The blue riband run is the long, winding piste from the top of the Schilthorn, all the way down to Murren: 1300m of vertical, accompanied by sensational views across to the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. If there’s a more scenic route in the world, we’d like to hear about it.
Don’t expect to be able to look at the view all the way down, though – the run is steep and often bumpy at the top, and has a narrow, winding passage in its middle section. You’ll need to concentrate! Most of the way, it follows the route of the legendary amateur Inferno race, which was first run in 1928, and now attracts a huge field each January. There is easier, and harder, skiing to be found here, however.
Not an ideal resort for beginners
The main beginner’s area is small, a little on the steep side, and exposed to the sun – which means it can be icy in the mornings. Make sure you warm up on pistes with a more northerly (and therefore a colder) aspect. The pistes off the Winteregg chair, going down into the village of the same name, are a great place to start. Then progress onto slopes with more southerly aspects – on the 2145m Schiltgrat – once the sun gets on them, and softens them up (from about 11am they should be fine).
If you’re an intermediate who doesn’t want to ski hard, there’s enough to keep you happy for a long weekend here – mixing your skiing with lots of stops to stare, slack-jawed at the view. There are also some nice pistes half-way up the mountain, and the snow is usually good here – especially the Engetal blue. But don’t attempt the famous top-to-bottom run – from the Shilthorn back into the village – until you’re feeling confident and capable. The top section is quite a handful, and is usually home to some monstrous moguls.
There’s lots of fun for advanced skiers
If it snows, look for powder between the pistes off the lower chairs. But don’t give it more than two or three days, unless you’re feeling salty enough to attempt some of the bigger, bolder off-piste.
Hardly anyone comes here for the extreme-skiing, but if the snow’s good there are some big off-piste routes off the back of the Schilthorn. From the summit, you either drop south into the Sefinental valley, or north into the Soustal. These are big-mountain descents through difficult terrain, and while they look very, very tempting, the consequences of losing your way would be grisly, to say the least. Don’t try them without a guide.
There are some shorter, more accessible routes above Murren, such as the Tschingelkrache, which involves a tricky descent above a cliff band before you reach the wide open slopes of the Blumental. Others, such as the Blümlilöke, off the 2145m Schiltgrat, are prone to avalanches. In other words, these aren’t spur-of-moment descents – at the very least you need to check the avalanche warnings before you attempt them.
Surprise, surprise – there’s a terrain park here! Not what you’d expect in a resort that attracts older skiers. It even has a half-pipe. You’ll find it near the bottom of the Schiltgrat chair.