Two cantons, two cultures, one SkiArena. Since winter 2018/19, it has been possible to drive from Andermatt to Sedrun and back again. On ski and snowboard of course. A glimpse into what is now the largest ski area in Central Switzerland.
The new 10-person gondola lift rolls gently into the top station at 2600 metres above sea level. Even getting out of it makes an impression on us. The interior of the building is covered with stylish wooden planks, minimalist and functional, but not stuffy and cold as in other railway facilities. The right investments were made here, not pompously, as perhaps down in the valley, but adapted to the sensitive mountain landscape.
Outside, a panorama board shows us where we are: on the Schneehüenerstock in the middle of the new SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun. Orientation in this vast ski area is easy, as the slopes and lifts are all located on the same mountain ridge. Either you keep left, or you keep right, you can hardly get lost. We started in Andermatt in the canton of Uri and kept left towards the Oberalp pass and Grisons.
The slopes are covered with fresh snow, and it is the first beautiful day after a stormy period. However, the sun burns strongly; the temperatures are too high for the season. The snow is very soft and especially next to the piste already sticky. Nevertheless, freerides draw one line after the other into the fresh snow.
We suddenly see a slope with only two tracks. The inclination is moderate so that we also want to take a ride in fresh snow. But a rope with prohibition signs keeps us from doing so: Wildlife sanctuary zones. This is an essential habitat for grouse. Now we also know where the mountain with the mighty rock tower gets its name from.
We forgo the descent in deep snow and instead let the high alpine landscape take its effect on us. The rugged rock faces and jagged peaks of the Schijenstock and Schneehüenerstock are close enough to touch; on the other side, your gaze sweeps across countless mountain peaks and glaciers. To the west, we see the gondola lift leading up to the Gemsstock, to the east the Oberalp pass and the first lift from Sedrun. Arena truly is the appropriate expression for this coherent ski region in the heart of Switzerland.
Next, we ski the piste Hinter Felli. After a traverse, the slope opens up, and we enjoy the long descent down to the Oberalp pass, where Uri borders on Grisons. The surrounding terrain is steep and rocky. For this reason, it regularly happens that the ski run is closed in the afternoon, when the sunshine is at its strongest, because of the danger of avalanches. The connection between Andermatt and Sedrun is still guaranteed, instead of simply using the Schneehüenerstock-Express on the piste.
The modern gondola lift started operation in December 2018, as the last installation of the connection project between Andermatt and Sedrun. The area in question on the Oberalp Pass was developed with a total of three new railways. Furthermore, four new installations were built to replace old lifts. Mechanical snowmaking has also been expanded extensively.
It took four years of construction work to realise the ski area connection. The result is the largest and currently most modern ski region in Central Switzerland. 25 transport facilities, 67 pistes, 34 mountain restaurants are the impressive figures, including the Gemsstock and Disentis areas.
Behind the enormous investments is the Egyptian entrepreneur Samih Sawiris, who is pursuing and developing a gigantic tourism project in Andermatt. Around one billion Swiss francs are said to have been invested so far, not only on the mountain, but mainly in new hotels such as The Chedi or Radisson Blu and in the general village infrastructure.
After a refreshment break at Restaurant Alpsu, we get on the Oberalp Flyer, a 6-seater chair lift in Porsche design. We are now in the Sedrun part of the SkiArena and can be taken comfortably and quickly to the Calmut hill (2350 m). We could see the white pyramid, which stands like a guardian between Uri and Grisons, from far away. It is the perfect ski mountain with ideal slope inclination.
The piste leads us to a narrow bottom of the valley, where a chair lift takes you up left and right. Now we notice that people have been skiing here for more than two or three years. The lifts have an older construction year, the chairs are fixed to the rope and they are mounted by means of a conveyor belt.
At a slow pace we reach the Cuolm Val (2215 m), the second snow pyramid of the Sedrun ski area. Here the view opens into the Surselva, the mountain landscape is now softer and less rugged. And from here you can travel in one train to Sedrun-Dieni (1500 m).
The track is wide and beautifully broken, flat and steep sections alternate - so far, our favourite piste, so that we ride it again immediately. On the second descent, we stop at the ski hut Tegia Las Palas and enjoy the view over the settlement of Milez. The flair is different here than on the Andermatt side, where everything is urban and modern in style. We like the traditional and rustic better and enjoy when people speak Romanic.
It is already 3.30 pm. We originally wanted to go even further into the Disentis ski area, which can be reached from Sedrun-Dorf with a new aerial tramway since this winter. But there is no longer enough time for this.
If you take a lot of pictures and ski some pistes several times, one day is much too short to discover the whole ski region between Andermatt, Sedrun and Disentis. Therefore, we get on the train in Sedrun-Dieni, which takes us back to Andermatt. Looking at the passing mountain landscape, we think: Probably a whole life is not enough to discover this region in the heart of Switzerland.
Apart from the impressive scenery, we were impressed by the modern facilities, the limited but good signage and the long distances that can be covered in a short time. Sedrun is right in the middle of this winter wonderland and offers direct access to the SkiArena as far as Andermatt as well as the Disentis ski area - definitely a right place to spend a skiing holiday. However, you should only ski the connection between Andermatt and Sedrun, if you are a good skier