Mürren is crucial in British winter sports history. In 1910, it became the first resort to let in package holidaymakers when Sir Henry Lunn convinced the authorities to run the railway during the winter months. His son, Sir Arnold, started the first ever slalom race in 1922. After six years, he and 16 of his friends climbed on skins to the top of the Schilthorn (2,970m) and set off for Lauterbrunnen (800m), taking with them their own line through 14.9km of powder snow. This has been the first 'Inferno' race. The modern variation, an all-comers' competition having uphill and downhillsections, attracts 1,800 entries, leaving at 12-second intervals.
Though Mürren has the best snow in the Jungfrau area, its pistes are small-scale and not defined. The Schilthorn is the main event, accessed by two cable-cars and familiar to all Bond fans as Piz Gloria in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. All because it is not easily raided, it makes an perfect villain's hideaway, but as a ski mountain it has serious limitations. The most important is the black factor: the starting point is severely steep and quite bumpy if it has not been groomed, while the Kanonenrohr (gun barrel), the sole route back to Mürren, is rocky and readily closed with poor snow conditions, which means that everyone has to download from the mid-station. Add in the wind element, which frequently closesthe cable-cars, and the odds on skiing the Schilthorn on any given day are not that great.
The red and blue runs are your other options from the Allmendhubel, reached by train and draglift from the village center, to Winteregg, and the enjoyably open slopes on the Schiltgrat, mulct for a modest cruise before lunch but not precisely the stuff of day-long challenge. When the snow does fall, the powder shots are magnificent, with runs off the back of Schilthorn, into the Blumental and down across the forest to Gimmelwald.
Mürren has first-rate mountain huts, all of them serving Swiss specialities - air-dried meat, rosti and sausages. As its name points out, the Sonnenberg is a favorite with sun-seekers, but the Suppenalp is more ambient. Greatest of all for food and friendliness is Pension Gimmelwald located at the Stechelberg mid-station.
© 2012 Athena Goodlight
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