Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Alpine Skiing Road Trip January 2017

January 13th The plan was simple, to set off on a road trip skiing in a resort for a couple of days reviewing what conditions were like and moving on. John Cackett arrived from England and we set off for Zermatt. It was snowing heavily [at last] and the drive to Zermatt was not straight forward. We used the booking app on our I phones to search for a hotel and just winged it. Most hotels in the Alps always claim to be full , but in fact they are not. Especially in January. We checked into the Monte Rosa Hotel famous as the hotel where Whymper based himself prior to his ascent of the Matterhorn on July 14th 1865. . January 14th The weather was cold and blustery and the visibility was indifferent. January 15th . Very cold but now with blue skies and impressive views all around
After we finished skiing in Zermatt we decided to head for Andermatt. We drove down to Visp , turned right [East] and headed up the Rhone valley towards the Furka pass. Here we put the car on the train and went through the Furka Tunnel and were "spat out" at in Realp. Fifteen minutes later we were in Andermatt staying at the rather unique River House Hotel which had been recently gutted and then very sympathetically renovated. January 16th The weather was very cold and snowy so we decided to ski in the area of Sedrun. To get to Sedrun involves getting on a unique train with a rather fantastic bar. It was a very new concept and unwittingly we were its first ever customers. Everything was fine while we were in the station , we enjoyed some decent swiss coffee. It was still fine as the train left the station , but it was not so fine when the train engaged its cog system and rapidly climbed up the hill. It was at this point that the entire contents of the bar slid down the train and crashed on the floor! We alighted the train at the Oberalp pass. The weather was pretty atmospheric. We stumbled around in zero visibility and then rather bizarrely came across a light house !
Next we skied around a bunch of wind turbines , which should have been a clue to the fact that it was going to be windy. It was windy , the perfect place to create wind slab avalanches: It was a day of seeing lots of unusual features , before finally getting on the train back to Andermatt. January 17th. Blue skies and very cold weather. We headed to the heart of the Andermatt skiing the Gemsstock cable car. In recent years this has become the "new La Grave" It is known for serious skiers with fat skis , and attitude. Yet it was quiet, and we had the place to ourselves. After Andermatt we were unsure where to go. Our original plan was to keep heading east hoping to go to Klosters , then St Moritz , the the Sella Ronda and possibly Cortina. Yet all these places still lacked the essential ingredient. Instead we headed north the the Bernese Oberland, namely Grindlewald. We parked the car in Grund and jumped on the train to Kleine Scheidegg where we were to stayed at the Bellvue Hotel. Again this is a unique hotel , part of the Swiss Historical Hotels group. Nothing has changed since the 1930's , but it is immaculately kept and the food is as good as you will get anywhere. Here is a photo of the entrance lobby: January 18th Straight out onto the pistes with the backdrop of the most famous North Face in the world . The Eiger Nord Wand. January 19th We took the morning off from skiing to visit the Jungfraujoch on the worlds most expensive train journey. The view from the top was good.
January 20th We skied over to Murren took the lift to the Piz Gloria Schilthorn , famous for the film On Her Majesty's service. John had a very indifferent 007 Burger.
rno After that we skied the 'Inferno' Down Hill course which was being prepared for the iconic race the next day. January 21st. This was our last day of skiing and we skied on the sunny side of Grindelwald in the ski area of First, stopping briefly in the town center to look at the amazing snow sculptures of the world snow sculpting championships.
January 22nd. After another excellent breakfast John and I caught the 8.30 train back to Grindelwald Grund. It was -15c We defrosted the car and drove to Geneva airport where I said good bye to John. Not a bad adventure, especially for a man who two years ago announced he might not ski again...

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