Zermatt Fancy Skiing Weekend
Zermatt is a very fancy place. Fancy in this case meaning expensive and located below Matterhorn. Rich people tend to go skiing there in winter, so your casual visit there felt... odd.
Upon arrival Friday evening you noticed the following: 40% of the people in Zermatt village were Russians in big fur hats, 40% were Brisish Bankers and 19% were probably Swiss; with Kirsten, Mic and yourself made up the other 1%. Zermatt is quite small, and its entire local population serves in tourism. You were grateful to be staying in a shabby old hotel which didn't cost the Earth. It even had a sauna — how luxurious!
Saturday was snowy, but the white weather didn't dampen you spirits for skiing. There was a group of Japanese retirees staying in your hotel, who warned you about the ‘white-out’ outside. 「もんだいないでしょう」(‘it'll be fine’) got your some laughs and a round of applause. Not many people speak Japanese in Europe, you suppose. While walking to the cable car tunnel a young lady asked if you needed a day-pass. Her boyfriend didn't like the swnoy weather apparently, so she sold her ticket for a discount. Bargain.
The skiing was ok. Not fantastic, but ok. You couldn't see much and it was a bit windy, but there were a few good locations where you could leave the piste and career down through the forest in deep snow. Whee! So much fun. You explored the Rothorn area for a few hours before taking the Gornergrat train up to 3090 meters and skiing back down, mostly beside the piste. The weather remained snowy all day.
Later that evening, you switched to the apartment people had rented over the weekend and flopped on the couch. Grég and Bianca rocked up and you all went downstairs into the jacuzzi to relax. Not Grég though — he forgot his swimmers and so stayed upstairs to cook risotto instead. Thanks Grég.
Day two's weather greatly improved with clear, sunny views of big mountains and long glaciers. Unfortunately, this flushed out all the good-weather skiers, who filled the Gornergrat train to maximum capacity. It didn't bother stopping along the way up, and so Kirsten and Mic were left standing at the apartment (it had its own stop). You waved from the train as it passed them.
Zermatt has a lot of yellow (unprepared) slopes, which is great for those who like going off-piste. With a little fresh snow and little fear of face-planting into it, the area provides some exciting skiing. You jumped off the ledge near the train tunnel and descended a >100% slope, traversed between valleys, cut through a pine forest and skied down a rough-as-guts field to meet the rest of the group (you'd previously lost).
Most of Sunday was spent beside the slopes, in search of fluffy snow and exciting forest descents (not always coinciding). You got off lucky, avoiding any deep damage to your skis, unlike Mic who hit some rocks and had to perform emergency ski repairs with his Swiss knife (mandatory equipment). Fun day. Good weekend in fancy Zermatt.
The snow conditions for skitouring hadn't been so wonderful this year on weekends. If you were able to skip work during the week, or if unemployed (damn Piotr and his 27 tours), it was possible to squeeze in a few good tours. This year's last skitour was up Pazolastock with Stefan and Meike.
Stefan gave you a lift in his new car, in which it was a pleasure to be chauffeured. His last car had been totalled after proving his breaks were better than car behind's. From Andermatt you took the train to Oberlap Pass, stuck on your furs and got to touring.
2044 up to 2577 meters was a steady ascent up well-travelled paths. There was little chance of losing your way: it was basically a highway up the hill. The clouds hung low, revealing nothing of the potentially impressive view surrounding you. Pfft... Rude.
Near the top along a very shifty section of mountain you bumped into Florian, who recognised you (surely a complement), snowshoe hiking with his lady-friend. Switzerland is a small place, where you bump into people on every mountain. One hundred meters higher you broke through the clouds to meet a panoramic view of 3000+ meter-high mountains poking through a sea of white. Stefan cracked out his GoPro on a selfie-stick. You laughed... for now.
As a white Australian, you should be more aware of sunburn. It was so bright up top at 2740 meters you were even squinting behind your sunglasses. Your light smearing of sun cream would later prove poor judgement. After a snack break some clouds rolled over the ridge along which you planned to descend. Through the mist you found a plausible track between the rocks over the edge and down the slope.
The snow was intermittently soft and icy, and the transitions were unpredictable. This led to several stumbles and much snow entering pants. All the way down to the road below you battled the Bruckharsh (crusty top layer) while admiring the view. The last part down the prepared slopes was much easier — easy to the point of boredom. It must have been the flattest skiing slope you had ever been down, and yet people still managed to crash. One old bloke got himself stuck in a safety net between slope tiers. On-piste skiing is not for you.
Wrocław Welding Workshop
Work management recently pulled their heads out of their arses (for some fresh air) and permitted Engineers to meet and discuss fixing broken tools. A two-day meeting was arranged in Wrocław Poland and half the world was invited. Perhaps this signalled the end of management preaching vague memoranda, and the beginning of competent people making informed decisions together. Ha! As if...
The meeting itself was moderately interesting. The Engineers in attendance, each representing their respective regions, did a good job fulfilling their country's clichés. The Germans we're bossy, the Indian just agreed to everything, the Canadian (Polish) was entirely focussed on being polite, and the French didn't bother showing up.
That evening you all went out for dinner in the main square in Wrocław. It was the start of a good joke when the Austrian, German and Polish men walked into the bar, and proceeded to debate Europen war politics. The Canadian was politely agreeable; he later admitted he couldn't actually hear anything properly, and was agreeing in principle.
For all the good-will and agreement, nothing came of the meeting. Management restructured and restratagised again ensuring nothing will ever change — their heads reinserted from whence they came. Nice hotel though.