Having been raised in Colorado, my experience with skiing was not dissimilar to young children in Central Switzerland; I had the lucky advantage of being on skis at age of 2. My British husband, on the other hand, had an induction by fire into skiing when he first arrived in Switzerland.
Being somewhat of a sporty guy (he won an Olympic Gold Medal in Rowing), he decided that he couldn’t live in Switzerland and not learn how to ski. So when some of his work colleagues suggested they all go skiing, Tim jumped at the opportunity. The short version of the story is that his very first run was a black. He made it down the mountain but he said it was one of the scariest experiences of his life.
If you don’t know how to ski, I would suggest that you avoid Tim’s experience and go for a more mild start! There are several local hills around Central Switzerland which make for great skiing for beginners. Here are a few we’ve been checking out this winter… Nearly all of these places you can get to with public transport:
Where to go?
Klewenalp can be reached via Beckenreid. In last year’s Get Ready for Winter booklet, we wrote about it on pages 22-25. When you arrive at the top of the cable car, there is a great little area for beginners. They have a lovely team of instructors at the Ski and Snowboard School Klewenalp-Stockhütte as well. The only disadvantage to Klewenalp is that the only way you can get to the mountain is by cable car, so if it is a packed day, expect lines (Thanks Moxiblog for the photo!). LiL top tip? Go during the week if you can or get there really early and leave a bit early too.
After seeing the article on page 53 about Stoos in the Autumn/Winter 2013 Living in Luzern Magazine, we decided we wanted to check out their magic carpet. You can get to Stoos two ways, via gondola or train. We ended up going to by train but the gondola is much closer to the ski area than the train is and so I would suggest if you are going with children, that you take the gondola. Stoos also has great ski rates for families: 124 chf for 2 adults and all their children up to 15 years old or 87 chf for 1 adult and children up to 15 years old.
Mörlialp is a recent discovery for us. A couple of years ago, our Swiss postman told me it was a great local mountain but it wasn’t until this year that we had a chance to check it out. Mörlialp is a lovely local ski area which is reasonably priced and with great options for beginners. For the really little children, they have a new Kinderland which is a 5 chf per person entry fee. For those who can take a t-bar, they have a good beginners hill which costs between 23 and 19 chf depending on the time of day you arrive. They also have a nice sled run which costs 5 chf for the chair lift (you can rent sleds at the ticket counter right next to the lift). Due to the fact that you have to take a chair lift to the top of the sled run, I would not recommend for families with children under 3 years old!
Engelberg (Klostermatte & Brunni)
Engelberg has two ski areas for beginners. It seems like there is no need to even tell you about Klostermatte, the last time I was there, I ran into about 15 expats I knew from Luzern. Never the less, if you don’t know about Klostermatte, it is a very easy to get to beginners ski area in Engelberg. What you might not know about is Brunni, which you can get to by cable car from Klostermatte. When you get up to the top of Brunni, there is a lovely children’s area (much less crowded then down below at Klostermatte!) and the slopes are great for beginners.
Wirzweli is a gondola ride up from Dallenwil. We had heard that it was only 20 minutes from Luzern and so decided we needed to check it out. We didn’t actually ski there, but we did observe that they had a lovely children’s area (for the super little ones) which is totally free and only a short walk from the top of the gondola. They have a bigger area for families of course and the price is right at 79 chf for the whole family (children up to 16 years old and including cable car).
Even for advanced skiers, the occasional lesson is well worth it! But if you are new to the sport, investing in a ski lessons will help you tremendously. I can certainly recommend Prime Ski School in Engelberg, they have great instructors who speak English. As we mentioned above, Ski and Snowboard School Klewenalp-Stockhütte is available to you and they have instructors who also speak English. Both of these ski schools cater to adults and kids.
Something that seems to be very popular among Swiss families, is Ski Club Luzern. All over Brunni and Mörlialp, we kept seeing teachers in green jackets with groups of children. The website is only in German, but from what I can gather, children get on buses and are taken to the respective mountains where they are grouped together and ski for 5 Saturdays. This year it is already finished, but if you have a child who will be 4+ next year, it is worth looking into (and I would recommend looking into it sooner rather than later, my experience with group ski lessons is that they book out fast in Switzerland)!
As a reminder, you might like this chart we’ve put together with all the ski areas near Luzern. You might also want to review last years Get Ready for Winter booklet or check out Nic Oatridge’s website Swiss Winter Sports.