Sunday, 29 September 2013

SWISS EPIC ~ a new MTB race

SWISS EPIC is the new 6-day mountain bike stage race for teams of two. Participants will enjoy a week-long mountain bike challenge on Switzerland’s most beautiful mountain trails fully embracing the experience and flow of riding without needing to arrange baggage transport, meals and accommodations. It’s all taken care of.
 
DATES: the event will take place annually in September, during Switzerland’s warm and breath taking golden autumn. Premiere: 15th to 20th September 2014
 

ROUTE: the racecourse is predominately situated on fluid, diverse and technical single trails and country roads in the Swiss Alps. On the trails participants will experience the breath taking views and picture perfect panoramas for which Switzerland is renowned.
 
Switzerland’s Touristic highlights set the scene in which the country’s natural beauty and cultural diversity play centre stage.
 

The route of the SWISS EPIC race encompasses some 400 kms and 15,000 vertical meters of trail for participants to conquer. Downhill riders or those who would prefer a shorter track can select the SWISS EPIC FLOW race of 300 kms and 8,000 meters of altitude.
 
The climbs are partially bypassed thanks to a shuttle service that transports both bikes and bikers.
 
The Valais will host the race. With Verbier, Leukerbad, Grächen, and Zermatt among the destinations, some of Switzerland’s most beautiful regions are included in the SWISS EPIC.
 

 PARTICIPATION is open to pro-athletes as well as ambitious amateurs over the age of 18. Three different all-inclusive packages are available to participants: SWISS EPIC Heaven, SWISS EPIC Comfort, and SWISS EPIC Camper, which differ in the comfort of the accommodations and food. Avid mountain bike enthusiasts can enrol online as early as 13th October 2013 at 1.10pm for the chance to win a team starting-place. 
 
The first draw of the lottery will be on 1st November 2013. The number of places is limited to 300 teams.
 
You will note the similarity of the route with our well-established OTP Valais Tour (http://otp.co.uk/viewer/mountain-biking/valais-tour) so if you fancy a great point-to-point MTB week but maybe not up for the SWISS EPIC, contact us and we can arrange everything for you!
 

 Info: the Valais is in the south west of Switzerland and with easy connections to all Swiss airports. OTP offers the Valais Tour (point-to-point), Tour de Chablais (point-to-point) and week and short break MTB holidays based in Zermatt, Grindelwald and Lugano.
 
Our MTB holidays are always guided (maximum 6 riders per guide) and transfers on Swiss Travel System are included (as well as luggage transfers on the OTP Valais Tour and Tour de Chablais).
 
Have a look at www.mountainbiking.uk.com to choose the best holiday for you.
 
See you soon and happy trails!
 


Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Eiger Ultra Trail - a brief history - registration open 4th October 2013

The Eiger Ultra Trail - the race along the foothills of the Eiger (18th to 20th July 2014)

The Eiger 3970m and its North Face fascinate climbers and trail runners likewise. In 1858 the local mountain guides Christian Almer and Peter Bohren together with their client Charles Barrington were the first to reach the summit. The Eiger Northface, the last of the big walls in the Alps, was conquered in 1938 by Anderl Heckmair and Ludwig Vörg as well as Heinrich Harrer und Fritz Kasparekt in a four day ascent.


In August 2008 Ueli Steck burst all imaginable boundaries with his solo Speed Record attempt on the North Face in no more than 2 hours and 47 minutes.

20th July 2013 was the start of the 1st Eiger Ultra Trail in Grindelwald. 3 trails with a total of 168 kms and over 10'500m in height awaited 1,155 trail runners from 27 countries. All trails, distances and the altitudes were checked and guaranteed.

Trail E16 - The Pleasure Trail


The trail E16 is suitable for all new comers to trail running or for all those just running for "pleasure"! The most strenuous section is reached at Lauchbühl at 1400m. From here onwards the trail leads over alternating sections via Bort and Nodhalten to Holewang and ends with a downhill in Grindelwald.

Trail E51 - The Panorama Trail


Although rightly named as the E51 Panorama Trail the first ascent towards the Grosse Scheidegg shouldn’t be underestimated. The spectacular views however, along the sections to Oberläger via First and Bachalpsee and the panoramic views from the Faulhorn summit at 2680m or the views to the horizon as the runner makes his way towards the Schynige Platte, will compensate for all the effort and make it an unforgettable experience.
 
Trail E101 - The Ultra Trail


Grindelwald celebrates the Eiger Ultra Trail and with it the first Ultra Trail in the Bernese Oberland. The race with the staging locationsGrosse Scheidegg, First, the Faulhorn Mountain Guest House, Schynige Platte, Wengen, Männlichen, Kleine Scheidegg and the traverse along the base of the Eiger North Face is not only spectacular but also a fantastic and unforgettable alpine experience.
 
The trail E101 with 101kms and 6,700m in height will be a challenge to all competitors.
 
The Mountain Prize, moreover, will be awarded to the first competitor to reach the Faulhorn at 2680m and makes this event especially attractive. Ueli Steck, speed alpinist and event ambassador is convinced "It's going to be a personal challenge for everybody, no matter how fast, how steep or how high. Important is that that you keep on the move! "
 
If you fancy your chances, registration will open 4th October 2013 at 10am and we can provide accommodation for you in Grindelwald at www.otp.co.uk
 
Registration is available at http://www.eigerultratrail.ch/en/

Friday, 20 September 2013

Glacier Express with SwissPasses.com


Swiss trains are known for being among the fastest, and most efficient trains in the world. While this holds true for most of them, certain lines around Switzerland are purpose built, to enjoy a slow, relaxing, and scenic journey through the country. These trains are known as the 'Scenic Routes' and the 15 or so train journeys provide breathtaking panoramic views of many beautiful parts of Switzerland, whilst also taking you to your next destination in comfort and pleasure.

One of our most popular excursions is the Glacier Express. This train will take you from St. Moritz to Zermatt (or the reverse!). A day of travel through unspoilt mountain countryside, deep gorges and lovely valleys, through 91 tunnels and over 291 magnificent bridges. You can also choose to book a quality 3 course lunch on board for the trip.

The Glacier Express train links in with the MGB (Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn). The MGB is a metre gauge railway in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland. Its 44 kilometre long line links the communities of the Goms Valley, Brig and Visp in the Rhone Valley with Täsch and the car free holiday resort of Zermatt in the Mattertal. The MGB also forms part of the much travelled and admired route of the Glacier Express between St. Moritz and Zermatt. The BVZ (Brig-Visp-Zermatt Bahn) as it was known then, was first opened in 1891, when footfall to the resort of Zermatt demanded it. In 2003 the BVZ was merged with the FO (Furka-Oberalp-Bahn) to form the Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn (MGB) - as it is still known today..


In the roaring 1920s, and because of adventurous reports from alpine enthusiasts, the travel-keen upper-class from all four corners of the world at long last discovered the rustic charms of the Swiss Alps; previously remote mountain villages such as Zermatt and St.Moritz were transformed into chic health resorts. The three railway companies of that period (VZ – later BVZ, RhB and FO) respectively successfully took advantage of the tourism potential at hand with the opening of the route between the Valais and Graubünden in 1926: the introduction of the through coaches Brig – Chur and Brig – St.Moritz exclusively in summer was met with a lot of interest amongst the travelling public. By the way, it was to take more than 50 years before the trains were able to also cross the impassable Furka alpine route in winter.June 25, 1930 – an historical date after the opening of the connection Visp – Brig, the Glacier Express ran for the very first time from Zermatt to St.Moritz. To cater for travellers – one travelled in elegant salon coaches – and converted passenger coaches from 1st to 3rd class – dining cars were introduced on the route between St.Moritz and Disentis.



With the turmoil of the Second World War, express traffic was withdrawn from 1943 onwards to be reintroduced with slight changes in 1948 – in particular, without an elegant salon coach but with a dining car to the Oberalp pass. The Glacier Express also benefited from technological advancement during the 1950s and 1960s: faster engines produced shorter travelling times even for the "world’s slowest fast train", and comfortable coaches as well as the reintroduction of the dining cars to Andermatt inexorably increased the attraction of the Glacier Express.

Until 1982 the Glacier Express only ran in summer because the extended Furka alpine route was not safe in winter. Construction work on the Furka tunnel between Oberwald and Realp began in 1973 and service could finally start through the tunnel on 26 June 1982: the Glacier Express now runs all year round (except for a break from late October to mid-December).

High quality tourism product


Thanks to modern technology and focused marketing efforts the Glacier Express grew into an unmistakeable top-notch Swiss tourism product in the 1980s and 1990s: there has been continual growing worldwide demand on the unique Swiss Alpine train. Not just huge investments in infrastructure contributed to this – e.g. modern coaches such as air-conditioned panorama coaches – but also exquisite services such as perfect catering services, clever special trips and a wide range of packages offered at an international level in the travel market.

Trips on the Glacier Express & all other classic rail journeys throughout Switzerland can be found on SwissPasses.com. If you're considering staying out a while in Zermatt at the end of your Glacier Express tour, we have some great apartments and hotels available this coming winter season over at OTP Winter Holidays. Hope to see you soon! :)

 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Fresh Powder & Hot Test Skis in Zermatt!

New this season, OTP is offering skiers a chance to try out the latest ski models in Zermatt, and get an early start to the season - and it has just snowed 30cm up top too!

The first ski testing will take place on the weekend of 5th-6th October, followed by the weekends of 12th-13th and 19th-20th October. As of 26th October, the test centre will be open every day until and including Sunday 1st December 2013 and available at www.otp.co.uk/viewer/special-offers/ski-testing


At the test centre on Trockener Steg, skis are adjusted to your personal ski boots in a matter of seconds. Ski fans can try out the latest models manufactured by the following 13 companies: Atomic, Blizzard, Dynastar, Elan, Fischer, Head, K2, Movement, Nordica, Rossignol, Salomon, Scott and Völkl. Don’t forget: The skiing season across the border in Italy (Cervinia/Valtournenche) will open on 1st November 2013, which is also the date when the two ski regions in Switzerland (Zermatt) and Italy will be linked up.

You can try as many skis as you like - even change them each run if you wish! The comfortable and fast 6-person chairlift speeds you to the fresh powder.


For information, OTP offers skiing in Zermatt 365 days a year. The village is car-free, so if driving down you leave your car in Tasch (just below the resort) and take the special shuttle train which leaves every 20 minutes during the day.

Zermatt: skiing and snowboarding the whole year round, with 365 days of snow – you can only find this in Zermatt. As the highest altitude, largest and most efficiently developed snow sport location in the Alps, Zermatt offers an absolute snow guarantee. In winter, 360kms of piste attracts skiers of all levels. Unlimited skiing and snowboarding between Switzerland and Italy – no other destination can offer this. And in the summer? Enjoy the 21kms of pistes on the Zermatt Theodul Glacier. Carve and relax alongside national ski teams from the whole of Europe with the Matterhorn always in sight.


Accommodation: we have apartments from 2 to 8-persons and hotels of 2 to 5-star grading.

Travel: We include cross-Channel with car if you would like to self-drive, train travel or Zermatt is easily accessible from Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich airports. We include Swiss Travel System transfers from all Swiss airports and can help you find the best flights too.

The new Ski Test weekends are now available at http://otp.co.uk/viewer/special-offers/ski-testing/

See you soon!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

DH tracks in Crans Montana


The DH Safari we offer is a fantastic holiday for Downhill Riders with 6 different downhill courses in 6 days in the Rhône Valley and mountains. We spent the day over at one of those resorts to take the time to film one of the easier routes to give you an idea of that might be install for you.

Crans Montana has a few different tracks all with differing challengers.  The track in the video is the red route which is long, fast and flowing while also being pretty flat. There is also another 2 black courses that cross each other all the way down. They offer a steeper, more technical challenge but along with that bring slower speeds. Just at the base of the bike friendly lift station is a North Shore area and bike park, this offers differing levels of height and narrow wooded sections and also a differing level of sized drops and offer something for everyone. The black courses are more like the track we have in Zermatt, therefore we choose to spend our time on the flowing track on the Red course.

As you can see from the video the track is under constant maintenance from the guys over in Crans and we think this is great! The technical course we have in Zermatt, while being equally as challenging and enjoyable, is pretty much left to its own devices and evolves and constantly changes, offering sometimes a surprising first run of the day! In contrast, it’s nice to turn up to course and be able to let go on the first descent and know that every corner, obstacle, transition and bump are exactly how they should be.

This red route is that is makes a great starting place for less experiences DH riders because of this constant attention. It offers a nice fast and predicable ride and has some open flowing sections with a couple of mini obstacles and then to mix it up a little is a few tighter tree sections to prepare you for the move onto the tougher black routes.


Check out the full DH package we offer at http://www.otp.co.uk

Hope to ride with you guys soon!!

Monday, 9 September 2013

MTB - new feature on the Zermatt DH course

DH riders are in for a new treat! The Sunnegga lift now provides special watches which show riders how fast they come down the DH course.


The watches can be obtained free of charge form the Sunnegga lift base station, however, only a limited number of watches are available.

Riders normally pay extra for the transport of bikes. CHF10 per day is added to the normal lift ticket price. When travelling with OTP this is reduced to CHF5 for the whole day - or FREE with a day pass.

Getting bikes onto the funicular is easy – the first compartment is reserved for bikes and is at the lowest level (no steps). At the top you are at the correct level to roll to the start of the DH course. 

Underground watches ~ how they work: 7 sensors are buried under the DH course from Sunnegga to Zermatt. On the special watches, they show DH riders how much time needed for each individual section.

Zermatt DH Holidays are offered at www.otp.co.uk and the Zermatt DH course is also on our DH Safari holidays.

See you soon!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

MTB exploring the Jungfrau region with Matt & Jeff - the new Jungfrau Tour

This week both Jeff and Matt (MTB guide) were invited over to Grindelwald, Switzerland in the famous Jungfrau region, nestling at the base of the Eiger.

Matt was exploring the region for the MTB trails and Jeff was arranging the logistics for this area.
Matt went up the Grindelwald First gondola and decided that it would be good to try out the Grindelwald Flyer before even getting on his bike! This is a zip wire fun activity with 4 parallel zip wires so you can race each other. Meanwhile, I was in my first meeting...

Matt continued up and hunted down and tracked the amazing MTB trails available up there before stopping for a delicious lunch in a cute mountain restaurant hidden in the trees up the mountain but with a stunning view over the village and Eiger. Meanwhile I was in my second meeting...

Matt then descended to the village and to Grindelwald Grund and was having such a good day decided to ride up to Kleine Scheidegg (at the base of the Jungfrau), rather than take the convenient little cog train!
After a while exploring the huge range of trails there (I was now in my third meeting...) he nailed the stunning technical trails down to Lauterbrunnen, below Wengen, before returning to Grindelwald, to meet up with me (after my fourth meeting)!

A very successful day continued the next day to experience the famous Jungfraujoch, with the highest train station in Europe (3450m) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Whilst his days were obviously more enjoyable than mine, as a team we are now putting together a great new MTB holiday to add to our others - The Jungfrau Tour - it will be online on our site www.otp.co.uk soon.

We will be uploading some pictures from the trip on our Facebook site (www.facebook.com/OTPHolidays) so you can see some of the great area we have added.

For information: Grindelwald is part of the Jungfrau region and above Interlaken in the centre of Switzerland. Really easy access from Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich airports by train right into the village. Bike rental is available in the village and there is a wide range of accommodation available from self-catered apartments, a youth hostel and 2 to 5-star hotels.

See you there soon with OTP!