With world-class Engelberg-Titlis on one side and some of the most iconic mountains in the world — the Eiger, Jungfrau & Monch — on the other, Meiringen-Hasliberg gets lost in the shadow of Swiss alpine giants. You could see how middle-child syndrome might make it depressing for little Hasliberg. But pity isn`t what applies here…it`s more like envy from bigger siblings nearby.
By all rights we should refer to this Berner-Oberland ski area as Hasliberg (Hasli Mountain), but anyone searching for the ski area will inevitably find Meiringen–Haslital (Hasli Valley). The marketing department of Hasliberg often affixes the ski area`s name to the greater tourist draw, Meiringen, which is the town below the ski hill in the valley, thus the best part of the area (the berg, aka the mountain), somehow gets left out of the conversation…more middle-child syndrome setting in.
But less crowds than larger neighbors, excellent snowfall, varied terrain, views so beautiful you might go blind and mountain restaurants with perfect terraces for enjoying a beer under the Swiss sun make this ski area the envy of bigger, better-known ski resort siblings.
This isn`t to say Hasliberg is unknown to the outside world. A lot of Swiss residents from Bern & Thun, as well as German and Dutch visitors from abroad frequent this relatively small ski area by European Alps`standards. But resort statistics don`t tell the true tale of Hasliberg`s appeal and its ability to hold the crowds in a way that doesn`t leave you feeling cramped on the slopes.
With only 60km of manicured pistes, riders could easily overlook this mid-size ski area located on the south-side of Brünig Pass above Meiringen.
At an elevation of 2525m at highest point (lift access reaches 2433meters), you might think there`s no way it can compare with Engelberg or Jungfrau resorts near Interlaken, in terms of snow totals/quality, as these giants rise 1000meters higher.
But just like little, unassuming Klewenalp-Stockhütte proves, bigger isn`t always better.
Season length is inevitably shorter due to elevation and southerly aspect, but mid-season pow days at Hasliberg are some of the most fun in the region.
Meiringen-Hasliberg Off-piste Skiing & Snowboarding
The off-piste riding is excellent at Haslital, however, it`s southerly aspect and steep, rolly terrain features make avalanche danger a serious factor.
Compared to neighboring Engelberg-Titlis, the lower elevation coupled with too much sunshine (yeah, it`s hard to believe there`s such a thing as too much sun but we`re talking snow science here) can quickly deteriorate the snowpack as the day transitions from morning to afternoon. That said, if you`re there early on a mid-season pow day, you`ll likely have until around lunch time before the sun starts baking the upper snow layer and changes its consistency/stability.
If the sun stays behind the clouds though, many of the often crowdless weekday off-piste zones of Hasliberg can stay untouched for a couple of days following big dumps.
Exit the Alpen Tower six-seater gondola in either direction and you`ve got powder galore.
Go to riders-left out of the gondola then walk past the fantastic Panorama-restaurant Alpen Tower or grab a cheap, yummy sandwich on the way. After soaking in the epic views at the outlook spot, traverse out riders-left then begin your descent down a broad, mellow shoulder until you`re faced with the option of continuing right or left. If you choose left, you better have a parachute as a giant, unrideable cliff-zone drops away toward Meiringen, so we strongly advise that you begin funneling to the right through a steep slide-prone section, ultimately bringing you into a rolly forested area leading to the piste near Gummenalp. The wooded zone on either side is considered a protected wildlife area so don`t stray too far from the piste at this point.
You`ll either meet-up with the Spycher drag lift (a somwehat torturous 10 minutes for one-plankers) or continue downward primarily along pisted areas to the Reuti-Bidmi gondelbahn. If you by-pass the draglift toward Reuti-Bidmi, you`ll need to make a 2-section connection back to Mägisalp where you can hop back on the Alpen Tower gondola to the top.
If you decided to go right after exiting the Alpen Tower lift at the top, you have a pretty expansive bowl-shaped area with tons of options to drop into.
Directly under the gondola and to riders-left is the steeper area, but will require you to plan ahead on your descent as you`ll need to eventually get back to the right to access the piste to the bottom of the Alpen Tower gondola or the draglifts that sit mid-way between Planplatten and Rothorn.
Not to be confused with Sörenberg-Rothorn ski area a short distance North of Haslital, this part of the mountain is better if you have a guide showing you around the upper reaches of the ridgeline.
You can access this area directly from the Alpen Tower gondola by following Red piste #16 as far right as it goes, then hiking for a variable length of time (10 minutes to 1-hour) to reach the gnarly goods. There are serious chutes, steeps and cliffs that will make you salivate if you`re a hardcore rider looking to push the envelope. Otherwise, you can simply cycle the Tschüggi draglift and poach some fun (short) off-piste zones on either side of the t-bar.
Another option which is longer and definitely requires a bit of local guidance along the undulating journey through wide open pow fields, gullies and roll-over rocky zones, is to traverse far right from the draglift, and ride all the way toward the Mägisalp-Häägen Sesselbahn. This is a great run with varied advanced terrain, but will take you to an entirely different section of the mountain making the return to the top of the Alpen Tower a longer journey.
This part of the Haslital ski area adjacent to the Rothorn riding zone is one of the steepest, most tantalizing off-piste sections of the entire ski area. It`s also one of the most treacherous.
Most of the lines under the Hääggen-Glogghüs chair-lift don`t see much traffic at all. It`s not because it`s hard to access or frighteningly steep, but this section of the mountain gets baked by the sun (like many other parts of Hasliberg) creating an extremely dangerous avalanche scenario throughout most of the season. The safer, rideable off-piste is generally below the bottom station of the Häägen lift, providing a few hundred meters of rolly fun.
If you decide to drop under the lift from the top at 2433meters, make sure you know where the giant crack(s) are which often form in more than one place (aka, giant slab avalanches waiting to happen). Piste riders should also be very wary of this area, as a large avalanche buried unsuspecting piste skiers during the 2011-12 winter, reminding everyone that avalanche safety preparedness is something all snowsports practitioners should engage in.
Coincidentally, the backside of Glogghüs serves as the border between Meiringen-Haslital in the Berner-Oberland and Zentralschweiz ski area, Melchsee-Frütt. Access into Melchsee-Frütt from this point is not adviseable however, as a sheer cliff face drops away off the backside.
Much like the Glogghüs area, this section of the mountain dropping toward Mägisalp accessible from the top of the Käserstatt-Höchstrasse sesselbahn (Sunne Express), will make you drool, but can also make you dead.
Aside from the sun factor which heavily bakes this area of the mountain, there is a massive cliff zone about midway down to riders-left. If you know the way down, it`s a fantastic, smile-inducing, mid-steepness off-piste route that also cuts down travel time from one side of the ski area to the other, but requires pre-drop knowledge to negotiate the run-out.
You`ll notice at nearly the same point every track makes a sharp turn to the right…follow those tracks. Otherwise, you can check out of your hotel and reserve a room in the hospital.
Another option from the top of the Käserstatt-Höchstrasse sesselbahn is to veer casually left into the mellow off-piste area beside Red piste #8, eventually cutting back to the right onto the piste near the bottom Käserstatt station for a return ride up the lift.
Meiringen-Hasliberg On-piste Skiing & Snowboarding
The pisted terrain at Haslital isn`t extraordinary in terms of quantity, but everyone knows quality is what counts. The pistes at Hasliberg generally maintain an intermediate pitch and provide enough vertical to keep you from spending your whole day riding on chair-lifts instead of riding on snow.
Pistes # 8 & 9 descending from Höchstrasse are some of the steepest at the ski area and can get a bit bulletproof during dry spells or busy weekends, but are marvelous in good conditions.
Red #15 & 16 alongside the Tschuggi draglift are also pretty speedy and a lot of fun, but all of the pistes funneling down from the Alpen Tower (including Red #18-19) flatten-out considerably before regaining enough steepness to get you smiling again on your way down to Mägisalp, Spycher or Reuti-Bidmi.
Another fun piste starts at the top of the Hääggen-Glogghüs chair-lift. This is a somewhat flattish yet speedy track running along the ridgeline between Hasliberg and Melchsee-Frütt. If you`re trying to reach the Käserstatt side from the Alpen Tower side of the mountain, ascend from Mägisalp up the Häägen-Glogghüs 4-seat chair, then bomb the Red#9 piste past Hochsträss on a long run down toward Wasserwendi.
All in all, piste riding at Haslital is good for all skill levels. There isn`t much in the way of Super-G style downhills, but there`s enough on-piste options to keep most piste-bashers happy all day.
Meiringen-Hasliberg Skiing & Snowboarding for Children
The children`s ski area at Bidmi is a wonderful place for little ones to learn . It`s a safe, flat, comfortable environment for young kids to build confidence and offers parents the perfect spot to relax in the sun with a beverage.
Bidmi also serves as a junction point for riders coming from the Alpen Tower side trying to return to the Twing parking lot at Wasserwendi via the nostalgic 2-seater sesselbahn Bidmi-Käserstatt.
Meiringen-Hasliberg Freestyle Skiing & Snowboarding
There isn`t a terrain park at Hasliberg (which says a lot about the focal point of riding at this Bernese alpine gem), but there is a skier-boarder cross course — Coop Skicross Park — accessible from the 4-seat sesselbahn Mägisalp-Hääggen.
There`s a designated starting gate at the entry point between Red piste #12 & Blue #13, so be careful that you don`t plow into someone waiting for their turn. The course has some nice rolls, twists and turns but can get jammed up with snow sliders who probably shouldn`t really be in there, so stay under control when you come around the blind corners or over the rolls. It`s a good idea to have someone scouting ahead for you to make sure the coast is clear. That way you can charge this fun little X-Cross course the way it was meant to be charged.
When you get to the bottom there`s a magic carpet and tow-rope to help you make it back to the Mägisalp junction.
Meiringen-Hasliberg Ski Lifts
There isn`t anything magnificent about the lift system at Hasliberg, but there isn`t anything that ruins your day either.
The lift layout is decently planned and minimalistic, explaining why this somewhat small Swiss area seems far more expansive when you`re on the hill. The lifts utilize the terrain nicely without cluttering the rideable area and allow skiers-snowboarders to maximize the far reaches of the ski resort without ever feeling lost or scared of ending up in a place without a way back to somewhere familiar.
As to be expected of Swiss ski resort infrastructure, the lift system is efficient and generally fast enough. There are also some old, nostalgic 2-seaters that let you breath in the Bernese alpine air in a way missing from many larger ski areas.
Train: What a surprise…it`s as easy to reach Hasliberg via Meiringen by train as anywhere else in Switzerland. You`ve got connections from Luzern or Interlaken, which both have daily connections throughout many of Europe`s major cities including Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt and Milan to name a few.
Car: Coming from the North, follow the A8 motorway past Luzern, continue West by Sarnen, drive over the Brünig Pass toward Interlaken and you`ll reach Meiringen in the valley below Haslital ski area. It`s not as simple as 1-2-3, as Brünig Pass can be a bit crowded with motorists and commonly covered with ice & snow, so expect travel times by car from Luzern to be around 1hr. to 1.5 hours, and from Zürich or Basel 1.5 hrs. to 2 hours. If you`re driving from Bern in the West, follow the A6 toward Spiez, then connect with the A8 at Interlaken. Meiringen is approximately 30-40 minutes from there.
Plane: Normally for Central Swiss ski areas we`d say fly into Zurich Airport or Euro Airport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg then via Luzern by train to the ski area. But Haslital is in the Berner-Oberland, albeit just across the border from Zentralschweiz, making Bern-Belp Airport a closer option with travel time of 1-hour to Meiringen. Otherwise, flying into Zürich or Basel only adds 20-30 minutes more to your transfer time.
One heads up for the drive to Haslital and one heads up for the riding.
*The drive from the Northeast over Brünig Pass can get hairy if the weather is bad. Combine that with heavy traffic — including too many semi-trucks in our opinion — and your scenic Swiss Alps drive along a beautfiul mountain road becomes a white-knuckle stress-fest really fast. Make sure you allow enough time for traffic congestion and always be prepared with winter driving essentials including snow chains for your tires.
*As for the riding, pay close attention to avalanche forecasts and changes in snow conditions while you`re on the hill. The terrain at Meiringen-Haslital is super fun and often has plentiful powder conditions, but the South-facing, sun-drenched aspect of the ski area makes it highly prone to avalanches throughout the entire winter season. This warning goes for on & off piste snow sliders, as some of the runs, especially below Glogghüs, are in very precarious avy slide paths.
Meiringen-Haslital has a lot going on besides sweet pow days and apres beers on perfect, sunny mountainside terraces. Two annually-held sports competitions are especially interesting.
The International Dog Sled Race at Gadmen during late February is where 100 teams from all over the world compete amidst one of Switzerland`s most rugged & magnificent backdrops, Sustenpass.
Later in the season in mid-March, two-legged animals — alpine skiers, snowboarders & telemarkers — compete in 3-person teams to see which group can ascend-descend the Alpen Tower the most times spanning 7 hours over one day. It`s an insane, multi-team free-for-all with only the strongest surviving until 17:30 (5:30pm) when the final results are tallied.