Engelberg is a must-ski destination for advanced and expert skiers. There aren’t as many big, lift-serviced descents as you’ll find in the likes of Chamonix or Verbier: but there’s no denying the quality of its signature runs.
For off-piste skiing, the Titlis is the Target
Check out the photo above. It’s of the Titlis – the mighty Alp that rises up above Engelberg. There’s a glacier at the top, and a vertical drop of 2000m between the top lift station (on the Klein Titlis) and the valley floor.
This shot covers just over half of it: and in the process, offers an awe-inspiring view of the upper sections of the Galtiberg, one of Engelberg’s best-known off-piste descents. It runs from the telecoms tower near the top, through the sunlit powder field below it, then around the edge of the big triangular cliff band in the middle of the photo. Beyond that pinch-point, you head off over the bumpy terrain beneath the cliff band, and disappear, out of sight, bottom left.
Getting lost is not an option, so a guide is absolutely essential. But the terrain is not especially steep or technical. You just need to be relaxed in a big-mountain environment, comfortable skiing all types of snow and able to handle one important traverse. The buzz you’ll feel at the bottom will keep you going all winter.
Pray for Powder on the Laub
In some ways the second of Engelberg’s pin-up descents is even better. It’s called the Laub, and you’ll get a sense of how exceptional it is in the picture above. It’s the long, smooth, unbroken slope in the middle of this picture, which ends in the sunlit plateau.
The vertical drop is 1,100m, and the slope maintains a steady, even pitch throughout. Not once it is broken by rocks, cliff bands or dense trees. After fresh snow, you can make turn after glorious powder turn until your legs explode.
Below is a little taste of the delights that await you there…
To the best of our knowledge, nothing else in the Alps can match its length or the purity of its line: not the Wang in Klosters, not Stairway to Heaven in Verbier, and not The Grands Montets above Argentiere, near Chamonix.
There’s plenty of other off-piste terrain to be enjoyed in Engelberg – but don’t even think about tackling it without a guide and the correct avalanche safety gear.
Here’s an avalanche video will remind you why.
The pistes at the top of the mountain are fun too
Reliable snow and long red pistes make the Titlis a fun place to ski for more confident intermediates too – in fact, the runs from the top lift have a real sense of high-alpine adventure about them. But there’s not enough here to keep keen on-piste skiers busy for more than two or three days. That’s why we recommend it as a short break or ski weekends destination.
Less confident intermediates will be happier elsewhere. There are some easier pistes in Engelberg: the long blue from the top of the Schonegg back into town in particular is a blast. But most of the gentler slopes are south-facing and low-altitude – set on the opposite side of the valley from the main ski area. As a result, the quality of the snow can be iffy.
Anyone looking for a whole week’s worth of on-piste skiing should check out our guide to the best ski resorts for intermediates.