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Sunday February 12, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

The Swiss resort of Engelberg with its 'Big 5' ski routes mean that there is certainly no lack of challenge for the keen and extreme freeriders out there. NEW

Laub - Sulz - Steintäli - Steinberg - Galtiberg

These are the "Big 5" that make Engelberg such a good destination for freeriders.

All five descents can be reached without having to take off skis and have some of the most snow-sure conditions for off piste skiers out there.

2014 Olympic downhill winner Dominique Gisin is an Engelberg native.

Since her retirement from world cup racing, she thinks of just one thing as winter nears; Take the new Titlis Xpress to 3000m and do the "Big 5" in deep powder.

"Not just Central Switzerland, but all of Europe should be proud of these five routes," says Dominique.

"The conditions here are an absolute dream for freeriders."

The PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, visited Engelberg last winter - find out what he made of it here, the Engelberg Enigma.

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Powder galore

The Titlis is not just the highest peak in Central Switzerland, it is also the first elevation of the Alps.

With a north-west location, the snow comes down in abundance and the ski season lasts from early November until late May.

From Zurich airport, no other freeride area with such reliable snow can be reached as quickly as Engelberg as it takes 90 minutes - with another 30 to get up to the peak.

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5 days, 5 downhill runs

"Maybe Steintäli is a good warm-up", Dominique says about the "Big 5".

"But at Sulzli, it already takes condition and skill to get ready for the perfect freeride the next day: Laub is a 1000m drop and pure joy!"

But the most challenging runs are yet to come - the Steinberg glacier route and finally, the jewel in the crown, the wild ride at Galtiberg with a spectacular traverse.

Safety first

"This is actually the crux of the matter", Dominique comments seriously. 

"If you want to have fun with backcountry skiing, you shouldn't go by yourself. It's too easy to get lost."

Even she, a native who knows every bump and gets information about every crevasse and sudden change in the weather before every tour, never skis the "Big 5" alone.

She advises anyone, however experienced, to go with a local guide.

"They guarantee a maximum of enjoyment and a minimum of risk."

The Snow & Safety Days is a course put on for those interested in learning more about how to ski such places safely.

Recommended by Dominique and running from January to March, the freeride training is at no cost for visitors with a guest card.

To book an activity in the ski area, visit the site here.

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See more of the famous freeriding ski resort here.

And find out what PlanetSKI makes of Engelberg.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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