The small mountain village of Murren is in the Bernese Oberland, home to some of the oldest established ski resorts in Switzerland. It is part of the Jungfrau Ski Region sharing the lift system and pistes of Wengen and Grindelwald, and its highest skiing point is on the summit of the Schilthorn mountain at 2970 meters. There are four connected ski areas above the village; Schiltgrat (the biggest), Maulerhubel, and Allmendhubel. Big, the highest, is immediately below the Schilthorn.
Set at an altitude of 1,638 meters Murren is one of the highest and most impressively sited villages in Switzerland, accessed principally by cable car from Stechelberg at the end of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Precariously cliff-hanging on a mountain shelf it offers unrivaled views over the Jungfrau massif. It is a remarkably pretty, car-free cluster of old wooden chalets. Murren owes its prominence as one of the world’s most ski resorts in large part to the British who first ‘colonized’ it, and popularized it in the early 20th. Effectively it is the alma mater of downhill ski racing, a sport that was effectively founded and promoted by the writer and alpinist Sir Arnold Lunn.
It is best suited to keen skiers with a sense of tradition, drawn by its reputation as one of the cradles of Alpine skiing. It is unlikely to appeal to skiers looking for wild après-ski and a riotous nightlife.
Murren’s ski area provides 54km of piste and 12 lifts.
The wider Jungfrau region, providing access to the slopes across the Lauterbrunnen Valley, offers a total of 213km and 44 lifts. The terrain is categorized by difficulty as follows: 33% blue (novice), 49% red (intermediate), and 18% black (advanced).
Experts should be satisfactorily challenged by the off-piste potential from Schiltgrat and Birg, and there are tough ungroomed mogul runs in the same area. Then there’s the notorious narrow ‘Kanonenrohr’ (gun barrel or cannon roar) below the Engetal lifts, often the scene of prone and winded skiers starring dizzily at the sky. It is best approached tentatively and with maximum awareness of other skiers and boarders in close proximity.
Intermediates are better served in Wengen, where there are reassuringly wide cruising runs.
There are nursery slopes at Allmendhubel, but absolute beginners might be advised to try elsewhere.
Why Go There?
The challenge: The run down from the Schilthorn, more than 1300 meters vertical of relentlessly jaw-dropping scenery and contrasting terrain is the reason many skiers of all standards swear by Murren and return year after year. It is also in the main part of the course of The Inferno, the world’s oldest, longest, and largest amateur ski race with up to 1900 participants leaving the starter’s tent at 12-second intervals. Depending on the snow conditions it can be any length from 10 to 17 km. It is a merciless succession of rock-lined gun barrels (as in the Kanonenrohr), 180-degree bends, and lung-bursting climbs. You’d have to be insane to do it, a fact evidenced by the number of racers dressed as gorillas and bananas.
Proximity: Murren is eminently walkable – roughly 1km from end to end – and most of the mountain is within easy reach, meaning that skiers can easily return to the village to meet non-skiing friends and family for lunch.