• BLOG
  • Engstlenalp – One More Time By Bike

    Switzerland Engtslensee MTB

    I will always have a sweet spot for the old two seated chairlifts. The nostalgic, a bit scary and very rusty slow lifts, getting you up and sometimes down, summer and winter.

    And having crown up and learned to ski with a special one – vanha tuolihissi = “old chairlift” as it simply was called in Pyhä Ski Resort in Lapland –  quite naturally the two seated chairlift between Jochpass and Engstlenalp in Engelberg – with the cute wooden old station buildings – became fast my favourite in Switzerland.

    Though not really just for the nostalgic value, but also for connecting Engelberg with the very nice hiking, trailrunning, climbing, mountain biking and skiing in the Engstlensee direction, and further on the Berner Oberland.

    Unfortunately, as the trend goes, it will now be the last week for that cutie. This October, the old Engstlen sessellift will be retired, and replaced with a new modern big shiny fast six chairlift, on time for the winter season. Snif.

    But oh boy, did we get lucky to have this free Monday, on the last week the lift was up and running. A bluebird, semi-warm and full of autumn colors day for a proper goodbye to the old lift and for a tiny enduro ride by bikes.

    Except in downhills and flow trails I was so slow that only got to ride the lift once. Not enough for really say it was a proper goodbye. Though it wasn’t just me slow, it was also the good lunch in Rossbodenhütte (note: October is the hunting season in Switzerland and especially around Engelberg the restaurants of all kinds take the most of it, offering special wild menus and definitely fresh ingredients) which didn’t leave us much time for bike fun but which made it above ordinary occasion.

    And oh boy those autumn colors. And that boy. And the lucky strangers who have cabin like this.

    Haslital Engstlenalp MTB

    Hell's Bells Trail Engstlensee

    Engstlensee Engelberg MTB

    Engstlensee Autumn 2019


    Where: Engstlenalp (Engelberg / Haslital), Berner Oberland, Switzerland 

    How by bike: Down to Engstlenalp leads a Hell’s Bells -named bike trail from Jochpass (titlisbahn -ticket and bike pass needed for the lifts). Engstlensee also sits by the 4 lakes (enduro) biketour, and offers hotel and restaurants for breaks of any length. A very nice tour is also to bike to or from Frutt Lodge & Spa and pay a visit to the best Finnish Sauna in the region.  Because you’re worth it.

     

  • BLOG
  • Mountain Staycation In Engelberg – Huttour To Rugghubelhütte

    Tiina Kivelä Rugghubelhütte Engelberg

    Note to self: always bring to the mountains a wine bottle (or few) with screw top. Or even better, support your local wine providers in remote places by buying it in place. Especially in Switzerland, where even the remotest of mountain huts offer excellent wine for fair price.

    But that about the wine. Because this one night staycation in my backyard in Rugghubelhütte was way more than just a bottle of wine shared in sunset and full moon. (After all, there wasn’t even wine because the wrong top and some other reasons.)

    Simply, it was one night mountain hut tour in bluebird September weather. From Engelberg to Rugghubelhütte, which sits in the sunny side of the Engelberg valley – 2296m above sea level – behind of appr. 3h hiking uphill. (The hike can be adjusted to slightly lighter by utilising the local lifts and stopping for drink of two on the way, as the offerings of local restaurants and farms are plenty.) And if you prefer running and racing, the annual Engelberg Berglauf follows the same route too (fastest times for the a bit over 1200 ascent and 8km falling under 1h).

    For the two of us – me and a friend visiting – it was now  a hike up to the hut the afternoon before. Just in time for dinner, sunset and full moon. And the next day – after a good night’s sleep, a little morning yoga and a large morning coffee – a little detour to higher grounds before descending back down to valley. With marmot sightings and more or less deep talks.

    For some others staying the night in the hut, it was a tour from Bannalp and back to Bannalp, with just a sight to Titlis and Engelberg below in the valley. We also passed some climbers and slight alpinists too, on their way to the walls and tops in the area. Which is kinda normal, because Rugghubelhütte offers a good basecamp for many kinds of activities in summer and winter. And pretty epic sunset, in good weather.

    It was also just natural to end the good tour with afterhike in Ski Lodge Engelberg terrace. In our smelly sweaty hiking clothes (again very hot for September), eating and drinking and solving our first world problems.

    And trying to glue in mind the wine bottle rule. (Alternatively, always carry a swiss knife with all kinds of bottle openers.)

     

    Rugghubelhütte Switzerland

    Sunset Rugghubelhütte

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

     

    Rugghubelhütte Hiking

    Rugghubelhütte Engelberg Valley

    Rugghubelhütte Huttour

    Ski Lodge Engelberg


    Where: Rugghubelhütte, Engelberg, Switzerland

    More tips for hut tours in Switzerland behind this link. 

  • BLOG
  • What To Hike in Switzerland – Try Via Alpina

    Via Alpina Engelberg Switzerland

    A small faded pink mountain hotel dating back to 1892 sits at 1835m in Engstlenalp in Berner Oberland, Switzerland. Surrounded by alpine meadows, small farms and ice cold Engstlensee. In the distance, the iconic Berner Alps and Mount Titlis at the other side give an excellent background for all kinds of alpine endeavours.

    It’s almost like a set for a Wes Anderson movie. Or Sound of Music. Except real.

    Engstlenalp is an excellent place for alpine climbing, a resting point for a road bike tour on one of the most scenic routes in central Switzerland (from Innertkirchen through cute village of Gental), or for an enduro mountain bike tour on Engelberg – Melchsee-Frutt – Meiringen area (there goes a nice flowtrail from Juchpass down to Engstlensee too).

    Or for a night or two on a classic Via Alpina hike.

    The Swiss section of international Via Alpina – 5000km long hiking / walking trail network through five Alpine countries – draws a cross-cutting line of excellent hiking trail through Switzerland. From Monteux in west to Vaduz in east, Via Alpina offers clearly marked trail with rich variety of alpine traditions, (amazing) views, outdoor challenges and flora and fauna.

    And  when in July couple of my friends came to Switzerland to hike a few stages of the official Via Alpina from Engelberg to Interlaken, I decided to join them and see what the Via Alpina was all about.

    And now I may say that it’s definitely worth a try. For one or two stages or for the whole 390km trail across Switzerland. Topped with the cute little mountain huts and alpine hotels found on the way as the already mentioned Hotel Engstlenalp (in the last pic).

    The trail is well marked with the official Via Alpina signs, and the different stages can be reached with public transport which also easily gets you back from the end point of your chosen completed stage. There are also plenty of mountain huts, hotels, guesthouses and restaurants right by the trail or a bit further, easily combined with a multi day tour along Via Alpina.

    And don’t forget to keep your eyes and ears open for all the magnificent views, alpine traditions and wildlife.

    Internet is full of stories and practical information for the whole Via Alpina and it’s stages, so I will not repeat it all here. But, I could advice you to check the freshly printed My Switzerland guide for Via Alpina, for which my friend who’s hiked all the stages made a great contribution to, for the most comprehensive starting point for your research.

    And if you happen to stop for a night in Engstlenalp, leave proper time for a traditional alpine breakfast in their breakfast room which sends you directly to the old times when gore-tex and gps watches where nowhere to be seen.

    You will also not find WiFi in here.

    Via Alpina Engstlenalp

    Engstlenalp Engelberg Via Alpina

    Engstlenalp Tiina Kivelä

    Where: Engstlenalp, Berner Oberland, Switzerland