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Corss Country Skitour and Pizolsattel

It sounded like a good idea to cross country ski up Flumserberg. It also sounded like a good idea to skate back down a black slope. Snowshoe hiking up Pizolsattel was more successful.

Cross-country Skitour

Of late Charles had taken to working a four-day week. For most of 2014 both Charles and yourself packed in significant overtime hours for your Queensland project to good results, but now you both had over-booked timesheets. After Bastian (project engineer) and Stefan (designer) joined the company and relieved you of the bulk of your respective tasks — along with jokes they were your slaves — you could wind back a bit. Hence the suggestion: Friday cross country skiing up Flumserebrg. Sure, why not.

The suggestion was to skate up the 400m vertical meters from Tannenboden to Alp Fursch and ski back down. Cross country skiing is usually long distance and not mountain climbing, but the idea sounded interesting. After crossing the blue runs from Tannenboden toward the west you found the trail heading up through the forest. It was an official skating trail, just a lot steeper that you were used to. Needles to say, it was tough.

Alp Fursch
Alp Fursch

At Alp Fursch you had a drink break and a snack in the sun. It was a particularly sunny day and the visibility was great. That said, the snow was not going to last very long if the weather stayed that way. You discussed how best to ski back down, not wanting to take the same way you came up since it was too steep and narrow. You ended up just taking whichever piste looked easiest. Since there were quite a few vertical meters to cover along the way things got pretty fast. You only landed it hard once — not bad considering.

From Prodalp there were two options: 1. take the long way down a red run, or 2. take the direct path down the #11 black slope. "Black?" Charles suggested. "Sure, why not" you replied. Initially it worked surprisingly well, skiing down a black run on skis with no edges. You could brake using a snow-plow position and turn into a wobbly parallel slide. For the first 50m this worked a treat, until it got steeper... faster... and then turned to solid ice. You began accelerating down the ice sheet sliding on your bum, side, front, hands, and a mix of all of the above. Wherever your skis were at this point they were spraying up a lot of snow into your face, covering your sunglasses and freezing your head. You caught glimpses of marker poles whoosh past, and you really hoped you would slow down before colliding with one. After sliding about fifty horizontal and vertical meters — it was a really steep slope — you came to rest in a tangle of skis on some bumpy snow.

Neuralga aside, nothing seemed awry so you just lay there tangled in your skis catching your breath. You unclipped your skis, regretting it immediately as you watched them shoot down the slope, cross three loipe and crash into a tree in the distance. Cross country skis don't have breaks... Could have thought of that earlier. You still had one pole — the other was nowhere to be seen, and must have stayed at the top. Damn it...

Charles rescuing your second skiing pole
Charles rescuing your second skiing pole

The climb back up was amusing to say the least. Your skating shoes were neither suitable for snow trekking nor ice climbing, and yet there didn't seem to be much choice in the matter. You clambered up the slope until the ice got too slippery, then went back down and tried on the other side in the softer, deeper snow. Climbing on all fours, you made it to the top only to see your pole on the other side. The slope was too slippery to cross and your didn't fancy another slide. Luckily, Charles had made it up and grabbed it for you.

Your Lovely Lady's response to your message "Learnt an important lesson: don't ski down black slope on cross country skis; no body died, and still have all equipment" was something along the lines of "I'm somehow expecting a: but I'll be in the hospital for the next two weeks". Your state was best described as bruised and amused.

Crepé × 3, Rum × 4 & Pizolsattel × 2790 m

You decided you wanted crepé for breakfast. French-style crepé with beer – pretty much the only one you can make – usually takes a while and you always make too many. Leftovers usually disappear by lunchtime, but even by late afternoon there were still some left. It really would help to curb your enthusiasm a bit.

In the evening you went swimming with Roman and Guillaume, the latter a rather enthusiastic swimmer. His warm-up was more than you usually swim in an entire session. At least your 1 m springboard diving is prettier than his.

After swimming you went to see Flora & Guillaume's new apartment. Somehow they had a similar weekend-food idea and decided to try out their new crepé hotplate for dinner. Having crepé three times in one day was way past overkill, but the though that more awaited you at home, inevitably becoming breakfast for a second time, was daunting. His fancy collection of Caribic rums helped take you mind off it. Of the four, one tasted like whisky and another like liquid vanilla!

Hiking up towards lake one
Hiking up towards lake one

Due to snowfall and high wind, this weekend's adventure needed to be high altitude and under 30° inclination. The decision was made pretty late Saturday night, following the fourth rum shot so things were jolly. Sunday morning the hikers heavy, hazy heads were compounded by the whiteout cloud cover blanketing Wangs (an actual place name). At the upper edge of the clouds the glare was so intense you couldn't open your eyes. You broke through the clouds at Gaffia and were thankful you had sunglasses.

The hike went from Pizolhütte up to Wildsee of the Five-lake Hike, and over the Pizol Glacier up to Pizolsattel. When the wind blew you froze, and when the wind settled you baked in the sun. Matthieu did his usual trick of sprinting ahead while making it look easy (the bastard) while Guillaume and Roman took things at an easy pace (bad knees or something). The path was well trodden and easy to follow with little risk. Even the steep, diagonal descent to the lake was manageable; it was completely frozen over and covered in snow.

Snack break Windy peak First up Pizolsattel
Snack break, windy peak, first up and Pizolsattel

You took the lead on the second half up the glacier. Your main focus was to tread on the same place the last person had, giving a firm step. The wind was doing a good job of covering the path with triebschnee (blown-snow). After staring at the snow for about 45 minutes you were in an almost meditative state — a single minded determination with a steady step—step pace. The path steepened and you had no choice but to pack your poles out to get enough grip. The top was a complete white-out... then an amazing view... then white-out. Clearly the weather couldn't make up its mind, apart from being windy.

Sliding down Walking down Snow posing Snow posing
Sliding down, walking down and snow posing

The slope back down was far too steep to walk. Everyone ended up on their bums, wheather the wanted to or not, sliding down the first hundred meters through 20 cm of new powder snow. What started as an almost serious expedition turned into a big giggle fest. The slippery slide was followed by some sexy half-naked man posing and kinda-gay snowball fight. To finish it off, you all rolled into Bad Ragaz for a dip in the hot/cold baths.