Is anybody there?

It seemed like it might be a busy day when I reached the cable car. There was no queue, but the car was full and was on its way again more or less immediately upon arriving at Mannlichen. On the mountain there were plenty of people around for an hour or so, but the pistes then became very quiet.

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                   From Wengenalp

The technical difficulties experienced by the blog over the last few days continue still. I keep writing, but I wonder if anyone is out there. WordPress acknowledge there is a problem with their platform and that they are working on it. We hope for the best.

Forgetting about computer problems for the moment, the day’s skiing has been as good as possible. After the early morning rush, the skiing was magnificent on cold, well groomed pistes. Early cloud gave way to sunshine. Weather forecasting around here is always fraught with difficulty, but tomorrow looks promising.

A great day on the mountain brought 10,984 vertical metres in 22 lift rides and 59 kilometres travelled.

Time flies

It was much better weather when the Idle Skiers woke this morning.  There was cloud in the valley, but it cleared quickly.  Swiss half term holidays for some areas have begun already and the mountain was unexpectedly busy.  We know the Jungfrau region will be packed beyond any tolerable level for the British and Dutch half terms, but the idea of a busy week now has caught us unawares.  It may be quieter tomorrow as there were still weekend skiers on the pistes for most of the day.

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    From Honegg

Time flies. In December it was dusk by 3.15pm. Now the opening hours for most lifts have been extended to 4.30pm and the Innerwengen chair to 5.15pm. It seems to have happened in the blink of an eye.

The crowds brought lift queues. On Mannlichen, the best skiing was again to the mid station at Holenstein, which avoided the scrum at the four man chair. Honegg was quiet, with good skiing back towards Gummi. The lift station at Wixi resembled an anthill, with the ongoing schools races at the top of the downhill course adding to the numbers looking to use the chair.

It was quiet on the way home though and the run to Innerwengen was in great shape. A day of lift queues brought 8,781 vertical metres in 17 lift rides and 46 kilometres travelled.

More gremlins

It was another poor morning, but the skiers of the Bernese Oberland were not deterred.  There was a small queue for the cable car, but given the heavy cloud it was surprising there was a queue at all.  The day did pick up for a while, before deteriorating into a grey afternoon.

It hasn’t been the best day frankly.  This morning, I discovered gremlins had found their way into my WordPress webpage again and many recipients of this blog hadn’t in fact received last night’s edition at all.  In consequence some regular readers will now have received that version several times, as I tried vainly to resolve the problem, and some of you not at all. My apologies to these who I have inundated with emails.  For everyone else, I would apologise as well, but there seems to be a fair chance you would not receive it.

I was distracted this morning in consequence and reached the cable car platform before realising I had forgotten my helmet and goggles.  A return to Central Sport, with additional queuing time, added half an hour to the trip to Mannlichen.  As they say, I would forget my head if it wasn’t attached. 

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                  A sunny interval

Mannlichen was busy, with skiers, out of control toboggans and wannabe racers. The best runs were to the mid station at Holenstein and then finally to Grund. On Wixi in the afternoon the queues for the chair lift were the longest of the season. I hope for better things tomorrow, but as some Swiss half term holidays have started already, it may be very busy still.

A day which ranks fairly low in the season’s highlights brought 8,868 vertical metres in 14 lift rides and 47 kilometres travelled.

One of our lifts is missing

This morning things were pretty much as usual for the week. It was cloudy in the valley, with the promise of blue skies on the mountain. The promise wasn’t fulfilled completely however. The sun shone early on, but clouds began to dominate by midday. It was very cold though, all the more so in the fog back to the village late in the afternoon.

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           Cloud in the Grindelwald valley

Over the last twenty years or so, most of the lifts in our neck of the woods have been renewed. An exception has been Fallboden, which starts next to the Wixi base station. There was a plan to upgrade it at the same time as the Wixi chair, the new version of which is well over a decade old now, but it never happened. Fallboden is old and slow and goes nowhere in particular, dumping skiers in a slight hollow with only one route out.

Maybe the plan for a new, longer lift will be resurrected, but at the moment it seems unlikely. Over the last few years, the lift has been open rarely, normally at weekends and during the February half term holidays. This season it has not been open at all. Worse still, it has disappeared from the online piste maps and the digital boards around the mountains. One of our lifts has gone missing and it seems doubtful it will ever be found. There is no reason to regret its passing, but still I am sorry to see it go.

A day of some sun but increasing cloud brought 10,471 vertical metres in 21 lift rides and 56 kilometres travelled.

Above the clouds

When we woke this morning, the weather didn’t look promising. The lower part of the village was lost in cloud. However, there was a hint of clearer skies higher on the mountain and a check on the Mannlichen webcam proved that to be the case. I was on my way as quickly as possible. Cloudy days in the valley have a habit of becoming cloudy days on the peaks later on.

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                  Above the clouds

The skiing was magnificent again, with few skiers around and perfectly groomed pistes at both Mannlichen and Scheidegg. As a bonus, the clouds stayed in the valley and it was only on the way home that I dropped into very cold cloud, somewhere beneath Bumps T bar.

The weather seems to be set fair for a few days at least and as it is Friday tomorrow the mountain will be busier, with people finding an urgent need to work from home, or possibly the chairlifts.

The day brought 11,247 vertical metres in 23 lift rides and 60 kilometres travelled.

Gremlins in the system

The Lauberhorn lift was closed yesterday.  It broke on Monday and skiers spent an hour or so on the chairs in very cold weather before being released.  The lift opened again finally this morning.

Last night, this blog failed to post properly. I didn’t realise until Mrs IS pointed out over breakfast the absence of her usual email of my rambling thoughts.  I managed to find the correct button to press early this evening. Clearly, we are suffering from gremlins in the system here in Wengen.

Apart from a few mechanical and technology problems, things continue at their best. The sun shone, the snow squeaked under ski and the crowds stayed away.  It was also a little warmer than it has been for a week or so.  It seems impossible usually for the weather gods to get this right; it is either too cold or too warm, but today they came close to providing the ideal conditions.  All we need now is that really big snowfall, but it seems unlikely for the next few days at least.

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                          From the gondola at midday 

The lift company is still working at full pace and more pistes have opened, including the red run which ends at Mary’s Cafe, one of my favourite pistes on the mountain.

It has been a very good day’s skiing, bringing 10,222 vertical metres in 20 lift rides and 56 kilometres travelled.

More snow needed

I have said this repeatedly in the last couple of weeks, but today was the best day of the season so far.  The sun shone, there were few skiers around and all the pistes were in good working order. From the cable car in the morning to the Innerwengen chair in the late afternoon, the skiing was superb. Over the last few days several pistes which have been closed so far this winter have come to life, adding immeasurably to the skiing.

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                                     The route home 

Still though more snow is needed. The wind blew at Scheidegg last night and exposed many rocks on the mountain ridges. It brought home that our grip on the season remains tenuous, despite the marathon efforts of the lift company. A few days ago, I chatted on the gondola from Holenstein to an elderly local skier, Wengen born and bred. He was optimistic about the season and the future generally. He did mention though that he remembered, many years ago, a single night’s snowfall being almost two metres. Something similar now would be more than welcome.

A great day on the mountain brought 10,287 vertical metres in 21 lift rides and 55 kilometres travelled.

All quiet in Wengen

It has been a quiet day on the mountain.  The Lauberhorn and Inferno races are now a memory and the February crowds are still only a dark speck on the horizon.  The holiday makers who are here this week were out and about of course, but there were few local skiers. Early on it looked like an excellent weather day was in prospect, but as the morning progressed the blue sky over Interlaken didn’t seem to be getting any closer.  Dark clouds buffeted the Eiger until nearly midday.

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                      Clouds clearing

Finally the clouds slipped away quietly, the sun appeared instead and an afternoon of good skiing was in prospect. So it turned out to be. The temperature settled at something tolerable and the pistes were less icy than yesterday, though some newly sharpened edges helped as well. At the end of the day, it was a solitary, excellent ski all the way to the village.

A chilly, ultimately sunny day brought 8,575 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 47 kilometres travelled.

Winter

We have had some very cold days in the last week and today added to the collection.  The rest of the week looks fairly chilly as well.  It is winter definitely at the moment.

Snow fell steadily last night.  It was still falling lightly this morning, but the clouds were clearing from the direction of Interlaken and the day looked promising.  On Mannlichen at 10.00am the sun was fighting its way through the remaining clouds. The skiing was good.  It was busier than might be expected on a Sunday morning, but nothing like yesterday.

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          From Wixi bridge in the afternoon 

The new snow only amounted to about five centimetres in depth, but it made a difference to most of the mountain. Schwarzen, which was a slick as an ice skating rink the other day, was in a fairly benign mood. Wixi had great skiing, although plenty of moguls for almost half the run. It snowed there again as the afternoon progressed.

The lower part of the racecourse was very icy though and I scraped my way down to Innerwengen. The piste bashers were on the World Cup slalom course, so there is a chance it might be open in the next day or so. The piste looked good this afternoon, but whether it will seem the same when heading into the steep section towards the end of the course is another thing entirely.

Another very cold day brought 8,505 vertical metres in 17 lift rides and 46 kilometres travelled.

Colder still

The Saturday crowds arrived after all. The  local ski clubs were on the mountain, along with others from as far away as Biel-Bienne.  There was a queue at the cable car for almost the first time this season, with many more on the gondola from Grund.  Shortly before 10.00am Mannlichen could easily have hung up the “mountain full” sign.

The morning was sunnier than forecast, but it was bitterly cold, minus 22 degrees at Mannlichen with a vicious East wind straight from Siberia.  The skiing was good though, less icy in most places than yesterday.  By midday the crowds on the hill were thinning out and the restaurants were doubtless full to capacity 

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             Near Holenstein

It did warm up slightly during the afternoon, either that or I was too numb to notice the temperature.  On Wixi the clouds rolled in and it snowed, lightly at first but with more vim as the afternoon turned into evening.  We have been to dinner with friends this evening and on the way home the falling snow, the heavy white clouds and the village lights made the path home a winter wonderland.

A day cold enough to linger in the memory for some time brought 8,216 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 44 kilometres travelled.