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Skating in Fuldera

If it weren't for the train-chaos on Friday, you would have been awoken by the gently sunbeams shining through your mountain valley hotel window. You got there a bit late, but had a blast anyway doing some cross country skating in Fuldera. Also, your office had an audit and you were grilled for seven hours with questions.

EN 15085 Audit

Once every three years your office is audited to maintain its EN 15085 CL4 certification. Since finishing your welding course you were named responsable for this year's proceedings and was, as such, quizzed by a bloke from Germany with a big beard who liked talking. A lot. For seven hours.

EN 15085 Railway Welding
EN 15085 Railway Welding

Somehow he got the idea that you work in a design office, so logically decided to only ask you production-related questions. Grr... The problem wasn't really what he was asking, rather how; he'd talk and talk about a certain subject for ten minutes and then spontaneously stop, stare and wait for an answer to an implied question. It was hard enough doing it in German, let alone dealing with his utter lack of clear questioning. Even your college - a man of fifteen years experience doing these audits - couldn't follow the beardy bloke's train of thought. It was harsh.

Seven hours later he passed the audit and signed you off as a CL4 deputy. He then admitted he'd probed your production knowledge knowing it wasn't relevant, just wanting to demonstrate you should understand everything just in case. God damn it... Next audit in one month in Derby UK.

Fuldera Skating

A compromise was met with Sandra and Steffen for weekend skiing plans: you decided to leave for the far-away mountains Friday night, rather than close mountains Saturday morning. Fair enough. Now you just need to catch a train from Winterthur to Zürich and...

This is an announcement from the SBB: all train services to Zürich are cancelled. The reason is a personnel accident (aka: suicide). Effected are the S2, S7, S8, S12...

You felt like killing the inconsiderate bastard if he weren't dead already. He effectively blocked 20,000 people getting home on a Friday night. Since this would have been the last connection of the day through the Ofenpass, your plans were pretty screwed. You gave up, moaned down the phone for a while, then went via Bülach where the connecting train was mob-rushed by passengers. The driver was getting audibly irritated when the passengers wouldn't let the doors close:

Please let the doors close. We can't leave unless you move. Blocking this train doesn't help anyone. The next train is in three minutes. GET OFF!

The next morning you headed towards Landquart, Zernes and finally on to Fuldera. The trip took a little under four hours and was nice and relaxing. It was just a shame not to have a sleep-in, to wake up in the hills and to be served breakfast. At least it was a sunny day. The bus ride over the Ofenpass made you a little queasy - the driver obviously knew the road and took corners kinda tight - but the views through the National Park were amazing!

Fuldera loipe, day one
Fuldera loipe, day one

Meike met you on the bus in Fuldera. From the ski rental at the bottom of the hill you grabbed some gear and started skiing back up towards the hotel. The loipe (cross country skiing track) was clean and newly prepared, and there weren't so many people there. The conditions really were perfect, if not perhaps a little too warm. The sun was blasting down yet the air was chilly enough to keep the snow together. Skiing uphill sure made you warm up fast; it was a good decision to wear only a tshirt.

Cross country skating is tricky. The skis have almost no edges so the technique is totally different to downhill. To corner you have to step each ski in turn without crossing them, while keeping your long poles clear. Maintaining speed needs quite some coordination due to the ever-present risk of jamming your pole tips in the snow where you feet want to go. Fun once you're going but you usually come out bruised.

Taking a break on the hotel balcony
Taking a break on the hotel balcony

Day one was a few loops of the loipe and a fair number of stacks onto your face and backside. There was one particularly windey, steep slope where you lost control, danced about trying to stay upright and eventually landed it backwards to save gaining more speed. Upon reenacting this stunt in front of he others you managed to stack it again, not on purpose. They commended the accuracy of the replay.

Val Müstair skiing dude
Val Müstair skiing dude

Dinner in the nearby (bigger) hotel was nice: homemade pasta with mushrooms, during which Sandra had two glasses of wine and got giggly. Steffen was still feeling under the weather so was happy to retire back to your hotel for a game of Dopplekopf (card game) before bed. Your hotel was, as described, quaint. The rooms had showers directly in the rooms, and the toilet was in the hallway. The hotel cat meowed a lot and the dog was huge and dirty - amusing for some, annoying for others. The breakfast was the highlight with freshly baked bread, local cheese and homemade burchermusli. If you hadn't been kicked out at 10am for the owner to take his day off you'd have stayed longer. However, the sunny Sunday called.

Morning view from the hotel window
Morning view from the hotel window

For day two, you set out to do the complete length of the loipe up the valley and back. The conditions were better than the day before, being freshly flattened and less wet. The hill got steadily steeper the further you went up. It was a compensation that your skating technique was getting less-bad - you stopped putting your poles in front of your skis - so progress was steady. That morning's coffee probably didn't hurt either. The last part was a real bitch to get up but satisfying to beat, and equally tricky to come back down. The Sochi Olympics made it look so much easier...

Snowball collage
Snowball collage

Everyone met up in the afternoon at the ski hire café for apfelschrole (bubbly apple juice) and to sit in the sun to read. You eventually motivated everyone to try remaking the snowball photo montage Meike saw at the Zürich 14 exhibition a few months ago. Using your fancy 85mm f1.4 Zeiss lens on the 5DmkIII body in strong sunlight made it easy to capture everyone's silly face when the snowballs hit. It was an amusing exercise, but Meike got hit so hard she got a headache for the rest of the day.