News from the snow
Engelberg Titlis Switzerland
With the majority of Switzerland's internationally famous resorts in the country's far west or south eastern corners, ancient Engelberg in the canton of Obwalden stands out alone in the centre of the country. The first hotels appeared here in the 1850s and winter sports not long after, but the village had been dominated for many centuries before then by the impressive Benedictine monastery, established in the early 12th century and still operational today, with about 34 monks in residence. The people of Obwalden have always had a reputation for their independent spirit, and the Swiss Confederation was established very near here. Although a village with a population of around 4,000, Engelberg's long standing status as a holiday resort means that the architecture is of the grand Swiss model with old and new architecture meeting in a generally pleasing way and giving the feel of a small town, rather than a large village. The surrounding classic Alpine mountain scenery rises up to 2000 metres above the village creating a spectacular backdrop. The impression of size is underlined by the list of facilities the resort offers, which would normally only be found within a large town or even a small city. As is increasingly common with Swiss ski centres, Engelberg mixes the best of old fashioned standards of service and quality with the latest in new technology on the mountain, including the already legendary rotating 'Rotair' cable car/tram, which ascends to 3020 metres (10,000 feet) to access skiing on the Titlis glacier. Engelberg has always been at the cutting edge of technology; the first electric rail line in Switzerland was installed here. At the top station of the Titlis Rotair there is a tunnel through the glacier, where an ice bar sometimes operates and at the far end of which you find yourself in another canton (equivalent to walking in to a different State in North America).
A historic isolated village which grew up around a Benedictine monastery (established in 1120). The monks brought skiing here early in the twentieth century . The Rotair, the world's first revolving cable car is here, as is the Titlis where the nearby Ice flyer 6 seater chair opened in 2000.
Most of the runs are of intermediate standard with beginner areas dotted around the mountains. Although nearly all the skiing is lift-linked it is broken in to mostly small areas spread all over the mountains with single meeting points, rather than being a fully interwoven network of trails. The Brunni cable car which leaves from the other side of Engelberg, but nearer the centre, serves lower altitude and mostly gentler slopes beneath Brunni. There is a popular children's snow play area here.
Experts will find most to entertain them on the Titlis, from which a steep black leads down to the base of the Rotair cable car at Stand. There are also some excellent piste runs down Laub beneath Titlis when the snow is right: a guide is essential to make the descent safely. 24 hour TV gives slope conditions, with cameras at key points around the ski area showing live pictures.
Cross country skiers have a good choice of trails around the valley. The Ski Jumping World Cup takes place on the 120 metre Titlis jumping hill in late December, it's the largest ski jumping hill in Switzerland and the only Swiss stop on the FIS World Cup tour.
In common with most Swiss resorts daycare for children begins at age 2 in the village kindergarten, with baby sitters available to look after younger children (contact the tourist office). The Ski Kindergartens offered by the ski school is available for booking from half a day to 5 days with lunchtime supervision if required. Older children can take snowboarding instead of skiing if they prefer.
Families buying an adult and two child tickets, or more receive a 10% discount.
For Folklore visit the Bänklialp restaurant on Wednesday or Saturday evenings.