Andermatt village and ski area transformed

5th February 2020, by Dave Watts

This new gondola from the village opened two seasons ago

This new gondola from the village opened two seasons ago

Editor Gill and I spent the last two days of our week-long research trip to Switzerland in what used to be sleepy old Andermatt, frequented only by locals and hard core freeriders who loved the steep, north-facing Gemmstock mountain.

Sleepy old Andermatt (pictured here) has been transformed by recent investment in new lifts and luxury hotels and apartments

But now it has been transformed by an investment of well over a billion Swiss francs (call it a billion pounds) by Egyptian businessman Samih Sawiris. And there is more investment in the pipeline.

His companies have built a whole new adjunct to the traditional old mountain village, including luxury hotels and apartments, and have transformed the ski area by linking its tiny south-facing Nätschen ski area by fast new lifts to neighbouring Sedrun, forming a great and much-needed large ski area for intermediates. But more on the new developments in a forthcoming feature.

130 million Swiss francs has been invested in new lifts and pistes to attract intermediate skiers

Day one (Sunday) dawned cloudy with light snowfall. So I set off to explore the new Andermatt-Sedrun ski area. Visibility was OK, despite the light snowfall and lack of trees to give definition – there seemed to be a lot of bare rock faces which helped with the definition. A smart new gondola followed by three new high-speed chairs brought me to the first old lift – which used to belong to the Sedrun lift company, which has now been bought by Sawiris’s company Andermatt Swiss Alps.

Good signposting meant it was easy to find my way around despite the poor visibility

The new pistes I skied to get to Sedrun were easy blues and easy reds – fabulous terrain for intermediates, though the verticals are not great (averaging around 400m according to my Ski Tracks app). It took only a couple of hours to reach Sedrun.

I could have carried on further by taking a 5-minute train ride across the resort to meet a new-for-the-2019/20 season cable car into the Disentis ski area. But the weather was closing in and it was raining on the lower slopes, so I decided to head back to Andermatt. Again, the runs were easy blues and reds.

The weather closed in late morning on Sunday and visibility deteriorated

The whole area including Disentis now offers 180km of pistes and 33 lifts.

Monday dawned cloudy and windy. Most of the lifts were closed because of the wind. So I headed up the first stage of the Gemmstock cable car (the top section was closed). The skiing was limited to a few short red runs (just over 250m vertical) served by a fast chair and a short easy black run served by a long and tricky T-bar. The snow was slushy but I skied for an enjoyable couple of hours.

The only skiing available on our last day was at the mid-station of the Gemmstock cable car, served by the chairlift in the foreground and the long draglift in the background

I’m now writing this at Zurich airport. When we left the resort it was snowing heavily and all the lifts were closed because of high winds. The snow was forecast to continue into Wednesday and avalanche risk is bound to be high. But the end of the week promises sunshine and epic condtions.

The editorial 4×4 in fresh snow as we set off for the airport on Tuesday

Editor Gill stayed in one of the swanky new apartments in the new development Holiday Village Andermatt Reuss and Editor Watts in the splendid 5-star Chedi hotel – more on both of those in forthcoming features.

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