by: Patrick Thorne - 21st January 2007

  • 3
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert
  • 3All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 3Family Friendly
  • 3Aprés Ski
  • 2Terrain Park
  • Overall Value

Full review

Small, friendly and relaxed, Château d'Oex caters for all comers and all ages. The posh crowd stay in nearby Gstaad. Switzerland is never cheap but Chateau d’Oex is the high value option in the area, giving you access to the glitz and facilities of Gstaad at a fraction of the price of staying there. So a holiday choice rather than a tough mountain. This was the home for many years of classic actor David Niven. As famous for its ballooning as its skiing, the world’s first balloon to circumnavigate the earth, the Breitling Orbiter, took off from Château d'Oex. Château d'Oex has a small, low ski area of its own at La Braye, served by a gondola, a chair and a handful of drags. The toughest run is a black alongside the Montagnette drag which drops through trees, then meadow and into the trees again. If the snow is good you can continue right down to the village on blues or reds, the longest run 8km (5 miles). However most people above intermediate standard staying more than a couple of days here will need more though, so many opt for the Gstaad Superski pass and hop on the regular train service that links half a dozen ski resorts along the valley. At almost every station you can hop off and straight on to a gondola in to another ski area – all with fast Swiss efficiency. The Superski Pass is on the Swiss language border between German and French communities. You speak French in resort, German ten minutes down the road. The Diablerets glacier, also on the pass, requires and extra bus journey but its worth it for the wonderful long run of 14km (9 miles), mostly easy but with one steep black mogul section, which eventually takes you back to the ski bus stop at Reusch on the road to Gstaad. You will ski a 1650m (5414feet) vertical on this one descent. There’s a total of 250km (160 miles) of runs on the pass.
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