Jackobsbad Snowshoe Hike w. the Guys
One weekend while your lovely lady-friend was off saving the world from counterfeit medicine, you headed for the white hills on a blokey snowshoe hike. The expedition was over the for-hills of Säntis during a freezing, yet sunny, January weekend.
The path went up beside a toboggan run. It was highly amusing watching kids and adults alike careering out of control like cannonballs down the hill. There were heaps of unexpected bumps, and they were all causing spectacular tumbles. It was worth the trip to just stand and watch the twits tumble down the slope.
You all had a snack and hot drink at one of the huts along the way. The wind was picking up by the time you set off again. It was doubly demotivating that the hill got decidedly steeper, and the shortcut really didn't help; at least no one caused an avalanche. The top was too windy and cold to enjoy, so you made tracks back down. Alex's Russian comarade who'd spontaneously joined was feeling the burn - you recently heard he was still telling the tails of the hardest hike of his life to this day. The kinda long hike to the bus stop draged on for some, but it was a really beautiful trail.
Ski Touring w. Eve
As part of your Xmas present to your lady-friend, you promised to arrange ski touring equipment for the winter. Carrying two complete sets from Bächli home by foot on Friday evening was tough, and you really wanted to just buy some to avoid the hassle. Anyway...
One weekend in February your touring trio embarked on an easy tour up Flumserberg to Spitzmeilen hut. The weather had been laying some heavy snow, so it was pretty much the only tour safe to do considering the high avalanche danger. The trail was barely recognisable under the deep layer of fresh snowfall. The team navigated in turns by the fluorescent orange poles ahead, the next just barely distinguishable from the blanket-white landscape. The trail went up a few hundred meters, and then horizontal along an undulating traverse affront the Spitzmeilen. At the highest point of the hike (half way along the horizontal section) the skies cleared and the entire panorama was revealed in brilliant radient sunshine. Suddenly, the effort had been worth it.
After a tea in the very cosy hut you made you way back. You all mistakenly removed your skis skins (the carpet under your skis which lets you walk up-hill) too early on the horizontal , and consequently couldn't make a centimeter's progress at the slightest uphill. Not wanting to remove your gloves in the cold to reattach the skins, you developed a kind of paddling technique on one ski. It was cyclicly hilarious: as one slipped and got stuck upside down in the powder, others laughed, lost their balance and fell too; this repeated the entire horizontal path.
Powder Skiing w. Maren
For a second weekend the snow had fallen heavily. Maren had come to visit, and so we planned a trip back to Flumserberg to play off piste. She wasn't the most comfortable of skiers away from the prepared grooves; you tried convincing her there was no possible way to hurt herself skiing in several meters of powder.
Injury wasn't really the issue after all. Once you all started hitting the black slopes the biggest problem was getting stuck in the damn snow. You needed to maintain a minimum speed to enable any kind of control. Those who slowed found themselves loosing balance and filling their warm dry pants with cold wet snow. Your lady tried helping her liebe schwesterlein but only fell with her.
At the end of the day the group attempted the talfahrt all the way back down the mountain to the base gondola station. This run was only open when enough snow had fallen to cover the unprepared rough terrain. By low snow its many tree stumps and boulders make it too dangerous, but with today's deep cover it was a rough stunt course of jumps and bumps. You had the absolute time of you life careering down the mountain, playing on the sharp edge between control lucky misses. Not everyone shared your enthusiasm. Several of the skiing party were new to deep snow and finding it a bit unnerving. Notwithstanding, it was the best skiing day of 2013 ever!
Adelboden Ski Week w. Everyone
A good ten people signed up for the ski week this year. Kirsten arranged the accommodation - a beautiful modern mountain chalet in Adelboden - and you all trundled in over the weekend. The chalet was huge and well suited for a rowdy group of train engineers, et. al., with its open bar kitchen, heated floor and big soft lounge chairs. You considered skipping the skiing to lounge in luxury, but your shiny new ski-touring skis needed testing and the weather wasn't half bad.
Although the snow in the beginning was good and the sunshine endless, through melting / freezing cycles the surface turned to ice. While the snow was still good and with your lovely lady along for the ride, you plowed off piste from Adelboden to Lenk. By Tuesday, however, the ice was taking hold and you could find few willing to brave off-piste. By the end of the week it really wasn't worth the effort of digging you edges into the ice on every curve to keep control, so took it easy and read Sherlock Holmes on your iPad in the chalet.
The group took one day off skiing for a snowshoe hike. During the train ride to Eggeschwand some of the group had trouble getting off the topic of trains, specifically the amazing windy section. "Can we not go one week without discussing trains?" The hike from Sunnbüel to Daubensee was great but freezing cold.
Cross Country Skiing w. Dani & Ulf
Cross country skiing always seemed to be winter sport for the faint of heart. Shuffling slowly along prepared grooves didn't sound like much fun, but you tried it anyway. Dani and her new man-friend Ulf were visiting for the weekend, so the group went to Einsiedeln.
Your preconceptions of the sport were accurate: it was only slightly less dull than you imagined. Cross country skiing certainly got you working hard, and paired with a pretty view it could make for a good day out. Unfortunately, it was freezing cold and foggy so the day ended up just being some cold exercise. During the loop there were a few crashes in curves - cross country skis have no edges and therefore can't really turn - but no injuries reported. Overall: worth trying but nothing amazing.
Federis Snowshoe Hike w. her Parents
As an adventure to do with her visiting parents, your lady-friend found a two-day snowshoe hike she considered suitable for beginners and away you went for the weekend. The plan was to start from Fideriser Heuberge, hike up and along the Mattjisch Horn and sleep at Skihaus Cassana. Although there was an avalanche risk the path was not dangerous and the way was clear. The day was cheery enough until heavy fog set in and everything turned white; vision was reduced to three meters away in all directions. The ground was completely indistinguishable for lack contrast, and you had to use your hiking poles to probe whether it went up or down.
Atop the ridge with no markings, no footprints and no clue where to find a safe descend, you were a little screwed. Your GPS became a tool for the first time, rather than just a toy. Navigating by the contour lines, you walked between the widest spaces (least steep) to the hut. Apart from the last very questionable part (a traverse across a field of mini-avalanches) you found the hut with little incidence.
The next morning the fog had lifted to reveal a beautiful valley surrounded on all sides by avalanches. You had luckily taken the only path between the avalance danger zones the afternoon before! To both sides of your descent were some nasty looking avalances. Without your heroic GPS things would've surely gone awry. #toldyouso
For the hike back you took a safer path along the west side of the mountain away from steep slopes. It was tough and cold, but mostly sunny. You werent completely sure where you were, but Meike had managed to keep up the appearance that everything was under control and normal. Your guests were mostly keeping up ok. Norbert had sunk into the snow waist-deep for the tenth time, and an avalanche was seen falling in the distance, but no one really worried. You crossed several magnificent plains of footprint-free snow, and by afternoon found the path back to the car. Great, mostly-safe trip!