Skiing with Kids: Flumserberg

Flumserberg is the resort of choice for Zurichers, as it is quite close to Zurich and easy to access with public transportation. It’s a medium sized resort with pistes suitable for all skill levels. For kids, we like that they have drop-in ski lessons, free magic carpets for absolute beginners, nice wide blue runs for beginners, as well as lots of advanced terrain for parents. The kids love the forest trails that have lots of little jumps and bumps. Of course, it is very popular and can get very crowded on sunny weekends.

Location:   Eastern Switzerland
Address: Tannenalp, Flums, CH
GPS: 46°54’48.7″N 9°09’46.0″E
Car: ~1hr15mins from ZH
Train: ~1hr30 from ZH
Suitable for: all levels
Lift type: magic carpet, T-bars, chairs & cable cars
Sample Prices 2016: 62 CHF adult, 31 CHF kids
Half-day discount: afternoon tickets and partial day refund tickets
More info: www.flumserberg.ch – webcams – piste map 2016

 

Getting There

By car: Drive to the town of Flums, then up the mountain another 20 mins to the parking near the Tanneboden-Maschgenkamm cable car. On your way up, you’ll pass the Tannenheim parking lot, which access the Prodalp side of Flumserberg, where you’ll find the ski fun park with jumps. We prefer the Tannenboden side for little kids. They plow the mountain roads but if the snow is particularly heavy, they will require snow tires on the road from Flums up to Tannenboden. In bad weather, you can alternatively park in Flums and take the bus up or park in Unterterzen and take the cable car up to the resort.

By transit: take the train to Unterterzen. The cable car is adjacent to the train station. You can buy your lift pass, including a small fee for the cable cars that take you up to the resort. If these cable cars close due to wind, a bus will take you down the mountain and to a train station.

Overview

You can see the full 2016 piste map here. Below is a portion of the map showing areas suitable for beginning skiiers.  At #1 below is the magic carpets, tow rope, and snow garden. The International Ski Club Zurich meets here. At #2 you’ll find two T-bar lifts, at the bottom of which the Flumserberg ski school meets. The B2 chair lift at #3 accesses beginner runs.

The map is a little misleading. There is a big hill between the T-Bars and the Tannenboden area.

Ski School

We have done two types of ski lessons at Flumserberg. For the past few years, we have done lessons organized but the International Ski Club of Zurich and we really like it. They hold lessons on 4 consecutive Saturdays and Sundays in January. It’s a full day lesson 10:00-15:00, with an hour break for lunch. The instructors all speak English and other languages. These classes meet in the snow garden near Tannenboden, not by the T-bars where the regular ski school meets. See details on their website.

We have also done lessons run by the Flumserberg ski school. You can reserve ahead and sign up for a whole week of lessons. But you can also simply show up any morning (10am-12pm) or afternoon (2-4pm) and join a skill-appropriate class. And while I waited, I took my three year old up to the free magic carpet so he could ski and sled. We were all very happy.

This is only appropriate if your child has some experience skiing and can take the T-bar by him or herself. For absolute beginners, you’ll need to talk to the ski school (across the street from where the classes meet) to find the right class. My son had a week of ski lessons the previous year and could snow plow his way down a beginning slope and take both a T-bar and chair lift by himself. These drop-in lessons were great for getting back his confidence this year.

Some tips for the Flumserberg Ski School:

– the ski school meets at the T-bars right before you get to the main parking near the Tannenboden gondola (shown above). There is some parking and a little Kasse hut that sells ski passes. Even if there are no parking spots, it’s easy to double park here and quickly get your kid settled before finding a more permanent spot.

– to find a class, simply talk to any of the ski instructors in red outfits, which will suddenly appear about 10 mins before the classes start. They will ask a few questions about your child’s ability and find the right class. You will pay the instructor in cash (35sfr) after the lesson.

– you will need to buy a lift ticket for your child. Kid under 6 still need a pass, even though it’s free. You’ll need proof of age. Ask the teacher if you only need the beginning T-bars (cheaper ticket) or full mountain pass. If you wait until 2pm, you get a discount on the lift pass (16sfr from 2pm). But the Kasse makes you wait until exactly 2pm before selling it, so you’ll have to run the pass back to your child (and tell your instructor beforehand).

– put a card in your child’s pocket with emergency info: their name, your name and your cell phone number. The instructor has blank cards you can fill out.

– arrive about 20 mins beforehand so you have time to buy the lift ticket, get your child dressed, and find your class

– your kid should have poles, there are few places where they have to walk and it makes it easier

– if you take at least once class during the week, your child can participate in the ski race on Friday afternoon. Ask your instructor for details.

– the classes only go if there are at least 4 children, but most days that’s not a problem. I went on a Monday afternoon not during ski holiday, expecting it to be empty but there were over 50 kids there. You can’t reserve a spot for drop-in, but it’s usually not a problem.

– they usually have ski races on Friday afternoons (by the T-bars) for the kids that were in the classes all week. If your kid took lessons at least one day during the week, they can join. Also be aware that instruction doesn’t happen on Friday afternoons since they are all busy with the race.

Magic Carpet

Like many resorts, Flumserberg has free magic carpets and bunny hill for absolute beginners. This is great for 3 year olds that want to try out skis for an hour, but won’t last in a class. There are two magic carpets immediately in front of the Tannenboden gondola, with a short and gradual slope. It’s perfect for beginners of all ages. This is our favorite magic carpet because it’s very close to both the parking lot and restaurant so its easy to take breaks with little kids (or parents) that have little stamina or patience for the learning process.

I thought it was a perfect hill for my 3yr old who had never been on skis. I wasn’t on skis myself. I just walked next to him on the magic carpet, set him straight at the top of the hill, let go and ran next to him until he fell. He loved it! I brought lots of snacks and our sled to switch off to when he got tired of skiing.

One downside is that the magic carpet is a bit of a hike from the T-bars where ski lessons start. So I would often drop my older son at the lessons, then drive 30 seconds up the hill to park near the magic carpet. Yes, I’m lazy but I’m also practical. I noticed that people tend to start leaving in the early afternoon, so spots start opening up after 2pm and I had little trouble finding a parking spot for afternoon skiing.

Snow Garden

Next to the magic carpet is the Snow Garden, where they hold lessons for little kids (I think 3+) that cannot yet use the T-bars on their own. It’s 35sfr for 2 hours and you can just show up and pay at the little booth next to the snow garden. The kids walk around on their skis, go up a little magic carpet and “ski” around cartoon obstacles. It’s not a lot of instruction, think of it more as child care while you do something else.

On the slopes

If your kids are in ski school, then you’ve got the whole day to enjoy the slopes and views. My husband and I snowboard and prefer the fun powder runs slightly off piste from the B7 Leist chair. We also love eat at the Gruebhütte at the bottom of this lift, reservations recommended.

I love that we can see both the spectacular Churfirsten peaks and the Walensee lake from the top of Flumserberg.

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3 comments

  1. Hi Heidi. Glad you are enjoying the blog. Based on my limited experience, I think Flumserberg is the best choice in the area, mostly because the magic carpet is free and easy to access.

    If you just want to put her in a lesson, the snow garden at Flumserberg (or another resort) is a good choice. It's about 35chf, last 2 hours and the instructor makes it easy and fun for little kids (designed for 3-5yo). I'm probably going to do this myself with my 4yr old.

    If you are prepared to do a little work, it's best to start on a “magic carpet” at Flumserberg or elsewhere. Very little beginners can't do T-bars or tow ropes by themselves. A “magic carpet” does all the work for them and it's usually free. This is what I did with my son last year when he was 3.5YO. You don't need skis yourself. You drag your child on to the magic carpet, walk alongside, help your child off the carpet, align them pointing straight down the hill, let go and chase them till they fall down. Repeat. It's a fine place to start so they learn to balance and walk on skis. You'll probably last about an hour or two, not the whole day.

    I'd try to borrow skis from a friend before you commit to a rental. Or try to find secondhand skis. I bought secondhand skis (~10CHF) and boots (~30CHF) for both my boys and it has worked out fine. Rentals provide the best value when you rent for the season. I think they run about 100CHF for the season, maybe a bit less for really little skis.

    I took my 4YO skiing recently at Atzmannig, which has a short disc Ubungslift (practice) (like a T-bar with a disc). You pay 2CHF each time you go up (or 16CHF for the whole day), which makes it an affordable option if you are just learning and will only use it a few times. Your kid rides between your legs up the lift. And then I held his hand on the way down, while I skied next to him. This was hard work. We went up 8 times. It's the next step after the magic carpet, when your kid can balance on skis and can kinda stop.

    Good luck!

  2. Hello!

    Thank you for your blog. I am really enjoying reading it.

    This year, I plan to take my almost four-years old daughter to ski. I don't know how to start it. I don't know how to ski; my husband can but has done for a long time. We don't have any ski equipment. I am thinking to take my daughter for a one day ski to see if she is ready or just let her get some experience. Where should I go? How to start it?

    Thank you in advance.

    Heidi

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