BD athlete Drew Stoecklein reports from his trip to Switzerland with Ride Guide TV
Black Diamond athlete Drew Stoecklein has seemingly been on the road skiing non-stop this year. His latest excursion involved visiting some of Switzerland's finest spots with a crew from Ride Guide TV. Below is Drew's report and his photos from the trip.
Traveling to Switzerland with Ride Guide TV was one of the most incredible experiences that I've ever had. I finally have a true understanding of why everyone raves about the skiing, culture and mountains in Switzerland.
The skiing is on a completely different level than it is in the States. While there are plenty of family-friendly pistes to be skied in the sunshine, directly above them lays terrain that I had only dreamed of. The Swiss are unafraid to build roads, tunnels and lifts in the most extreme places. It was great to go to a resort where there was an abundance of accessible off-piste skiing right off the lift.
In Lenzerheide, we were able to scout chutes that had 1,500 feet of vertical directly under the tram. There must have been 20 ways to navigate your way down the massive tram face—and not a single track. All of the lines had unique features and cruxes in them making each run a challenging adventure.
At Laax resort we were able to access incredible pillow lines 10 feet off of the trail. The benefit of going to Laax is that it is famous for its jib park, and no one seeks the sick lines right off the side of the trail. At the top of every pillow line it seemed impossible to ski down, but once you started moving and putting the puzzle together it all seemed to work out and get you to the bottom.
Unfortunately, the weather at Arosa was not in our favor. We had very low visibility with snow showers every day we were there .The difference between skiing in Switzerland and skiing in the States is that most of the skiing is above tree line. So, if it is cloudy it is really hard to see where you are going. On top of this, the majority of skiing in the trees is closed off to preserve the wildlife in the area. But, the other difference about skiing in Switzerland is that even when the conditions are unfavorable, you can still have an incredible time soaking in the culture.
The first night in Arosa we were enjoyed a dinner in a small chalet on the side of the ski hill. The best part about it was that we were taken there in a horse-drawn carriage. Once inside, we had the most incredible fondue, raclette and wine. After dinner, we were handed wooden sleds with metal runners to sled down the hillside back to our hotel. If I could, I would always travel to and from dinner this way! The culture at the rest of the resorts was just as amazing as it was at Arosa. We enjoyed local chocolates, cheese, meats and beverages at each of the ski areas, and the breathtaking views truly topped it all off.
The Alps have to be one of the most impressive mountain ranges I have ever seen. They loom high above Zurich and the surrounding towns running hundreds of miles in each direction. Everywhere I looked I saw every type of big mountain skiing imaginable: spines, huge ramps, glaciers, chutes and more. When it comes to skiing in Switzerland, the possibilities and terrain seem endless.
Now that I have been to Switzerland and have had the full experience I can't wait to go back. I'm already thinking about when I should book my ticket for next year!