For Meike's birthday her friends gave her a weekend in an igloo village. The idea sounded quite cool actually, so Dani and Ulf flew in for the weekend - just in time before moving to Thailand - and six of you headed towards Davos.
The group gathered at the top ski lift station, put on snow shoes and walked down behind the mountain as the last of the skiers headed off. One beardy-dreadlock guide who seemed in charge had his dog Nema along for the walk, who was far more excited about walking in the snow than anyone else. The advertised "20 minute" hike to the village was an exaggeration: it was only half a kilometer down from the lift station, and could have been done in regular shoes.
The igloo village didn't look especially dramatic from outside. There was a sign affront some heaped snow with an opening covered by a brown swiss army blanket. Behind a tunnel led through to a big room, a high internal dome of about eight meters diameter. The walls were lined with ice sculptures and snow art, and on one side the bar was built of clear ice bricks (made in a vacuum to remove air bubbles).
The dreadlocks guide welcomed everyone to the village with a glühwein from the bar (warm spiced red wine) and told the story of how the village came to be. In his own cool-snowboarder hippie way he regaled the tale of Adrian Günter, the ski instructor who wanted the first powder run of the day and so made himself an igloo for the night. When his skiing mates heard of his snow hole with a warm blanket idea, he began renting sleeping bags and building bigger holes. Years later when the holes were too big to make by hand, he patented a "snow igloo balloon" which could make entire rooms with one good day's snowfall. Eventually whole villages were set up - six in Switzerland and one in Norway - employing a handful of staff and two full-time ice sculptures.
You had a tour of the village through each room. It was a series of dome-shaped rooms linked by snowy corridors. Every bedroom had an unique snow-art piece carved into the walls (this year's there was music), some had ice-encapsulated flowers and one room its own spa. Outside was a hot tub and sauna, which were highly recommended for use before bedtime. The toilets were arsch kalt (literally: ass-cold) so that you almost froze to the seat.
You dumped your backpacks in the six-person room on the snow floor and settled in with another warm drink from the bar. Although there wasn't much to do, it was novelty enough to be inside the snow labyrinth and gaze at the soft lights bouncing through the ice structures. Without much movement though you were starting to chill out. Luckily fondu was timed to coincide with everyone's need to warm up again, and so you found yourself a snowy corner decked with fluffy sheepskins around a table. It was hard Swiss fondu for dinner: just cheese and bread, no sides. After scraping grandma from the bottom of the pots (burn-on cheese, the best bit) you slipped outside.
The sauna was a good place to change, being the only warm and dry place in the village. You all got naked and warmed up a bit in the sauna before running outside over the snow barefoot, rolling in the snow and jumping into the spa. Only two other couples joined in; the rest went on a snowshoe hike.
The snow plows were out running up and down preparing the slopes in the area, illuminating an otherwise dark mountain. After a few spa-based snowball fights, and a chat to a German girl about her shopping trip to Zürich, you went back inside the igloo village. Most people had returned from their late night hike and heading to the sauna, so the bar area was free. You had a few more glühwein before having a better look at your -30deg sleeping bag. It didn't look super-thick but it lay on some insulation mats and fluffy sheepskins, making it look cosy.
Before sleeping you made one more round through the sauna, snow and spa to warm up. The pool was mostly beset by Swiss in swimmers - somehow getting naked in saunas doesn't culturally translate across the border. Sleepy time.
Sledding in Klosters
At 7:30 in the morning you were woken up by the dreadlocks dude for some Ricola tea. You'd stayed mostly warm during the night while others were cold, and Meike an oven needing to open her bag completely. Your shoe laces has frozen stiff.
You headed off back up the mountain for breakfast in the lift station restaurant. People looked different clothed in ski gear as opposed to starkers in the spa. You took the cable train down the steep slope into Davos and a connection on to Klosters. There you went up another mountain via gondola and hired sleds. In pairs you set off careering down the mountain.
It was hilarious! It was steep enough that you had to focus to keep everything under control, while at the same time each sled's pillion lobbed snowballs. Some corners were really tight with deep ruts making turning fun. You franticly braked on one side, barely gaining any kinda control and just spraying snow all over you both. Wavy bumps had developed which bounded you about, kicking your spine pretty hard. Secretly, you aimed for them a little bit. With every passing sled they got worse.
During a break at the bottom you saw a pair of skis in the river and made a rescue attempt with Ulf. He briefly considered talking them for his skiing holiday the following week, but upon examination they fell apart in his hands.
Baking your backside in the sun to dry had been ineffective. You got in two runs before everyone was too wet to continue, then buggered off home.