Snowboarding - Gstaad / Saanen


Gstaad / Saanen





Skiable vertical:



9 (2 draglifts)

Total lift vert:

2300m +

Slope orientation:

North- and East-facing

slope orientation diagram

This small ski resort is one of the collection of resorts called "Gstaad Mountain Rides", and unlike some of the others (like Zweisimmen), it's actually fairly close to Gstaad as well. It's a small but scenic resort, and gets especially rocky higher up, where you could almost believe you're in the dolomites rather than the alps.

Gstaad town itself seems to consist more or less of a single pedestrianised watch-shopping street and a hotel built like a castle. Somehow the name has become famous for high-society skiing but there appears to be neither huge amounts of skiing on the doorstep nor significant nightlife. Presumably it all happens inside the expensive hotels.

Getting there

For a zoomable, scrollable map of the areas, see this online map using Openstreetmap or Opencyclemap.

This particular set of lifts between Gstaad and Saanen has base stations fairly close to both towns, but it would be a long walk from either town centres. More realistically you'll arrive either by post bus or by car, although beware the car parks are not big.

As with Zweisimmen (because they share the same ticket system), note that the ski tickets cover public transport, but only until 6:00 pm - after that, the enthusiastic ticket collectors will delight in charging you CHF 14 or upwards for bus or train travel.

From Zürich by train, you probably need to change in Bern and/or Spiez, with a total time of around 3 hours. The "Snow and Rail" ticket from Zürich (with a halbtax card) currently costs CHF 96 for a single day or CHF 143 for 2 days, but this also covers other areas such as Zweisimmen and Les Diablerets. It doesn't seem possible to buy a ticket just for one or two of these areas. There's an obligatory 5 CHF deposit on the card but there are plenty of places to get the money back (including the train stations).

By car from Zürich, you can drive to Gstaad in somewhere between 2h30 and 3 hours (depending on traffic). It's all highway through Bern and Spiez but then becomes a narrow and very twisty valley road through villages. A day ticket for the lifts currently costs CHF 59 or double that for two days.

Slopes and lifts

plot of the pistes at Gstaad
3D plot of the Gstaad / Saanen area, showing some of the runs and lifts

When all the lifts are running, this resort stretches all the way from Gstaad-Eggli to Rougemont, with several ridges inbetween. At the time of writing, however, the Gstaad-Eggli runs are temporarily closed due to lack of snow, and the Rougemont lift is also (permanently?) closed. So that leaves a rather strange shape to the resort, with just one base at Saanen-Eggli.

Most of the remaining runs are gentle blues, with just a smattering of fairly easy reds. The longest runs to be had are under the Saanen-Eggli chairlift and under the long K1 chairlift between Chalberhöni and Les Gouilles. The high point of La Videmanette is reachable by a little shuttling cable car but is only really interesting for the restaurant and the spectacular views among the rocky peaks, the off-piste from there is hard and the single red run tame.

There are lots of combinations of runs in the higher sections, under both lifts below Les Gouilles, and another bunch below the J6 lift from Chalberhöni to Stand. These will easily keep you occupied for a whole day, but for longer than that you'll probably want to explore the other "Gstaad" resorts nearby, like Château d'Oex to the West, Gstaad-Wispile or Les Diablerets to the South or Zweisimmen to the East.

Flat spots and drags

There are only two draglifts here, both of which are T-bars. The lower one, J4, is both friendly and completely avoidable, as you can just take the long chairlift from the Saanen base instead. The higher one, J2, is unfortunately neither, with steep dropoffs very close to the side of the lift. It's also a vital connection lift from the Saanen side to the whole upper area, so you can't really avoid it either. With the current closure of both the Rougemont and Gstaad lifts, this draglift is the only way up, so if you don't like it you're stuck to a single chairlift.

As far as flat bits go, the long blue 82 from Les Gouilles to the base of the long K1 chairlift can get flat in places, and the approach to the bottom of the J6 lift will certainly require some scooting. Apart from that, it's all pretty manageable.


Again, they don't seem to put much effort into building jumps here, there are just a handful of small hard obstacles. Play instead in the plentiful off-piste, particularly under lift L4 down to Rubloz.

Latest conditions

7 March 2010 - Mostly good snow with just a few icy patches. Off-piste is fantastic in many places. Runs down to Gstaad are currently closed due to lack of snow though, and the long lift from Rougemont up to La Videmanette is apparently permanently closed, meaning that all the runs down to Rougemont are also effectively out.

More info

The home page for the whole "Gstaad" resort is at To get to the piste map you have to go to "Cable cars", then "Calendar and Tickets", then "Winter prices", and then "view larger map" (why make it easy?) - or you can try your luck with this direct jpeg link which no doubt will change soon. Snow'n'Rail details are at

For hiking in the nearby area, see the Alpine Pass Route which comes south of here through Adelboden, Lenk and Lauenen.

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