N'Rail pass is to exclude this short distance between Grindelwald and Grindelwald Grund. Furthermore, the pass requests a customer to obtain a lift ticket with the attached voucher here at the Gridnelwald station! Now, Murphy's law works as usual to such a short transfer time, for which there were a bunch of passengers including me who had to wait in front of two ticket counters. Needless to say, I had to wait for 30 more minutes to catch up the next tram (photo 1).

I arrived at Grund at 9:25am and rushed into the Intersport ski rental shop. From my previous lessons, I reserved a premium ski set. :-) Today's boots were Head. I became a little happy, because Head and Nordica boots tend to fit to my typical Japanese flat feet. (At Engelberg, I put on Salomon boots that were narrow enough to keep pressing the both sides of my feet.) However, despite their US size 8, I felt these Head boots were a bit too large, and asked a staff to get a one-size smaller pair, which were too tight and old Technica with some humidity. So, I ended up with the Head boots. It seems like they didn't classify boots in premium, economy, and even budget while the website did so with a different price. The skis they rated as premium were Salomon 3V race: (I'll tell you about how they were later in this blog.) Anyway, this rental shop charged me of premium skies and non-classified boots without any insurance, which was 65SFr in total. Hey, this was exactly the same amount as I paid two weeks ago at Engelberg for the economy skis, (i.e., Salomon Aeromax) and the insurance!

Anyway, when I got ready for skiing, it was already 9:50am. Then, Murphy's law worked again. I saw too many skiers slowly but eagerly moving toward only one small entrance of the gondola station like stagnant water almost clogged in a drain. It was just a chaos. No station staff arranged smooth gondola riding. In fact, I saw no staff helping skiers ride a lift all day long. This means every single lift-riding zone was just chaos unlike ski areas in US and Canada. It really appeared strange to me here in Switzerland where everything else is carried out under rules. I spent 1 hour before getting on this Europe-longest, 70s'-made, 4-people-riding, and tiny gondola which even took me 30 minutes to reach Männlichen, the first top of the mountains. There, the first thing I had to do was to insert my daily-use thin gloves into the boots' toes to adjust their fitness. It was 11:30am. More than 6 hours since I left my guest house.

Okay, I should talk about skiing and mountains. Visit the following website and click the map:

Slopes near by Männlichen (elv. 7317ft or 2230m, photo 2) were all groomed, packed powder, gradual, and thus very good for beginners. As a matter of fact, there were several groups in lesson. From there I saw Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau (photo 3), but their foot view was slightly blocked by two smaller mountains such as Tschuggen and Lauberhorn just standing in front of me. Behind these two is Kleine Scheidegg where I could enjoy a perfect view of the entire mountains. So, I had to hurry up. I skied down on course #4 to the Läger chairs. Salomon 3V ran fast, worked very stable, and carved the slope well. So, I clearly felt the difference between economy and premium skies. :-) From Läger, I skied on course #8 to the Gummi chairs. Gummi's right-side slope #16 had numerous ski tracks but still kept untracked spaces with deep fresh snow. Its sun-shining surface was really moving my mind if I should spend a little time to try it or save my time to Kleine Scheidegg. But, my wish to watch Eiger's north wll closer beat out my hesitation, and so I skied on #12 and rode Arven.

It was 12:30pm when arriving at Kleine Scheidegg where big mountain huts or actually hotels stood just next to the tram station. Right, if I hadn't depend on a Snow'N'Rail pass and had rent skis at Basel, I wouldn't have had to spend 90 minutes for riding the first gondola at Grund. The 8:47am mountain tram would've taken me from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg by 9:20am, so that I could've saved 3+ hours. But no use to cry on spilt milk, because I was actually watching this astonishing view of these three mountains (photo 4). From here, I rode Lauberhorn to the place named Start Bar where I looked down the crowd of Kleine Scheidegg, while looking up Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. The restaurant here was also packed with many skiers and the picnic area was full, too. No wonder, because it was 12:45pm on Sunday. So I kept skiing on #44 to the Fallboden chairs.

Again, many skiers were pouring into this double-seat lift. Despite that, I saw several chars occupied with just a single. This was because no staff controlled the waiting line and Swiss skiers still want to keep their privacy. This can't happen in Japan and of course in US. I recalled that, when a friend of my ski group inevitably used a chair of High Campbell at Crystal Mountain, WA without anyone else last year, the crowd repeated shouting "single! single!". But, it appears to me that skiers at Grindelwald must have a sort of contradictory feeling in that they want to get on a chair as soon as possible by a little aggressively approaching to the loading zone while wishing not to share a chair with strangers. Now, this gave me a good idea of where to have lunch. Yes, on a lift char. As I guessed, no one joined me for sharing a chair. Of course, I didn't hear yells of "single!". I took out from my daypack sandwiches and a water bottle (which I bought at Basel by 4.30SFr), and had lunch as enjoying a closer view of Eiger and Jungfrau on my right side from the lift chair for the next several minutes. But, I didn't imagine myself at the age of 45 just into hardcore skiing without any rests at a hut or a restaurant.

From Fallboden, I skied down on #25 to Salzegg. There was a sign saying "good skiers only" in multiple languages including Japanese (photo 5). Salzegg was a T-bar lift which was as steep as the very last section of the Horstman Glacier's T bar at Blackcomb but a way longer than that. This T-bar ride shows skiers a really close view of Eiger's north wall and some small holes below the middle, (which are probably sky lights or windows of Eiger's tunnel tram station). But don't be amazed too much with the view, you may lose your balance due to a variety of slopes.

Now, I stood at Eigergletscher (elv: 7612ft, 2320m) which is the highest point accessible by lifts. If you want to go up higher to Jungfraujoch, you must take a tram but of course can't ski down on glaciers from there (photo 6). Two courses #27 and #32 can take me back to the base of Fallboden, the lift on which I had lunch. Course #32 was smooth but a bit icy. From the middle, it gave a couple of branches to deep fresh snow. I chose one but it was short and already crashed by many ski tracks. Course #27 was more interesting. Although I saw a left-arrow sign and several poles behind it, probably meaning that this is the course boundary, I didn't see any ropes or any written signs clearly saying "boundary". Therefore, without any guilty feelings I skied straight down toward the Fallboden lift. The slope still left some non-tracked space even around 2:30pm. While the slope was not so steep or didn't have so much snow as the last year's Campbell or Silver Basin at Crystal, WA, it was an enjoyable experience to ski in powder snow in the background of Eiger and Mönch (photo 7).

It was 3pm when I was back to Start Bar by riding Wixi. Now I wondered which option I should take, option 1 to Wengen, the other side of the mountain or option 2 back to Grindelwald through Männlichen. If I had taken option 1, it could have allowed me to ski through the entire Männlichen - Kleine Scheidegg area. But I came up with one concern about what if the gondola from Wengen back to Männlichen were too croweded so that I couldn't come back to Grindelwalt Grund by 6:30pm when the rental shop would close. So, I took option 2: skied down on #42, took Lauberhorn again, follwed #41 and then #21, rode Honegg, and skied back to the top of Gummi leading to #16, the very attractive slope I saw in the morning. However, I realized that all slopes on Gridelwald's side are facing east. This means that they were all shaded around 3:45pm. I tried #16 anyway. No one was there. The snow on the slope was completely crashed and a bit solid (photo 8). Then, I skied down on #7. Following was #21 that would take me straight to Grindelwald Grund). However, since I spent 90.80SFr for this Snow'N'Rail pass, 65SFr for the rental ski set, 7.44SFr for a round-trip ticket between Grindelwalt and Grund, and 4.30SFr for lunch, (and thus 167.54SFr all in total), I still had a feeling to ride as many lifts as possible and ski on as many slopes as possible. So, instead of going down on #21, I rode Tschuggen, skied on #6, took Läger, followed #3, and rode the Männlichen quad lift at 4:28pm, just two minutes before its closing time.

After making a pit stop at Männlichen, it was several minutes before 5pm. I was finally satisfied with riding all lifts and skiing down on all major courses except Wengen's side, (i.e., the west side of this ski resort). I skied down to Grund, returned the rental skis, and jumped on the 5:38pm WAB tram back to Grindelwald. I then took a chance of buying postcards and a budge for souvenir during this 7-miniute transfer time for the 5:49pm BOB train heading to Interlaken Ost. Of course, Murphy's law worked again, and the train left just about 30 feet ahead of me. So, I had to wait for 30 minutes again. The very last Murphy's law on that day worked to the Inter-City train I rode. The train delayed almost 30 minutes at Olten, just one stop before reaching Basel. So, the time when I came back to the guest house was about 9:30pm, one hour later than I planned on.

Now, let me conclude this long story with some bottom lines: (1) the Jungfrau region including these three ski areas is probably much larger than Whistler/Blackcomb; (2) you can ski anywhere you like, since there are almost no boundaries; (3) children and beginners can also ride any lifts except the Salzegg T bar and ski down as choosing easiest routes; (4) use trams as much as possible, because they are much more powerful mass transportations than gondolas and lifts; (5) try to start from Wengen via Lauterbrunnen, (i.e., the west side) so that you might be able to avoid crowd at Grindelwald and furthermore enjoy the east side of this ski resort in the morning as well as the west side in the afternoon as coming back to Wengen; (6) go straight up to the Eigergletscher station via Kleine Scheidegg using trams if you wish to experience deep fresh snow on courses #27 and #32; (7) rent premium skies but don't expect the quality of rental boots, which means you should bring your own boots if possible; and (8) try on-lift lunch so as to save your money and time if you don't care about enjoying the atmosphere of this world-class ski resort. :-)

Photos and a video are found the bottom of this blog. For more pictures, visit:

来る日も来る日も天気予報を調べたした結果、2月15日、日曜日は、1週間もの雨、雪、暴風と言った悪い天気の後のつかの間の晴天になると言う事が分かりました。よって、スキーに行く事にしました。今度の行き先は、グリンデルヴァルトです。朝6:01 バーゼル発、ベルン経由、インターラーケン東行きの都市間連絡列車に乗り、7:57に到着するや否や、8:05発のBOBと呼ばれる登山列車に乗り換えます。2つ目の駅のツバイルシネンで、列車はグリンデルヴァルト行きとラオターブルネン行きに分かれますが、その行き着く先は、(途中で別の登山列車に乗り換えますが)、両方ともユングフラウヨッホ展望台です。ですから、グリンデルヴァルト、ユングフラウヨッホ、ラオターブルネン、そして、ツバイルシネンへ戻ると言う時計回り、または、反時計回りの周回旅行を楽しむ事が出来ます。

ユングフラウ地域は、3つのスキー場から成っていて、東から西へ列挙すると、(1)グリンデルヴァルト ー フィルスト、(2)クライネ シャイデック ー メンリッヘン、(3)ミューレン ー シルトホーンになります。2番目のスキー場、(すなわち、クライネ シャイデック ー メンリッヘン)が最も大きい様なので、そこへスキーに行く事にしました。が、しかし、このスキー場につながる最初のゴンドラはグリンデルヴァルトから発車しません。8時39分にグリンデルヴァルトに到着後、8時47分発の(WABと呼ばれる)別の登山電車に乗り代えて、グリンデルヴァルト グルンドへ向かう必要があるのです。ここで、このスノー&レール切符の罠が待っていたのでした。このグリンデルヴァルトとグルンドの短い区間は、私の切符で乗れないのです。しかも、切符についている1日リフト券の引換券は、ここグリンデルヴァルト駅で交換せよって書いてあるのです。さあ、いつものように、マーフィーの法則(希望とは逆の事が起きる法則)がこの短い乗り換え時間に起きる訳です。つまり、2つしかない切符販売窓口に沢山の乗客が殺到しました。私もです。言うまでもなく、次の列車まで30分待つ事を余儀なくされました。(写真1)

グルンドに9時25分に着き、インタースポートスキーレンタルショップへ駆け込みます。以前の経験から、プレミアムスキー1式を予約しておきました。:-) 今日のスキー靴はヘッドでした。ヘッドとノルディカは私のような典型的日本人の扁平足に合うようなので、ちょっと嬉しい気持ちでした。(エンゲルバーグでは、サロモンを履きましたが、足の両脇がずっと締め付けられました。)しかしながら、米国のサイズ8(26cm)にもかかわらず、ヘッドのスキー靴はちょっと大きかったので、店員に一回り小さいのをお願いした所、今度はちょっぴり湿っぽくて、古い、かなりきつめのテクニカを持って来ました。結局、ヘッドにしましたが、どうも、この店はブーツをプレミアム、エコノミー、バジェットと言ったクラス分けをしていないようです。インターネットではそう宣伝していたんですけどね。この店がプレミアムとして扱っているスキーはと言うと、サロモン3Vレース(です。後でこのスキーがどうだったかお話します。とにかく、このお店は、プレミアムスキーと特にクラス分けされていない靴を保険無しで65フランで貸してくれました。あれ、この値段は2週間前にエンゲルバーグでエコノミースキー(サロモン アエロマックス)、靴、それに保険を含めて支払った金額と同じじゃないですかってね。



メンリッヘン(標高2230メートル、写真2)付近のコースは全て圧雪された固めの雪から成るなだらかな斜面で、初心者にはとても良いコースです。実際のところ、幾つかのグループが講習中でした。ここから、アイガー、メンヒ、ユングフラウの三山(写真3)が見えますが、麓の方が手前のシュッゲンとラオバーホーンという2つの山で隠れてしまいます。これら2山の背後にクライネ シャイデックがあり、そこで全体の山々が見えるものと思われます。そうです、急がないと。レガーリフトへ続く第4コースを滑り降ります。サロモン3Vのスキーは快速に滑り、安定していて、斜面をよく切る感じがしました。、そう、プレミアムとエコノミースキーの差がはっきり分かりましたよ。:-) レガーから、第8コースを降りてグミリフトに行きます。グミの右斜面、第16コースは、既にシュプールが一杯走っていましたが、それでもまだ滑走跡の無い深雪がキラキラと太陽に輝いています。ここでちょっと時間を潰そうか、それとも時間が勿体ないからクライネ シャイデックへ直行しようか迷いましたが、とにかく、近くでアイガーの北壁を見るとという意思が強く働いて、第12コースを滑り降り、アーベンリフトに乗りました。

クライネ シャイデックに到着したのは昼過ぎの12時30分、登山電車の駅の横に立派な山小屋と言うかホテルが経っています。そうです。もし、スノー&レール切符を使わずに、しかも、バーゼルでスキーを借りていれば、グルンドから最初のゴンドラに乗るのに、90分も費やさなくて良かったのです。グリンデルヴァルト8時47分発の登山電車にのれば、クライネ シャイテックには9時20分までに着いていて、3時間強も節約出来たはずでした。覆水盆に返らずな訳ですが、息を飲む様な山々の景色を目の当たりにしたのですから、良しとしましょう。(写真4)ここからラオバーホーンというリフトに乗って、スタートバーと呼ばれる場所に行きます。すると、眼下にクライネ シャイデックの賑わいが、頭上にアイガー、メンヒ、ユングフラウを見上げることができます。ここでもレストランはスキー客で一杯で、ピクニックエリアも座るところがありません。日曜の午後12時45分なので仕方ありません。それで、第44コースを使ってファルボーデンリフトへ向かいました。



さあ、標高2320メートルのアイガー氷河駅に到着しました。ここが、リフトに乗り継いで来れる最高地点です。もし、これより先ユングフラウヨッホまで登りたければ、登山電車に乗って行くしかありませんが、もちろん頂上から氷河を滑り降りることは不可能です(写真6)。第27コースと第32コースが昼飯を食ったファルボーデンリフトへ戻るコースです。第32コースは滑らかでしたが、ちょっとアイスバーン気味で、中間から深雪へそれる脇道が2、3あります。その1つを選んで滑りましたが、短くてしかも既に相当数の滑走跡で雪が砕け散っていました。第27コースはもう少し面白いコースでした。左矢印の看板とその後ろに幾つもの杭が打ってあり、多分、ここがコースの端っこだよって諭しているものと思われますが、ロープも「コース外」と書かれた看板も見当たりません。それで、何の罪悪感も無く、ファルボーデンリフトに向かう坂を滑り降りました。斜面はもう午後2時30分になっているにも関わらず、滑走跡が無い所が残っています。斜面自体はワシントン州クリスタルマウンテンスキー場のキャンプベルやシルバーベースン コースほど急でもなく、雪も深くは無かったですが、アイガーやメンヒを背に柔らかい雪をかき分けスキーをするのは爽快でした(写真7)。

ヴィッヒ リフトに乗ってスタートバーと言う地点に戻ったのは3時頃でした。ここで、このスキー場の西側にあるヴェンゲンに向かうか、それともメンリッヘンに戻ってからグリンデルヴァルトに返るかの選択に迫られました。ヴェンゲンに向かえばこのメンリッヘン ー クライネシャイデックのスキー場全体を滑った事になります。しかし、もし、ヴェンゲンからメンリッヘンに戻るゴンドラが混雑して、6時30分までにグリンデルヴァルトグルンドに辿り着かないと、貸しスキー屋さんは閉まってしまいます。それで、メンリッヘンに戻るコースを選択しました。第42コースを降り、再びラオバーホーンリフトに乗って、第41、第21コースを滑り、ホネックに乗って、グミリフトの頂上まで滑り降りました。今朝見た結構面白そうな第16コースに辿り着いた訳です。しかし、グリンデルヴァルト側のコースは全て東向きだということに気が付きました。つまり、午後3時45分の時点で、これらのコースは皆日陰になってしまっていました。とにかく、第16コースを滑ってみる事にしました。誰もいません。斜面の雪も完全に砕け散って、少し固くなっています(写真8)。それから、第7コースを降ります。それに続くのは第21コースで、これはグリンデルヴァルトグルンドまで一直線に降りれるコースです。しかしながらです。このスノー&レール切符に90.80フラン、貸しスキーに65フラン、グリンデルヴァルトとグルンド間の往復切符に7.44フラン、昼飯に4.30フラン、(総計167.54フラン、13400円)を使ったからには、できる限りリフトに乗り、斜面を滑って元を取らなければなりません。それで、第21コースを使わずに、シュッゲンTバーリフトに乗り、第7コースを使い、レガーに乗り継いで、更に第3コースを下って、4時28分、リフト運行終了時間2分前にメンリッヘン4人乗りリフトに滑り込みました。




Photo 1: Transferring at Grindelwald

Photo 2: Arriving at Männlichen by gondola

Photo 3: A view from Männlichen

Photo 4: Kliene Scheidegg in the background of Eiger and Mönch

Photo 5: A warning sign at the Salzegg T-bar lift

Photo 6: The glacier view from Eigergletscher (elv: 7612ft, 2320m)

Photo 7: My ski track as if it flowed from Mönch

Photo 8: Course #16 shaded at 3:45pm

Video: an entire view from Kleine Scheidegg

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mt. Titlis Ski Report

English first / 日本語は英語の後

After spending almost a month here at Basel, now this time finally came. I got information on near-by ski areas, purchased a one-year half-price travel card from SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen in German or Swiss Federal Railways in English), and bought a snow-N-rail discount package including a round-trip ticket to Engelberg, a day lift ticket at Mt. Titlis, and a 18% ski-rental discount at Inter Ski Rental.

Engelberg, (i.e., Angel's Town) is the base for getting access to Mt. Titlis and is located 85 miles, (= 136 km) southeast from Basel, which, if I think about going skiing from Seattle, is a way farther than Snoqualmie, yet a bit father than Stevens Pass and Crystal Mountain, but much closer than Mt. Baker, (probably even before Bellingham.) Comparing its distance with ski areas close by Tokyo, Engelberg is much closer than any ski areas in Gunma and Tochigi prefectures but probably in the same distance to Karuizawa. Unlike all ski areas in Washington State, Engelberg is accessible by train. An inter-city express departs every hour from Basel. Of course, I got on the very first train at 6:03am, transfered to a mountain railway at Luzern, and arrived at Engelberg at 8:12am.

Amazing was this mountain railway. Waking up at 4:30am, I dozed off in the train, but suddenly felt the train now running up a super-steep slope. While automobiles were driving up on a zigzag road, the train went up straight like a cable car (watch the attached video clip). Again if I compare it with my experience, the gradient is much larger than Hakone Mountain Railway in Japan. I think Kent, my son would really enjoy riding this train when he comes to Switzerland in March.

The Mt. Titlis cable car station is just only a 3-minute "free" bus ride from Engelberg (see photo 1 below), where I rent a ski gear. (To be honest, I mistakenly stopped by a different Inter-Ski rental shop near by the Engelberg station that leases even ski wears and of course has restrooms (probably used for changing cloths). However, this cable car station has nowhere to change cloths except a tiny restroom fully packed with skiers and tourists. That was the reason why I saw many skiers already wore a ski wear and even ski boots in the train. On the other hand, a lot of 2-sfr (= $2) lockers were available to use. Despite that everything is expensive in Switzerland, it is quite reasonable to use a spacious locker at $2 that can even store a pair of skis.

To reach the top of Mt. Titlis (with elevation 10000 ft = 3020m), skiers need to ride the cable car first and thereafter transfer to the 1st, 2nd, and even 3rd gondola (photo 2). Although this series of rides would give a kind of sensational experience to tourists, (and of course to my son if he has a chance of coming here), upon every transfer, I had to wait on a long line for the next gondola, (like the Hakone cable car and rope way in Japan), which took about one hour in total to get to the top.

Finally, I arrived there at 10:40am, (after spending 5+ hours from the university guest house!) The view was just like the heaven as if angels were landing soon. The beautiful and gigantic rocks color-striped in horizon with snow's white and rocks' gray slightly reminded me of the view I saw at Alta in Utah, it was stunningly overwhelming and beautiful as if they were islands floating on the sea of white clouds. Check photos 3 ~ 7.

Now, it's time to ski down. It was my first skiing in this season which was 2+ months later than usual, (i.e. mid November). I saved my money by rending economy skis and boots at 60 sfr (= $60) rather than a premium set at $80. Okay, my excuse is enough. Yes, you can imagine. To accelerate my speed, I just skied straight down, and quickly noticed that skis were bouncing, shaking, and vibrating, which was because I forgot to put my center of mass on the right position of the skis? Or was it because of these cheap and lightweight skis? To be worse, the left ski's tip caught snow too much while its tail was rotating quickly during my first right turn, and I almost fell down at the beginning of my first skiing in Switzerland! Anyway, I recovered my body position quickly and fortunately didn't fall down at all during the day. :-) The actual tip was that, after my first run down to the mid station at 2428m, I switched the left and right ski, which made me much comfortable. Or I got used to the skis.

The snow condition was so-called packed powder or a bit icy. Almost all slopes were non-gloomed runs. Still 90% were smooth surfaces, while the rest were bumpy slopes. Those bumpy slopes were icy but not so steep. All in all I didn't see quite steep slopes on piste. All slopes on piste were guarded by ropes and I saw many signs saying "stay in course, many crevices ahead", which scared me of crossing the rope to off-piste slopes that however seemed easy to ski down because of numerous traces on them. In fact, I constantly saw several skiers skiing down these slopes. Only one concern was that off-piste courses from the top of Mt. Titlis at 3028m to the mid gondola station at 1800m named Starterland seemed like leading to a big plateau on their way, (i.e, Steinberg in the map: where skiers would have to detour to either side of it, or make a fatal jump from the edge of the plateau. Repeatedly saying, the slopes were not so steep like this ( So, if I skied with my B3 and together with Shu-san and Kato-san, my ski school colleagues, I would probably follow their devil's whisper: why not? (And, I would reglet about my decision on my way. :-))

Since I spent 83.40sfr for a Snow'N'Rail package, $65sfr for this rental ski gear, 19.5sfr for lunch, and even .5sfr for using a restroom at the Engelberg station, all of that brought the total to 168.4sfr, (excluding a 150sfr half-price travel card), I really wanted to try all slopes, and within 5 hours I did so except #7 and #10, which were worthlessly easy. The course #1 from Gletscherlift to Stand (a yellow line in the map) was the most difficult and bumpiest course that was however not so difficult as Snoqualmie Alpental's International but probably the same level as the upper slope beside its quad chairs. See photo 8. Then, how about skiers' skill at Mt. Titlis? Well, I believe that best skiers must have all gone for off-piste skiing.

The quality of 19.50sfr lunch was probably the same as Timber Wolf at Snoqualmie West . Noodles, two pieces of warm spam meat, and steamed baby cabbages which must have been taken out from frozen packages. It seems like paying 1000 yen, ($11) for curry and rice at the Naeba ski resort in Japan, which I think may be taken out from instant packages. To be worse, they don't accept a credit card if a customer don't spend more than 20sfr, for which purpose there were a bunch of drinks just before the cashiers, each actually with 5sfr. Since most people don't want to carry cash with them, they end up with picking up one of them, which I think is a way of the restaurant business.

In summary, the view was the most impressive among all ski resorts I visited; there was not so much snow as last year's Crystal Mountain and of course as Mt. Baker; the snow condition on piste was slightly icy like Alpental's Upper International; the scale of Mt. Titlis is definitely larger than all Washington State ski areas but smaller than Whistler BC, maybe the same as Snowbird UT; you should rend premium ski gear (if you need) by bringing your own lunch instead of buying a $19.5 lunch set; and there were much less annoying snowboarders than Washington State!

Finally, although all seats of the train returning to Luzern were taken by skiers, a half of them got off on the way to Luzern, which means that local skiers commute using this lovely mountain railway. When I arrived back at the university guest house, it was 8:20pm.

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Photo 1: Mt. Titlis Cable Car Station

Photo 2: Transferring to a gondola

Photo 3: Up beyond the sea of clouds

Photo 4: Now reaching to the top

Photo 5: Looking north from the top

Photo 6: Looking south from the top

Photo 7: Rocks floating on the sea of clouds

Photo 8: The most difficult slope?

Video 1: In the mountain railway train