The Magic of Arosa
by Ted Heck
The journey to the well-known Swiss resort of Arosa can have as much magic as following Finian’s Rainbow. Let me tell you about my first trip to this fashionable resort with my fiancée Connie.
We drove to the medieval city of Chur, capital of Graübünden, eastern-most canton of Switzerland. We stayed in the romantic Hotel Stern, after strolling through cobblestone streets and imagining life of centuries ago. The next morning we spent an hour driving up through a stunning landscape of alpine meadows, forests and gorges—with so many switchbacks I thought I would suffer from gear shift wrist. When we made a final turn Arosa rose from the snow, like a German-speaking Glocca Morra.
How were things in this remote health resort? Well, for starters, we saw the frozen lake on which you can skate, when they are not racing horses or greyhounds. Hotels and apartments appeared to spread out in different sections of the village. Well-dressed shoppers stepped aside for horse drawn sleighs in the commercial area.
It was a classic scene straight out of a brochure, especially when we looked up at the vast skiing terrain. High above was the Weisshorn, a south-facing mountain nearly 9,000 feet high. Arosa’s base elevation is 5,900 feet, so the vertical drop is less than 2,800, modest when compared with many other resorts in the Alps but ideal for cruising. Nearly 40 miles of prepared runs are serviced with 13 lifts.
Across from the Weisshorn is slightly lower Hörnli area. Between them are billowing snowfields on which intermediates can have a ball. Experts don’t have as many choices; only 15 percent of the area is considered advanced. Connie and I enjoyed the wide, groomed trails, nearly always above the treeline. We did not get bored.
Advanced skiers can be content with miles and miles of off-piste, and if they are truly adventurous they can make a backcountry adventure over to Lenzerheide, another popular resort in the region..
Maybe experts should be philosophical and believe they have made a sacrifice for their families. This is a place for parents to be with their leprechauns.
Sixteen miles of cross country loops and 37 miles of winter walking paths make this a popular resort for folks who do not have the compulsion to rush downhill on skis or snowboards. Some of these paths cut through groomed pistes, but skiers can look far enough ahead to avoid strollers.
Other winter activities include parasailing and hang gliding, ballooning, curling. Fitness center, swimming and tennis are indoor pastimes. Although Arosa draws a quiet, affluent crowd, the tourist office is helpful in finding suitable accommodations for every pocketbook.
Connie and I felt we had successfully chased our own rainbow.