More winter

It was a good morning yet again, perhaps with a few more clouds than the last few days, but nothing to suggest it would be anything other than an early spring day.

The clouds rolled in towards midday. I still didn’t expect anything other than a grey afternoon with some flat light. On Lager at about 1.00pm a few flakes of snow fell. Nothing to write home about though.

              Early blue skies

An hour or so later it was snowing hard, big flakes of wet snow. It was difficult to see, with a heavy curtain of snow filling the sky. It had been quiet all day, but the few skiers around disappeared by mid afternoon. The snow turned to rain somewhere below Bumps T bar, but I think I was the only person around to see it. From there to Innerwengen was sludgy and difficult.

An unexpected winter’s day brought 10,360 vertical metres in 23 lift rides and 59 kilometres travelled.

The world in Wengen

It was yet another crystal clear morning early on, the mountains in sharp relief against an already blue sky. A busy Friday sometimes means a quieter Saturday, but not this week when the world arrived at our door.

The ski clubs weren’t around much, other than Bonigen, which had reserved one of the best pistes on the mountain, Distelboden, for races. However, everyone else did show up and by mid morning it was uncomfortably busy. I left Mannlichen early, hoping for better things on the other side of the hill, but at the Arven group of lifts there were long queues everywhere. In search of some unoccupied snow, I headed for Brandegg for the first time this season. It is pretty much a path, but a beautiful run still.

         From above Arven

By the time I had made it back to Scheidegg, the crowds were in the restaurants and a few good runs on Honegg were there for the taking. As always these days, the run to Innerwengen was very quiet.

A day of long lift queues and crowded slopes brought 8,121 vertical metres in 20 lift rides and 46 kilometres travelled.

Working from the piste

Another sunny day hove into view this morning. I misjudged just how mild it would be and was very warm all day. Tomorrow, I will leave a layer of clothes at home and will be cold all day I am sure.

Working from home has been common for a few years now, at least in the U.K., but today it seems that working from the piste was the only thing to do in the Bernese Oberland. Offices across the Canton must have been largely empty. A busy morning meant crowded restaurant terraces at lunchtime. Things quietened down this afternoon, when the only queues were at the Eigernordwand lift.

           Hazy sunshine

As the day wore on, the clear blue sky of the morning gave way to a hazy sunshine. The day skiers arrive and leave via Grindelwald these days, using the still new V bahn lifts, so the run home was more or less deserted. In the village, on the nursery slope, there was some sort of dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s Pool Race. The race normally attracts grey skies, but unless the weather gods have a trick up their sleeves, there should be at least some sunshine this year.

A warm day, with some crowded moments, brought 10,170 vertical metres in 20 lift rides and 58 kilometres travelled.

Where to ski

It was another bright morning leading to a sunny ski day. It was a little warmer than yesterday, but still the pistes were good. I expected some slushy snow to Innerwengen, but the run was much the same as yesterday. Indeed, it was better just below Bumps T bar, where the piste bashers had left some nasty, lumpy ice the day before.

All of which set me thinking about where to ski. As long as the Idle Skiers have been travelling to the mountains, well over thirty years now, the ski press has told us to aim for altitude. Wengen has always been reviewed harshly, being too low and not purpose built. I suppose that might have been true before snowmaking took hold. We would have had a very poor season now relying on nature’s benevolence.

       From Tschuggen at midday 

However, snow cannon cover most of the mountain these days. The cable car takes skiers to the top in five minutes. We have the best ski home of any resort I have visited. The few holidaymakers here this week could not have wished for better conditions. Maybe we don’t all need to travel to Val d’Isere after all.

Another exceptional day brought 11,361 vertical metres in 23 lift rides and 60 kilometres travelled.

Best of days

The temperature dropped last night and it snowed heavily to the Lauterbrunnen valley floor.

It was bright this morning however and the day looked promising. It turned out to be the best of days, cold with blue skies and nigh on perfect snow. The cable car shortly after 9.30am was full again, but as with the last few mornings, the skiers were soon lost on Mannlichen. The gondola from Grindelwald was quiet.

                          New snow at Wixi

It has not been the best of winters for snow by a long stretch, but today would be hard to beat during many ski seasons. Mannlichen closes on Easter Monday, but the Scheidegg season has been extended to 30 April and the skiing may well hold out well until then.

A great day on the mountain brought 11,433 vertical metres in 23 lift rides and 61 kilometres travelled.

All change

It is low season now. It is easy to tell; when you recognise most of the people on the cable car and the gondola, it is safe to say that holiday makers are thin on the ground. For the last couple of mornings, the high street has been pretty much deserted at the beginning and end of the day and it has not been that much different on the mountain.

Yesterday and today were chalk and cheese, however. It is hard to believe they have been consecutive days. After yesterday’s near summer weather, it has been cold and has snowed hard for most of today. By mid afternoon, snow boarders were venturing off piste. Twenty four hours earlier and they would have been riding on grass and rock.

                           Skies clearing

Late on the skies cleared a little. The sun shone through a sliver of blue sky, framed by still threatening dark clouds. On Wixi, there was a layer of fresh powder on the piste, more or less untracked, and not a soul in sight. From the top of the chair lift to the bridge over the railway was the run of the season. Lower down, the clouds crowded in again and the snow was softer and a bit sticky, but it didn’t matter at all.

An exceptional day’s skiing brought 10,524 vertical metres in 21 lift rides and 55 kilometres travelled.

Three layer day

It was warm today. Three layers of clothing were more than enough. The skiing was very good early on, but south facing slopes softened quickly. The wind picked up as well. I hadn’t checked the forecast and it came as a surprise, though some foehn clouds this morning should have been due warning.

Honegg was closed by early afternoon. Eigernordwand was shut as well and even Arven was running slower than usual. From then on it was a game of chase the open lift. Honegg reopened, as did Eigernordwand, but then both shut again. All other lifts played the same tune. The wind was strong as far as Bumps T bar.

        Hazy morning sunshine

The sky was as fickle. It had been sunny early in the morning, but then a haze developed before blue sky and hot sun took over for the afternoon. Tomorrow should be cold with some snow, at least according to MeteoSwiss.

A day when conditions were varied, to say the least, brought 10,044 vertical metres in 24 lift rides and 57 kilometres travelled.

Another race day

It was grey again this morning, but our small weather station promised sun and so it turned out. By mid morning the clouds were clearing and there was a glorious afternoon in the sun with good skiing on still firm pistes.

On Mannlichen it was another race day, the Wengen edition of the Migros Grand Prix children’s races, which are scheduled every year about this time. Oddly though, I cannot remember the races happening since before the winter lost to the pandemic. Maybe the weather has interfered, but it does take a very bad day to stop them going ahead. The races did seem quieter this year. There were probably as many competitors, but supporting family members were thin on the ground. The tented village which used to spring up around the Berghaus, selling everything from hot bratwurst to slalom racing kit, was also missing. Maybe though the next Swiss downhiller has been found today.

                  From the Gummi chairlift 

Away from Mannlichen, the pistes were very quiet. They remained in great shape until late on. The run home was a little stodgy again, but from just above Innerwengen only. Tomorrow is forecast to be very warm, so an early start might be called for, if I can prise my head from the pillow. After that, there should be a few days with colder temperatures.

An excellent, sunny Sunday brought 11,200 vertical metres in 22 lift rides and 60 kilometres travelled.

New snow

It was snowing at breakfast time, big flakes falling quickly from a leaden sky. It had been snowing for several hours. The new stuff was wet in the village, but still welcome after several weeks of clear weather.

On the mountain, conditions were good. The cable car at 9.30am had been full, but we spread across the mountain nicely. The gondolas from Grund were quiet all morning. That most reliable of ski clubs, Bonigen, were on the hill, but not many others made the trip today.

             New snow above Holenstein

The wind was still blowing strongly at Eigerletscher. Despite all the new snow, the pistes were bare and scratchy until the tunnel at Fallboden. Later on the pistes were stodgy from Bumps T bar home, but it didn’t detract from a good day on the hill.

A welcome winter’s day brought 8,200 vertical metres in 16 lift rides and 46 kilometres travelled.

Is it winter still?

It was dark again this morning and raining in the village. The snow line was a couple of hundred metres further up the mountain, but after yesterday’s humdinger of a day following a poor start, I was hopeful for some good skiing.

However, the cable car was closed by the wind and seemed to have little prospect of opening.  That was a surprise. It was calm in the village and the birds, which come down the hill when the wind blows, were absent. On the tops though the wind was howling.  At Scheidegg only the Arven and Lauberhorn lifts were open when I arrived on the train. Eigernordwand opened for an hour soon after, but the strength of the the wind at Eigerletscher meant it inevitable that it would close quickly.

          Wind and cloud

For a couple of seasons now, March has brought a return to winter after a false spring. Will this happen again this year? The forecast is for stormy weather tomorrow, but with the wind dropping. It might be winter again. We might have some more snow, fingers crossed.

A very windy day brought 7,651 vertical metres in 30 lift rides and 49 kilometres travelled.