The Sarine (French) / Saane (German) river is the unofficial linguistic border between Switzerland's French and German speaking regions. Château d'Oex is in French-speaking Switzerland, in the canton of Vaud. Gstaad is in the German-speaking part of the canton of Bern. Only 16 kilometers between them. There are a couple of well-marked paths between the two places, and the trip is easily done in 3-4 hours. The trail runs more or less parallel to the Sarine river, the MOB railway, and the main road.
Château d'Oex is in French-speaking Switzerland, in the canton of Vaud. Gstaad is in the German-speaking part of the canton of Bern. Only 16 kilometers between them. There are a couple of well-marked paths between the two places, and the trip is easily done in 3-4 hours. The trail runs more or less parallel to the Sarine (the French name) / Saane (German name) river, the MOB railway, and the main road.
The MOB train is very handy if you want to hike from one destination to the other and return by train.
Skiing in the Gstaad (and surrounding Saanenland) areas is very nice in good snow years.
The rolling cow pastures of summer are run as ski hills in winter, and provide very nice all-round family skiing. A little bit (but not a lot!!) of adventure for those who are expert skiers and mostly great beginner to intermediate slopes with long runs.
The regional lift pass (recommended) covers 69 lifts, and over 250km of maintained pistes/trails. The lifts and equipment in this area are in great shape and of very modern standards.
We come here about once per ski season (if the snow is good) to ski with friends. We usually come either for the day (from Chamonix) or weekend and stay with friends.
Check out Schoenried (runs from part way up the Hornflue, for example), Gsteig (actually just a beginners hill here), Gstaad (Wispile, Wasserngrat and Eggli), as well as the very tall Glacier 3000 area between Gstaad and Les Diablerets (a separate ski area) which even has summer skiing due to it's altitude of over 3000 meters (10,000 feet)
In the regional pass the following three are within Gstaad. First, the relatively low Eggli (5,494 feet) which also connects to Videmanette and the towns of Saanen and Rougemont. It is a great beginner area but can suffer from lack of snow in warm years.
The Wasserngrat (6,365 feet) and the Wispile (6,397 feet) are two other totally separated areas in Gstaad.
The Wasserngrat is rated the most challenging of these three areas. The Wasserngrat is an area for advanced skiers and is not recommended for beginners (it has just 2 lifts). Rarely has any lift lines.
The largest area on the regional ski pass (I am told it is the largest, and I skied there and it was wonderful) is near St Stephan/Saanenmoser and Zweisimmen where lifts go up Hornberg.
Lift openings/closures as well as a listing of the towns they serve etc. are available on the official Gstaad ski site http://www.skigstaad.ch .
Other general information ski web sites on Gstaad listed below.
Equipment: Skis or snowboard (rentals available everywhere) and warm clothes!!
At the top of nearly every lift are restaurants serving food and hot mulled wine and other treats to keep you going on those cold winter days.