Finding Gemütlich in Wengen

Published by Kyle Watson on

Cog trains, high alpine peaks, milk chocolate, cuckoo clocks, beer gardens and cozy alpine villages where the mood is defined as Bavarian kitsch on steroids… this is Switzerland and those elements combine to make an agreeably pleasant feeling, called gemütlich.

We first traveled to Wengen in January of 2017. It was a small group of nine skiers and it was all our first time to visit the region they call the Jungfrau. We arrived by train with an easy and scenic two hour ride from Zurich. Our classic Bavarian style hotel was 5 minutes walk from the station in Lauterbrunnen. There was no need for cars or buses, we traveled by train and foot all week. The hotel was warm, cozy and filled with the atmosphere of gemütlich.

Walking to our hotel up on the right – 5 min from the station in Lauterbrunnen.

The food was advertised as the best in the valley and it delivered, from fondue, to goulash and roti it was all fantastic. The bar doubled as the meeting place for members of the 100 year old Lauterbrunnen Ski Club. When they would come in and join us at their booth we felt obliged to buy their beers as a payment for their welcoming spirit, stories and good ADL club etiquette.

Sharing beers and stories with members of the Lauterbrunnen Ski Club.

One of the highlights of the trip is being able to experience the atmosphere at one of the “Classic” downhill races on the world cup. Joining us on this years trip will be former US Ski Team racer AJ Kitt. He participated in the Lauberhorn Downhill numerous times and holds found memories of his time competing there, so much so that he jumped at the chance to come back as a fan, spectator and guide with us. He summarizes what Wengen means to him.

” The Lauberhorn DH in Wengen is one of the toughest ones on the World Cup circuit. It’s the longest at 2 1/2 minutes. It’s the fastest topping 100+ MPH in the Hanneggschuss. You jump between a narrow rock chute, cross under a train and you do it all in the shadows of the most incredible mountain in Europe, the Eiger. I’m stoked to be going back in 2020 with the ADL. I raced in Wengen 8 times in my career, and I am excited to share what I know about it with the ADL guests. ” -AJ Kitt

A skier jumps over the Hundschopf while the Swiss Airforce passes by as part of the festivities.

The difference between watching races in the USA and in Europe is that you can access the race from multiple vantage points along the course. Its fantastic to see the race up close and watch the best skiers in the world navigate the trickiest parts of the course. After the Downhill we even hopped onto the course and skied down it without getting in trouble – we went over the jumps, across the Brunen S Curves, through the famous train tunnel and out the Austrian hole. It was magical.

The Finish of the men’s Slalom and Downhill.

The race and atmosphere is second to none. Swiss and other fan clubs come from all over Europe to support their racers with elaborate bands, matching ski outfits and other costumes. The village of Wengen doesn’t allow cars, except for the filming of Downhill Racer with Robert Redford (see below), so everyone is walking and its normally covered in snow and is as beautiful as you can imagine. Each night before the race they have the bib draw party which brings everyone back out after dinner and day of skiing.

Famous scene from DH Racer with cars trained into Wengen just for the movie.
Two members of the Beat Feuz Fan club show there is no lack for spirit in Wengen.

The free skiing in Wengen is really spectacular and under the radar. We skied untouched powder right off the race hill and made numerous laps without running into any other skiers. The following days we journeyed over to Murren and skied off the top of the Schilthorn, where the filmed James Bond. There we found endless off piste powder runs that required no hiking and provided thousands of feet of vertical. There is so much terrain that we probably only skied 20% of it. Another reason we are so excited to return in 2020. We plan to hire a guide and do at least one day of high alpine free riding.

Most of those tracks are ours. 5 minutes from the start of the Mens Downhill and empty.
The view from below the Shilthorn. There was still endless miles of runs below this point as well. Such a playground.

Every where you stop to rest has a traditional mountain hutte or family restaurant to refuel and warm up at. The food is not your typical resort garbage, rather its home cooked local specialties and the prices reasonable and the beer cold. Again the atmosphere exudes gemutlich and you really cant get enough of that, ever.

The Start Bar at where else? The start of the Lauberhorn Downhill. The definition of Gemutlich.

Only 3 spots left.
The Trip dates are January 14-23rd.
The Trip Cost is $3375.00 for ADL Members (Join for $35.00 and save $400.00)
Includes: 8 Nights/ 7 Days of Skiing / 1 Day of Guided Freeriding & Stockli Ski Factory Tour

All the Details and trip signup forms can be found in the link below:

If you want to find out the true definition gemütlich this is the trip. It may be a few years before we come back so if experiencing the best of Switzerland and skiing and traveling with AJ Kitt would be on your bucket list – now is the time.