Beside the sea

We headed for the seaside today, to our regular haunt in Southwold. As the crow flies, it is less than 120 miles from home. However, not being crows, we headed around the M25 as usual and despite a good journey, unimpeded by tractors or other impedimenta of the Suffolk countryside, it was close to four hours following a very early start when we crossed the small bridge dividing Reydon and Southwold.

The sun was shining but it was a quieter day than most Saturdays in this popular east coast town. We are here for a week and have our usual holiday let and our usual beach hut. It is our sloathful week for the year. We don’t do much other than read and watch the waves.

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                                  The North Sea

As the day went on, the wind picked up and we retreated into the beach hut. This evening we met friends in the Lord Nelson Inn. It has been a busy few weeks since we returned from Wengen, with family matters topping the agenda. A week of not doing much at all is very welcome.

All done

Over the last week, several lifts have closed for the season. Bumps T bar went first, followed by Fallboden (not that it runs that often anyway) and the Innerwengen chair on Sunday. Honegg was closed also for a couple of days last week.

Today the wind was forecast to blow and many other lifts were shut. It was windy, but perhaps not as much as expected. It did seem that parts of the mountain were cut off without any need. The day was grey and miserable though.

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                From the Arven red piste

The forecast, reliable or not as it might be, is for some very poor weather tomorrow and heavy snow on Saturday. There is sunshine forecast for Sunday and it should be one of the great days of the season. There must be, without doubt, enough snow to see out the last couple of weeks before all the lifts close.

My season is done though. I skied my last run in the mid afternoon as rain turned to snow and the wind did blow strongly. We are in Wengen for a couple more days, but on Sunday, when the skiers are enjoying what might be fabulous conditions, we will be heading for Zurich airport and on to London.

For us it has been a strange winter. It didn’t unfold as we hoped in any way at all. For me, the skiing was a consistent highpoint, with wonderful early snow and good conditions all winter, even in the long snow drought of February and early March. However, the lows were very low indeed, with illness and death stalking the family. Mrs IS, hit by illness herself in the middle of January, was unable to ski for the rest of the season.

The final day of my winter brought 6,016 vertical metres in 14 lift rides and 32 kilometres travelled.

As for the season, 114 days skiing brought 1,001,297 vertical metres in 2,245 lift rides and 5,651 kilometres travelled.

I hope to be in touch over the summer.

Another day, different again

This morning it was grey again early on, but chilly. On the piste it was icy from the cable car to Holenstein. Things changed quickly though; the sun emerged and the pistes softened. By 11.00am Mannlichen was stodgy and hard work.

Yesterday, I was convinced that the season, in terms of numbers of skiers at least, was at an end. However, there is still life in Wengen yet and today the pistes were busier, as were the village bars and the Co-op. The English school holidays account for many of the new skiers

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                                  The Eiger at mid day

Each day seems to be radically different from its predecessor at the moment. If the weather forecast is correct, tomorrow will be different again, with some pretty poor weather expected. Of course, it might all have changed by the morning.

What was finally a warm, sunny day brought 10,536 vertical metres in 21 lift rides and 65 kilometres travelled.

A day for all seasons

It was grey and cold first thing. It snowed early on and into the late morning. The sun was trying its best though and by mid day we had lighter skies, with sunshine in the early afternoon. The temperature went from about freezing first thing to double figures by the middle of the afternoon. The snow went from near perfect to very stodgy.

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                      Early morning grey

The lifts are open for another couple of weeks, but the village is winding down already. A number of hotels have closed in the last few days and the main street is quiet both early and late. Wengen will soon be slumbering until the summer season.

A day for all seasons brought 10,405 vertical metres in 20 lift rides and 65 kilometres travelled.

One sunny day

It was a prompt start today.  The cable car was busy, but not full.  Most people on the platform seemed to know each other and there was a murmur of conversation, the quietness reflecting the early hour.  On Mannlichen, the still cold snow glistened in the sunlight.  

We had a month or more of sunshine in late February and March, but after three days of snow, the sunshine was welcome once more.  Spring skiing should be warm and sunny and so it was today.  Tomorrow might be warm, but sunshine looks limited. 

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                             Early morning sunshine

For an out of season Monday, the hill was busy. Each car of the gondola from Grund was occupied, suggesting a fair number of day trippers from Interlaken and beyond. As always when day skiers are out and about, it was quiet by mid afternoon.

An early start brought 11,702 vertical metres in 22 lift rides and 63 kilometres travelled.

Lauberhorn run

The Lauberhorn is many things; a peak, a lift, a piste (not the racecourse, oddly) and a downhill race. In recent years it has also been an uphill race, the World Cup run in reverse. When it began, it seemed anything went; running shoes, snow shoes and touring skis all featured. Now it seems to have settled into a run, or a walk for those at the back of the field.

This morning dawned (or at least became less grey) with the snow still falling. I headed up to the village at about 9.00am to find a steady stream of runners heading towards the start line at Innerwengen. The queue at the tourist office for race registration was long. This race has become a fixture in the Wengen calendar.

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                                 A break in the clouds

It was busier on the mountain this morning than at any point yesterday. Visibility was better though. We had sunshine, almost, for a while. I reached Wixi in the afternoon. The last finishers for the run were approaching the finish point at what is the World Cup start hut. One was wearing an old fashioned wooden frame on his back, which held a milk churn. I can only hope it was not full, as it would have been back when mountain farming was even more labour intensive than it is today.

A varied day, with runners, skiers, cloud and more snow brought 8,170 vertical metres in 17 lift rides and 46 kilometres travelled.

Not as we know it

It has been Saturday today, but not as we know it.  The 9.30am cable car was more than half full, but the mountain was more than half empty.  Boningen ski club turned up, as did the Wengen equivalent, again, but that was about it for the Saturday regulars and it felt like an out of season mid week day.

It had snowed through the night, but the pistes were prepared to perfection.  Despite the low cloud and continuing snow, visibility was somewhere between adequate and okay. The digital displays at the lift stations insisted all day that it was minus eleven degrees on the hill, but it never felt that cold. With that temperature, I would expect to be in five layers with inner gloves and hand warmers, but I was quite happy with a mere four layers.  There was however little or no wind today.

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                              Bumps in the afternoon 

As the day wore on, the skiers went home. On Bumps in the afternoon there were a couple of local snowboarders weaving in and out of the trees, but otherwise I had the run to myself.

The village was fairly busy, with people arriving and registering for the Lauberhorn run tomorrow. The course is the downhill in reverse. It doesn’t bear thinking about, especially with so much new snow.

A good day brought 7,896 vertical metres in 17 lift rides and 44 kilometres travelled.

Winter is back

The weather has been prevaricating for a couple of days, but it made a decision finally last night. The fairly light snow of yesterday turned into a heavier fall overnight, became something more significant by the morning and was torrential at Scheidegg this afternoon. The forecast might have been an April fool’s joke, but it turned out to be real.

An early visit to the Punch Bowl was not the best idea. The snow was magnificent, but the visibility was nil. A long trip through the trees to Grund offered better light. It was still snowing, just about, in the depths of the Grindelwald valley, but it wasn’t settling very much.

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                                           On the way to Grund

It is still snowing now in Wengen, with more forecast for tomorrow. Snowfall at this time of year tends to melt away quite quickly, with warmer ground and more direct sunlight, but I suspect sufficient has fallen in the last few hours to keep the mountain going nicely until closing day.

The day brought 7,890 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 48 kilometres travelled.

Lost in cloud

The sun shone on Mannlichen for an hour or so in the morning, but apart from that interlude, we have been lost in cloud. For much of the day, it looked like MeteoSwiss were off beam with their forecast. Visibility was terrible all afternoon, there was rain in the village but only a smattering of snow.

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                                  Better visibility, for a while

Finally though the snow fell heavily, at least to the level of Bumps T bar. More is forecast for tomorrow, but at the moment, down here in the lower part of the village, it is still almost four degrees. We will see what the morning brings.

A dismal day brought 8,477 vertical metres in 19 lift rides and 49 kilometres travelled.

The weather changes

After weeks of sunshine, give or take a day or so, the weather has turned finally. The cold weather we were promised hasn’t arrived yet; it was almost eight degrees on the balcony this morning. The precipitation has arrived though, in the form of rain in the village and snow on the very top of the mountain.

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                                  Wixi chairlift in the clouds

The clouds were low and heavy all day, but it was one of those occasions when it is impossible to see twenty yards ahead, but the few feet of visibility needed to ski was fine completely. Tomorrow is forecast to be colder with significant snow. That is from MeteoSwiss, so it is as nailed on as it gets in the weather forecasting game.

After the quiet of yesterday, the pistes were more or less deserted today. Some of the hotels end their season soon and it may be that the village has finished for business before the lifts close.

The day brought 8,267 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 43 kilometres travelled.