We skied less than a half-hour, but our group of 18 friends had a great time in [R424R, St. Moritz] anyway. The "Top of the World" resort lives up to its motto, even when new powder snow plays second fiddle to the town's other attractions.

We decided to sample the vast terrain of the posh resort, a spectacular hour and a half train ride away, during a week of skiing on the imposing array of interconnected mountains in [R630R, Davos]/[R633R, Klosters], 

Instead of whisking us up to treeless slopes, a representative of the tourist office led us to the chic Carlton Hotel for a look at how the rich and famous spend their off-piste time. Beautifully furnished suites ranged in price from four to eight thousand euros, a far cry from what we paid at our National Hotel in Davos. Pat, a member of our group, used a different form of measurement than dollars: she counted twice as many complementary items in the bathroom.

The Carlton treated us to breakfast and then we rode to the top of a lift on the Celerina side. We had one run down to a mid-mountain point, where we listened to the concept of a new, model safety program "Chillout Riding" that puts the fun back into skiing. Some of us listened intently, others fidgeted to get going.

We finally moved on and skied down to lunch at "el Paradiso" a wonderful on-mountain restaurant and enjoyed a three-hour lunch: fine food and drink, topped by cremeschnitte, a gourmet dessert made of cake and cream.

We skied back down to the base after lunch and then went touring and window shopping in town. We passed elegant shops with colorful displays and strolled among smartly dressed skiers and pedestrians. The architecture, too, captivated us.

There was panic, however, when we saw that our train would leave in five minutes. We sprinted to the station where our ski equipment hapharzardly lay in a flat-bed truck. No time to sort skis and boots by owner, so we grabbed all of them and literally chucked them onto the train through any open doorway. The RailEurope train departed exactly on time, before we were seated and indeed like a fine Swiss watch. 

We counted noses to make sure everybody was aboard. Our faith that all our equipment was on the train, too, was justified. Actually, we had scooped up one set too many, that of our guide. Swiss efficiency and a cell phone call to our trip leader solved the problem. We dropped off the equipment at the first stop.

It was dark during the return trip and we missed the scenery that makes the stretch of track between St. Moritz and Davos one of the most scenic on the route of the famed Glacier Express.

No one was unhappy with the day. Not even hard-core skiers. Short on skiing, long on laughs was the consensus at dinner.