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Deep Snow, Big Drops, and Stinky Cheese

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Photo: Liam Doran
Mention Switzerland to any skier and their reaction is nearly universal. Their eyes widen as thoughts of huge vertical, fluffy powder, and quaint villages filled with fellow snow seekers enjoying après fill their collective imaginations. When the opportunity presented itself to tag along with a few stellar skiers to the Swiss Alps, I eagerly jumped on the team. Skiers Sven Brunso, John Trousdale, George Koch, and I travelled via rail to Adelboden, Andermatt, Disentis, and Engelberg. Deep snow, stinky cheese, new friends, cold beer, big climbs, and massive descents were never more than a walk, tram, or train away. Photographer Liam Doran shares some highlights of their trip.

Photo: It’s not everyday that you get to ski next to a glacier, but that’s exactly what Sven Brunso found on the Steinberg Glacier in Engelberg.
Photo: Liam Doran
John Trousdale and Sven Brunso en route to the Gemstock tram through the timeless Andermatt.  
Photo: Liam Doran
Brunso getting photo-bombed by one of the many paragliders flying around Adelboden.
Photo: Liam Doran
We heard that many of Switzerland’s powder slopes are left untouched or at least comparatively so by U.S. standards. In large part, the rumors are true.
Somewhere in the powder cloud is Brunso feeling lucky to have more than a few dozen acres of powder skiing to himself.
Photo: Liam Doran
There are endless touring options in the Swiss Alps. I would recommend hiring a guide for most routes as the terrain is massive and there are numerous areas where local knowledge is essential for both route-finding and snowpack evaluation.
Photo: Liam Doran
“I’ll take some of that white cheese.” Brunso ponders some of Switzerland’s gastric delights. Don’t forget the chocolate.
Photo: Liam Doran
The Swiss rail system is a good as it gets for a travelling skier.  Land in Zurich, walk downstairs to the train station, and you can get to the heart of every ski mecca in Switzerland.
Photo: Liam Doran
Trains also make for great shuttles.  Here, we rode to the top of Oberalp Pass where we skinned a few thousand vertical to our descent, which eventually took us right back to Andermatt.
Photo: Liam Doran
Enticed by soft snow, we skied a few lines before we summited. The train stop on Oberalp Pass is visible below skier John Trousdale.
Photo: Liam Doran
The small village of Disentis delivers the terrain many off-piste skiers like Sven Brunso have been searching for. It’s big, open, and steep. Keep in mind that there is no ski patrol controlling avalanche prone slopes—except where they intersect piste terrain—so lines off the lift must be treated as backcountry skiing.
Photo: Liam Doran
With no avalanche control, be sure to hire a guide and be equipped with avalanche gear.
Photo: Liam Doran
Brunso airs it out over Andermatt.
Photo: Liam Doran
With a little planning and a rail pass, you can stay busy for weeks.
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