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Oldenburg and Gemsfairenstock

Went to Oldenburg on the overnight train, where you ate cake and dug about in the garden. Next did a ski tour up Gemsfairenstock.

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Over the Easter break you both went to visit Hertha in Oldenburg. Flying would be expensive and driving too far, so you decided to take the overnight sleeper train. That way the travel time wouldn't count since you'd be asleep. That's what you assumed anyway.

In the sleeper car on the train

The old DB sleeper cars — probably built in the 70's — were small but functional. You had two beds in a six-person compartment with three beds were stacked on opposing walls, a small window (bolted shut) in front and a sliding door with a 3 cm air vent behind. Laying in the middle bed gave you enough air gap to the bed above to bend you knees. This was lucky because you only fit diagonally with you head against the door and feet pressed against the window, while your bag shared the bed. The locked window had a small air conditioner unit which only ran while the train was in motion. Your eight hour trip included many stops, some 45 minutes long, so the air got quite stuffy at times with six people crammed inside. From Hannover you took a connection for two hours to Oldenburg, then confuddled through the bus network to grandma's house.

At the dining table in Oldenburg

So happy to have guests, she had gone shopping and bought enough for lots of hungry people, so the fridge was full of food. She had also made two cakes: an apricot crumble and kalter hund (chocolate log with biscuits). She served them up with whipped cream and coffee during breaks from gardening. They were really nice. It was clear there was not way to finish everything, and so one cake ended up in you luggage back to Zürich.

Apart from digging in the garden you didn't really have a plan for the weekend. It was honestly just nice to be there and relax, read a book, chat and eat. The weekend went by way too fast.

Gemsfairenstock Skitour

It's really bad luck when skiing to say "last run". If you think about it, all significant skiing accidents can only happen on the last run. You already closed the skiing season — at least emotionally — a few weeks ago, so heading up Gemsfairenstock was undertaken with the utmost care. The conditions didn't seem so bad.

Taking selfies, since no one else wanted to carry the camera

From Linthal a private bus stood ready to drive you up into Urnerboden Village. You were supposed to have booked it, but luckily there was enough space. At first there didn't seem to be much snow laying around. From Urnerboden at 1372 m, you took a tiny gondola up to 2036 m and joined the march. There was enough snow/ice and the conditions seemed stable, but there were way too many people. It was a regular single-lane ski touring procession!

Between 2100 m and 2900 m you couldn't see a damn thing. It was really cloudy with intense scattered light, so you were being double blinded. You didn't notice you needed sun cream until it was too late, after getting above the clouds. The snow was packed firm all the way to the top, making you wonder how the skiing would rate. The view from Gemsfaiernstock towards Tödi and over the Claridenfirn glacier was impressive.

Panoramic view towards Tödi from Gemsfairenstock

As you expected, this tour was more about getting outside and having some fun than for an excellent skiing experience. The way back down was rough, icy, blind and tricky. The transition between icy snow and wet snow was sudden, leaving no nice powder run between. Everything below 2000 m was heavy and sloppy, making turning a bitch. You didn't manage a single nice turn the whole way down but at least you could ski the entire way. Late season ski touring is tough.

There was a bit of a wait in Urnerboden for the bus, so you retired to the guesthouse for some hot soup. While waiting you checked the train connections on your SBB phone app and noticed it accepted emojis. You wondered if anyone at the SBB had a sense of humor, linking an actual place in Switzerland with the smiling poo emoji. Turns out only you had that idea.