Out of the grey

The light was very poor again this morning. The skies were filled with cloud, it had been raining in the village and prospects for the day looked miserable. To top things off, the cable car was still closed.

I headed for the 9.16am train. It arrived as if escaped from a model railway, far too short for the platform and the number of people waiting. Inevitably, many of us were left behind, but with the assurance that the cable car would be open at 9.30am. The first car ran on the dot of the half hour, as promised.

At Mannlichen it was still grey and windy, but all the lifts were open. The weather looked set for the day, but suddenly the wind dropped away and the clouds began to clear.

     Clouds clearing

Within an hour, the skies were a clear deep blue. The cable car had been full, but the pistes were very quiet, icy to start with, but softening in the sun to give great conditions. From somewhere way out in left field, we ended up with a fantastic skiing day.

An unexpectedly brilliant day brought 11,433 vertical metres in 23 lift rides and 61 kilometres travelled.

The wind blows

The weather has turned today most definitely. At breakfast time, it was as dark as a January morning.  All seemed well though, until a text message arrived telling me that the cable car was closed by the wind.  I took the train to Scheidegg instead.  When I left Wengen, there were two lifts open at the top; on arrival, Arven only was running.  The Eiger Express from Grund was open also, but moving at a glacial pace.

                Grey and windy

The Lauberhorn lift reopened after an hour or so. The run from the top of Wixi back to Scheidegg was crisp and even, which was all to the good as there were not many other options available. On the way home, the piste to Innerwengen was yet again as good as it gets. The snow had softened in the warm wind, but there had been few skiers on the run and the snow was near perfect.

This evening we enjoyed a power cut, which took in Wengen, Murren and Lauterbrunnen. Power cuts are not uncommon here, but normally last a few seconds before the reserve electricity line cuts in. Today, we reverted to the nineteenth century for an hour. That might be the longest break in service since the summer of 2005, when the terrible summer rain (which brought wide scale flooding to much of continental Europe) left the village without power for 44 hours.

A day with few lifts open brought better skiing than could be expected with 9,635 vertical metres in 33 lift rides and 50 kilometres travelled.

A few clouds

It was bright and clear again this morning.  A few skiers showed up early on, but as the day went on the pistes became quieter and quieter.  Early in the afternoon a few clouds rolled in, but then they rolled out again and a weak sun shone until late in the day when some solid grey showed up for the run to Innerwengen.  The weather is turning finally. This evening there was some precipitation, which might have been icy rain or even snow.

                Hazy afternoon sun

There might be some snow tomorrow, or rain. It looks likely to be a windy day as well, so how the day will turn out is anybody’s guess. We can only show up for the skiing and hope for the best.

Yet another great day’s skiing brought 11,425 vertical metres in 23 lift rides and 59 kilometres travelled.

Will it snow?

This morning wasn’t as bright as for the last week and there seemed a chance it might be a grey day. However by the time I made it to the cable car, the skies had cleared and the sun was working its way around the Eiger.  A chilly wind was blowing at Mannlichen, and it became colder as the day went on.  It may be March, but still I made a mental note to buy some hand warmers at the Co-op this evening.  In the event, a mental note was not enough and I forgot all about them.

   Light clouds in the afternoon 

After a long period of sunshine there is the prospect of some precipitation in the next few days. Will it snow, will it rain or will the sun shine on? The weather apps tell different stories and as always only time will tell. On the other hand though, the weather apps for the U.K. have been pinging warnings to my iPhone promising most definitely snow for almost every place we know, even as far west as Polzeath in Cornwall. Again, only time will tell if it comes to pass.

Another great day on the mountain brought 12,246 vertical metres in 24 lift rides and 65 kilometres travelled.

Sunshine in Wengen

The sun continues to shine in Wengen.  It remains chilly though and the pistes are still in fantastic condition.  It is has snowed once I think since January, but we ski as if it were a vintage season for snowfall.  Just don’t try the off piste.

As anticipated, it has been quiet today.  A few more people were leaving this morning, but the cable car was without any queue at all (though full when it left).  There was a children’s race at Mannlichen and that accounted for most of lift traffic.  The day was as good as it gets.

      From near Bumps in the afternoon 

Late on the skiing to Innerwengen was sunny, empty of people and still extremely good.

A great day on the mountain brought 10,779 vertical metres in 21 lift rides and 59 kilometres travelled.


Saturdays in the Jungfrau Region are normally hectic. It is changeover day for many holidaymakers and on top of that, children ski without cost, so families and ski clubs travel here from far and wide. The village and the mountain hum with activity.

Early on today though there was an unexpected stillness. It was a bright morning, a little cold and with no breeze at all. Down here in the lower part of the village there were few people around and those who were stirring, mainly groups expecting a taxi to the station, waited in silence. The high street was quiet and the cable car as well.

On the mountain it looked likely to be a different story. Many day skiers now travel to Grindelwald and the gondolas to Mannlichen from Grund were full. For an hour during the morning, the pistes were busy.

       Sun catches the edge of the North face this afternoon 

When lunchtime came, restaurant terraces beckoned and most skiers rushed for a table in the sun. The mountain in the afternoon was as quiet as the village had been early in the morning.

A sunny, chilly and tranquil day brought 10,384 vertical metres in 22 lift rides and 55 kilometres travelled.

Against all odds

The last few mornings have seen cloud in the valley, but today the skies were clear and a sunny day seemed certain. So it turned out. There were more skiers around as the weekend approached, but it wasn’t exceptionally busy. The holiday skiers called it a day at lunchtime for the most part.

                                Towards Murren

It has barely snowed at all for several weeks, just one half way decent fall a few days ago. From Eigerletscher and other high points on the mountain, strands of snow highlight the marked runs. On either side, the snow is thin or nonexistent. However, against all odds, the conditions on piste are exceptionally good. The snow is crisp, not icy and still in first rate condition late in the day.

A memorable day’s skiing brought 11,286 vertical metres in 25 lift rides and 60 kilometres travelled.

More clouds

It has been a great day on the mountain, sunny, cold and not too busy. This morning it looked likely to be a different story. At 8.00am the cloud was thick in the valley, so heavy that I checked the Mannlichen webcam to be sure it hadn’t reached the top of the hill.

All was well though. My cable car emerged into glorious sunshine and blue skies just above the village. A good snow fall would be more than welcome, but there is nothing more dispiriting than a grey, overcast day.

                        Towards Arven

The pistes have been in great condition this last couple of days, which is a credit to the lift companies. February is the last month for snow making. The farmers expect to see their pastures in Spring, not lingering hard packed snow. Yesterday though, the first day of March, snow was still being made above Holenstein. Hopefully, the cows will not mind too much.

A great day on the hill brought 11,704 vertical metres in 24 lift rides and 63 kilometres travelled.

Foehn clouds

It was a beautiful, cold day on the mountain. The skies were blue and the pistes far better than might be expected after several weeks with only a single decent snowfall. This afternoon though the foehn clouds were pressing against the south face of the Eiger. A windy day isn’t in the forecast for tomorrow, but only time will tell.

I made it back to Wengen yesterday, enjoying a near perfect journey, with only a missed connection at Interlaken Ost slowing the trip. The express from Berne had loitered near Thun for a while and the train to Lauterbrunnen does not wait, but I was still in the village by early afternoon. Mind you, I had been awake since 3.00am and it was with relief that I climbed under the duvet last night.

                 Above Wixi chairlift, late on Tuesday afternoon 

The half term crowds have by and large gone home. The mountain is not empty of skiers, but the lift queues are short. It might be very quiet next week. It isn’t good for the village, but it makes the mountain a much happier place.

A short ski yesterday afternoon and a full day today brought 15,510 vertical metres in 32 lift rides and 84 kilometres travelled.

They’re here

There did not seem to be many holiday skiers arriving yesterday afternoon, but some time during the evening they slipped into the village.  This morning the valley was full of cloud, but with clearer skies in prospect further up the mountain.  At the cable car we had the longest queue since the Christmas holidays and whilst the mountain was much quieter in the afternoon, high season is here definitely.

There is not a good time to leave Wengen, particularly in the ski season, but the least worst is just now in the February scrum.  The Idle Skiers depart for dear old Blighty tomorrow.  It was supposed to be a flying visit, quite literally, with an onward journey to Calgary and then to Banff inked into the diary.  However, Mrs IS’s long term illness has returned with a vengeance and our travels will end in south west London.  Lightening is not supposed to strike twice, but we had to abandon the same trip last year at about this time.   Some things are destined not to happen and we won’t be risking a third strike out. 

            Skies clearing

For a while today there was near perfect skiing. The clouds had cleared, the snow was good and the holiday skiers had decided it was time for lunch. In the afternoon the cloud returned and for an hour or so this evening, back in the village, it snowed.

A day far better than that anticipated brought 10,280 vertical metres in 20 lift rides and 54 kilometres travelled.

This blog will now be putting its feet up until the end of February.