Zwei Personen mit Winterkleidung sitzen in einer roten kleinen Gondel

Winter sports

Responsible ski touring

Portrait von Anja
Sales employee, Transa store Europaallee Zurich
© Fotos

Transa’s Anja is passionate about hiking in the mountains. She believes in treating nature as respectfully as possible. For travelling, catering or tour planning: the environment comes first.

With sun cream already on my face, still a little tired but looking forward to the sun and snow, I meet my colleague Larissa at the station in Zurich this Sunday morning. Our goal: a ski tour that includes traversing various peaks from the Schächental in Uri down to Muotathal in Schwyz. Whenever possible, we prefer to travel by public transport – not only because it’s better for the environment, but also because there are many exciting tours that start and finish in different places. It’s also important to us that we only travel reasonable distances from home by public transport, especially on one-day tours.

The first few meters without touring skis

When we arrive in Altdorf, the Alpine taxi is already waiting for us at the train station. As arranged by phone the evening before, we board the rear coaches in Zurich and get off quickly when we arrive in Altdorf, because there’s another group waiting for us who have arrived there a little earlier. This means the driver can fully load the bus with equipment and people. So, instead of the half-full bus going twice to the Schächental, we only need to travel once with all the people and equipment on board. The journey is short and winding and ends at the valley station for the small mountain railway to Ratzi. Since we let the large group go first, we have the cosy little gondola to ourselves. I like these small private gondolas in Switzerland, which make the first few metres of ascent on ski tours a little easier. If there’s enough snow, there’s also a second option for travelling further: a ski lift right next to the mountain railway.

You start the tour on a south-facing slope, where the snow cover can be quite light. But it’s good enough for the ascent. We have hardly set off before the sun rises over the Schärhorn mountain. What a great start to the tour! Up to the Grätli, which allows us access to the north side of the Muotathal. It’s a wonderful climb in the morning sun. After the short ascent on foot over the Grätli, we can literally smell the powder snow. To our left, there’s the Gamperstock peak with its beautiful north-east slopes. You can easily incorporate speedy, snowy descents on its slopes into this tour.

  • Skifahrerinnen steigen mit Gepäck in den Zug ein

    You can reach the start point of the ski tour in just over an hour and a half by train from the main Zurich station.

    Photo © Raphael Zeller
  • Zwei Skifahrerinnen schauen sich eine Tafel mit der Wildruhezone an
    Photo © Raphael Zeller
  • Karte, eingezeichnet ist die Skitour von der Talstation Ratzi nach Muotathal.
  • Two people ascending on touring skis.
    Photo © Raphael Zeller
  • Zwei Skitourer laufen im Schnee den Berg hoch
    Photo © Raphael Zeller

Instead of traversing earlier to gain altitude, we’re tempted by the beautiful, untouched powder snow, so we ski down to Gross Dürrseeli. We can hardly believe our luck! Afterwards, we put our skins back on our skis and continue at an unhurried pace through the Grundplanggen to the Höch Pfaffen. The atmosphere in this area is enchanting. The new powder snow glistens in the sun and the rugged limestone rock towers rise up over us. Once we arrive at Höch Pfaffen we have a hearty lunch. Larissa and I have prepared a lunch of fresh vegetables, cheese and homemade power bars. I can’t leave rubbish in the mountains, even if it’s not mine. I’ve found that the best way is to make sure I don’t take anything disposable in the first place. With Tupperware or glass storage pots, beeswax cloths and a bit of planning, it’s easy. We enjoy the sun on our faces once again before heading up the shady northern slopes towards Muotathal.

Respecting protected areas on ski tours

The slopes up to Wängi are incredible and we can’t help shouting for joy. We continue at a leisurely pace from Wängi to Lipplisbüel through the idyllic, snow-covered valley. The western mountainside above the valley is home to various animals and is therefore a designated wildlife “quiet zone”. Wild animals are weaker in winter and risk losing much of their precious energy when stressed. So before we set off on our tour we found out where these special zones and wildlife protection areas are so that we could avoid them. We’ve also avoided the forest for this reason, keeping instead to the Alpine road.

After descending over 1,800 metres in one go, we arrive at the “Hintere Brücke” bus stop in Muotathal – a welcome sight as our legs are very tired now. What a luxury that the excellent snow conditions mean we can ski right up to the bus stop. Fortunately, the public bus runs twice an hour to Schwyz, so we didn’t have to plan to get there at an exact time. From Schwyz, the train takes us on towards Zurich and, after just under two hours, we’re back at the main train station. A successful ski tour from Schächental to Muotathal: this tour can be combined with many different peaks in the surrounding area. Descents both leisurely and thrilling cap off a wonderful day of touring on the border between the cantons of Schwyz and Uri.

Tips: responsible ski touring

Right this way to detailed tour information.

Ski tour info

Total duration: approx. 6 hr 15 min, distance: 17.51 km, altitude gain: 1,260 m ascent, 2,140 m descent

Moderate (difficulty scales: SAC ski touring scale)

Start point: Ratzi mountain station, Spiringen – Ratzi cable car, end point: Hintere Brücke bus stop, Muotathal. Exposure: NE, SW, W, NW

Plan your route carefully using a map, tour guide and the internet. Take into account the weather conditions and avalanche risk, duration, difficulty and the participants and their abilities. On winter tours on unsecured terrain, avalanche transceivers, shovels and probes should be considered standard equipment.
Continuously assess the conditions, terrain and conditions of the people involved. Turn back in good time.

avalanche bulletin and more
avalanche prevention portal
Step-by-step tour planning, SAC
Natur & Freizeit association, Snow Sports and Respect

Equipment for ski touring

Share the articleResponsible ski touring

  • Free shipping from CHF 99

    (With the TransaCard always free of charge)

  • Secure and easy payment
  • 14 days cancellation right