With a seductive $520 round trip Seattle<->Basel proffered via Air France my tender parts tingled.
After a hell of a year with death, disemployment and dystopic dysfunction, the best girl in the whirled encouraged me to head out into the weird and git some good eurosnow.
Soon, bits etraversed the Atlantic and plans were laid with abundant madness proffered by mulletizer, birdo and paxti without whom this estream of idiocy would not have existed. A bajillion thanks and heartfelt h00haw to these fine humans.
Packing light in a 40 liter pack and planning on blending in after a few days with the finest of unpasteurized eurocheeses, I winged (wunged?) off into the blue from SeaTac Jan 11, landing in Basel after a 4 hour connection at Charles De Gaulle. There, scooped up by mulletizer in a sleek awd diesel eurowagon past the reach of Americans, we set off on the trek.
First stop was Verbier in burning blue savoring leftover pow from the sequence of storms racking the alps this year.
Mont Gele cable car. Crossing tracks really wasn't so bad that day:
Mont Blanc massif from Mont Fort, Bruson in foreground below:
We managed to get in laps in Val d'Arby (no roast beef) and off Mont Fort in the course of 5 hours or so. Massive place, really great lift system, so much excellent sidecountry.
After our 1 day there, we loaded into the trusty eurosled and rallied down to La Grave.
The little window of meteosanity remained open for a couple of days. The first day was a bit greybirdy with good chalk and leftover pow between bits of windboard. We played it safe mostly skiing on the Chancel side where both the Banane and Patou couloirs had some hard ice at the top. The successful efforts to navigate them were rewarded with an excellent lunch at the Refuge Chancel of duck.
La Meije In Grey:
The second day broke blue and made the mining of luscious tongues of boot top pow on the Girose glacier much easier. The better light also made runs down the Chancel side much more free rolling.
Girose Glacier in blue:
(can see a person in the Banane couloir, a dot in the snow on the right coming out of the cliffs. Patou couloir coming in more from center left)
The Queen (Reine) de La Meige from La Grave 3200:
La Reine from the Vallon:
The Girose glacier from 3200:
Freaky La Meije ridge outline in the clouds:
Les Terasses Church across from La Meije above La Grave:
Looking up the Col de Lauteret on the shutdown day:
And on the third day Skaadi spoke and her wrath flowed wildly down upon the Romanche, causing the Mairie to shut the telepherique for the day. Daunted, we blundered over to the little Chazelet area in the bluster and made a day of it at the facial exfoliation spa of the Hautes-Alpes department. By 1:00 we'd had enough and retired to our lodgings.
The fourth day brought the full blast of Valhalla's malice down and everything was shut with 100 kph winds and level 4+ avalanche warnings. We amused ourselves with a provisioning attempt by skiing down into LG from the Hieres area to find the village bundled tight with no options for food or drink.
Day 5 saw a break in the storm so the Mairie opened the lower telepherique with a fine layer of knee deep pow in the trees skiing great. I think there was all of 60 people skiing and we saw line after line of unskied goodness in the larches down low.
Then it was time for mulletizer to carve off to other objectives, so he once again went way out of his way to accommodate my ski schedule and drop me in Geneva early enough to make the trsain to Engleberg. I extend a huDge thanks to him for his kindness and heart.
Day 7 - Engelberg .
The precision of the Swiss trackworks clacked and clicked me to Eberg in less than 4 hours with only 1 transfer from Geneva to Eberg at Luzern. SBB never ceases to amaze me.
Storm Evi had hit the Alps by this time causing all sorts of shutdowns. Engelberg was well prepared to deal with storms and had shut only the upper lifts to the Titlis to skiers while still transporting hundreds of non skiers up to the ice grottos. The main new gondola from the village up to the Stand area below the Titlis is fast and high capacity with little morning backup.
The Stand zone was whited out and blustery. Crossing the Trubsee to the Jochpass didn't prove any more clarity with the Jochstock closed as well. Snow was bottomless and a little wind affected but visibility was occluded.
I had remembered a weird little lift off to the side down along the treeline I had seen on previous visits, so at 10:30 I slid over there to check out the viability. Lo and behold a Swiss elder was just sweeping out the loading area and grunted "10 minutes" to meet, signaling me to wait. Which I did. What ensued was a day of glorious solo trams rides (7 solo to be exact) only sharing the little blue can 3 times.
The zone included a little bowl fed by a couloir at treeline and a few other options of meadowskippy crests along a ridge that dumped into scrubby bush seasoned steeper draws. I literally did not cross any tracks and saw no other tracks until noon when a small guided group invaded my tram privacy and flushed the couloir of any snow stability doubts. Like any good scrounger, I consumed the scraps of thigh deep snow along their initializations.
By 3:00 I was beat and glided down to my digs in town.
After a shower and some coffee, I met paxti and shared some beers where we made plans to rendezvous the next day.
Paxti met me at the tram at 8:30 and we were off. The storm had slacked off just a little enough so there was actual visibility so we headed up and warmed up around the Stand zone. I had wanted to ski the Laub for years but had been thwarted by storms and conditions. Not so this time and paxti led me and a few others on the traverse through the keyhole to 1200 vertical meters of 35+ degree constant thigh screaming shin deep pitch. This picture does no justice to the fact that one can almost fit all of the vertical of Jackson Hole into this single pitch.
Nothing short of all time skiing. As the weather deteriorated, paxti wisely retreated while I tried to find a few more good slices from the Stand on through the Jochpass and evena few swipes back at the little blue can.
The next day the Norse gods got peeved again and threw down gales and snow making skiing really difficult. Even the hardiest of Euros were scarce.
I tried in vain to find some visibility and ended up resigning myself to the pistes since off piste was too vague and lumpy for turns.
The storms of the century turned up the bass and shut down Engelberg almost entirely. My plans were foiled to ski that day and ride the trains to Andermatt. In fact the trains to Goeschenen were shut by slides and all access by road or the little cog railway to Andermatt were out of the question.
Paxti to the rescue. Again, incredible heart and character made my time there unbelievably awesome as paxti generously showed me around old Luzern and gave me a ride to Erstfeld where I could catch the last remaining public transport to Goeschenen below Andermatt.
After a tasty and hearty meal at the Krone with entertaining conversation with a group from Hamburg, I snoozed out and woke to clouds and murk on the North side of the St. Gotthard . Birdo to the rescue, suggesting a foray through the 10 mile long St. Gotthard (they must have had some hot nuns around Saint Got, huh?) . While the trains were running from Goeschenen to Airolo with shuttle bus running from the Airolo train station to the ski area every 30 minutes, Danny offered to drive.
Looking North from Airolo up the St. Gotthard pass.
We had a killer day in the sunshine, finding pow weirdly interspersed among light to horrendous crust independent of elevation. The hypotheses included a wind driving moist fog into certain aspects, but we did eventually divine an algorithm optimizing pow performance and tons of smiles. Props to birdo.
Off the top tram at Airolo:
Winds died down, looking North over the St. Gotthard to Andermatt:
At days end the news was that the road and cog train to Andermatt was open. Over dinner at the Krone (a great place and central for pow chasing in central CH) I bid adieu and cogged it up to old Andermatt and climbed the piste in the dark up to BasecampAndermatt.
Day 11 Andermatt .
On arriving winded at the door of BasecampAndermatt http://www.basecamp-andermatt.com/en I misunderstood the access code directions and ended up banging on the door. I was greeted by a dreadlocked hipster with a gleam in the eye only to later discover I knew his online character from elsewhere, K.
We sat and chatted while I tried to explain idiotic American practices around insurance and healthcare. K & mate S kindly shared their food with me andf I crashed out early with intent to ski the Gemstock at Andermatt the next day after it had been closed for a few days.
Next day broke blue and the shredfest was on. K & S and I wandered down to the bus stop only to find it not running due to snow removal, so we ankled it over to the Gemstock where I met Patrick from http://www.andermatt-guides.ch/EN . It was a day of slaying fresh pow.
Avie control had left large portions of the main bowl under the Gemstock riddled with chunks of avie debris. So the first few runs Patrick checked us out while we waitrred for subtle plague. Around 10:30 sp caught up and it was off to slay more pow on the fringes. We mined the areas under the Gemstock and managed a good lap out in the Felsental around 11. Note the crowdsl:
Out in the Felsenthal, Patrick cautioned "don't be afraid of the bush".
I replied : "that's what she said."
snurks echoed up and down the valley.
and finished it off with a lap down the giraffe.
Looking up the giraffe 1/5 of the way down:
Looking down the giraffe 1/5 of the way down, battling the crowds for powder at 3 pm:
Capped it off with beer at the Apothek.
Great to finally ski with that k00k subtle plague.
Last day I railed around by myself while K waited for a call that never came. Hopefully we can ski together some more next time.
Bye bye Gemstock (taken from Nätschen across the valley. Tram building visible at top. )
By 2 I had packed my stuff and slid down to the train station for the 4 hour, 2 change trip to Basel where a I crashed for a night bfore the flight home. Hard to believe I was skiing Anderamtt 36 hours ago.
Summary: 6 ski areas: Verbier (1), La Grave (3), Chazelet (1), Engelberg (3), Airolo (1) and Andermatt (2) in 12 days.
There are strange things skied
On the midnight weed
By the folks who mine for pow
Their snow laden tales
Frought with ice and gales
Will make your eyes pop wow
The Alpish Slopes
Have seen some dopes
But the dumbest they ever did see
Was the day in Davos
That diplo cosmos
When appeared, with comb over, Donny T.
Now Donny T
Was from NYC
Where he was raised on a silver spoon
But given his conduct
And deals so corrupt
One wonders: was his mouth replaced by his moon?
*message edited by Chester_Tartsnatcher op 29 Jan 2018 21:29 (4% bewerkt)
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