Lauberhorn races

On a blue sky day, the mountain was pretty much empty. The snow was in great condition, better than it has been despite the cold, crisp weather of the last week.

The Lauberhorn World Cup should now be upon us, with races on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday, they were in doubt and then confirmed as going ahead. Today, they were cancelled. Apparently, illness amongst the course workers has caused the Cantonal authorities to act.

The village had already taken a big hit with the banning of spectators from the event. This is a further disappointment. The blue ribband of Swiss skiing, with the longest downhill course on the World Cup circuit, brings prestige and publicity, but not this year.

The sun sets on Wengen

The Idle Skiers were away fairly promptly this morning and on the cable car without any queue at all. Mrs IS headed for home at lunchtime, but I saw it through until the close of play. Snow is promised tomorrow.

A great ski day brought 10,708 vertical metres in 22 lift rides and 58 kilometres travelled.

Short intermission

Those of us with who have been around long enough will remember when television channels, the few there were, had occasional short intermissions between programmes. A film of a potter’s wheel was shown often. 

Well, this blog has had its potter’s wheel moment over the last couple of days. Frankly, I thought the appetite for ramblings about skiing and cold days might be limited as the world descends further into chaos and the pandemic does more than lap at the doors of our mountain hideaway.  Anyway, a few people have been kind enough to enquire as to the blog’s absence, so we are back in business.  

I have commented before on the ironies which seem to play out here on a regular basis.  This season really takes the biscuit. We have the coldest weather and the best snow for years.  More snow is forecast for this week, although, as always, we will believe it when we see it.

Yet through force of circumstance there is hardly anyone here to enjoy it.  Yesterday was the quietest Saturday I can remember.  Today, at about 4.20pm, I walked down the high street with hardly another soul in sight. 

The local businesses should be enjoying a boom time, but instead are struggling.  What the future holds for the village seems uncertain. When habits, such as expensive ski holidays, are broken, they are often difficult to reinstate. 

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                                                                Blue skies, no skiers

Today was remarkably cold yet again. The Idle Skiers enjoyed a great morning before skiing to the village at about 1.00pm. Mrs IS called it a day then, but I was back on the cable car for a second time around the Mannlichen-Scheidegg circuit. Late in the afternoon, I skiied alone to Innerwengen. Apart from a few people working on the racecourse, the mountain was empty.

Three remarkably chilly days have brought 27,356 vertical metres in 60 lift rides and 155 kilometres travelled.

Cold days

This has to be the most sustained period of cold weather in Wengen for many years.  This morning, at about 8.00ish, it was minus seven degrees on the balcony. On the mountain, it was much colder. 

The chilly start to the day resulted in few skiers early on.  The physical activity of skiing warms the body normally, but this morning was the opposite.  The wind chill was impressive.  

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Yesterday’s cloud and today’s clear skies

After yesterday’s cloud and light snow, it was a clear blue day. In the afternoon it was busier as some day trippers and the Wengen ski club ventured out. It seemed warmer as well, but it might be that I was numb to the cold by then.

Two bitterly cold days brought 16,950 vertical metres in 35 lift rides and 95 kilometres travelled.




On manoeuvres

It was cold again today. The pistes were in good order and quiet. The weekenders seem to have left for the most part, although the local holidays continue for a few days yet. The village is still well occupied though as the army, and its civilian public service equivalent, are here for a while.

The Lauberhorn World Cup weekend is on the horizon; in a little under two weeks, the races will be upon us. In a normal year, if such a thing exists, it seems hard to remember, it is a case of battening down the hatches as the village is invaded by race goers and party goers (probably more of the latter).

This year the races are scheduled to happen as usual, but without the attendant crowds. The army and others, including many volunteers, are working hard. There are fewer of them this year, as the task is much reduced. There is no need for spectator facilities and sponsors tents. The race courses need building and, in place of the public stand at Innerwengen, a very large marquee has appeared. Doubtless, the FIS need a place to call home.

New snow

It has not snowed for a while now. The cannons continue to work, but some of the real stuff would be good. The race organisers might not agree with that sentiment, of course.

Another sunny day from the freezer cabinet brought 10,381 vertical metres in 22 lift rides and 55 kilometres travelled.

Holiday time, still

It is holiday time still here in the Bernese Oberland.  Many people left the village on Saturday, but quietly, over the last couple of days, more have arrived for a few days in the mountains.  It has helped probably that some sunshine is forecast during the week, although accompanied by temperatures heading towards those of the average domestic freezer.

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                                                               Towards Lauberhorn 

It was quiet still on the mountain today, at least on the pistes. The toboggan trails were busier than during the new year week. The sun shone more or less throughout the day.  Over at Scheidegg, the wind blew yet again, closing the Wixi lift for much of the day and giving the Honegg piste a nice marbled finish, almost perfect for ice skating.  I doubt I have travelled between the Honegg top station and the bottom of the lift quite so quickly before.

In the village, queues were forming, firstly for the Central Sport ski room (only twelve people allowed at one time), though I do wonder where they had all been skiing, and also the Co-op (25 people allowed).

In Wengen, if nowhere elsewhere in the world, it has been a pretty good day, bringing 10,245 vertical metres in 21 lift rides and 58 kilometres travelled.

Lost in the clouds

Today, the cloud was low all day, forming a heavy fog in the village and on the mountain.  It lightened a little on the way up to Mannlichen and there was even a bit of sunshine at the top.  However, within a 100 vertical metres descent, the fog was back.

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                                                             From the Mannlichen chair

It was slow going for almost everyone.  Occasionally, a burst of sunlight would cut through the heavy cloud, but it was rare and short lived. Eventually, I made it through the gloom to Scheidegg and then had an exceptionally good ski to Innerwengen.

A day lost in the clouds brought 4,223 vertical metres in 10 lift rides and 31 kilometres travelled.

Best day

The sky was a uniform battleship grey this morning.  Again, we had the lights on whilst we ate breakfast.  The mountain didn’t seem promising, but there was no harm trying.

Not many people seemed to agree and I was straight on to the cable car, with no Saturday morning queue at all.  Near the Mannlichen ridge, we emerged into a clear blue sky.  The sun was making its way around the mountain, the snow was near perfect and there were a handful of people skiing. The usual local ski clubs had taken the day off.

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                                                                   From the Lager chair

It was the best day of the season so far, possibly as it was so unexpected. In the afternoon, the cloud made its way up the hill and Wixi was fog bound on the way home, but that was okay.

A day which turned out to be a real bonus brought 6,144 vertical metres in 15 lift rides and 38 kilometres travelled.

New Year’s Day

On any given New Year’s Day, Wengen is quiet.  The late night partying to see out the old year attends to that.  

Last night, the rockets were being carried home, along with beer and champagne from the supermarket.  So although the bars were closed, at homes around the village, I suspect that the end of 2020 was much the same as any other year.  In the Idle Skiers’ neck of the woods, the ordnance was heading skyward as always, but perhaps not as heavily as in years past. 

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                                                             Clouds in the afternoon 

This morning, contrary to the forecast, the sun was out and about. A quiet cable car led to quiet slopes and so it continued for the day. In the afternoon, the clouds rolled in, but it was a good start to whatever skiing 2021 has to offer.

The year started with 5,611 vertical metres in 12 lift rides and 33 kilometres travelled.

New Year’s Eve

This difficult year has signed off as well as possible for the skiers of Wengen. Early cloud gave way to sunshine and the skiing was good for those who made the effort.  It was bitterly cold again.  I am not sure if it was colder than yesterday; I had on as many layers as possible whilst still permitting movement, so my judgement was impaired slightly by plenty of padding.  

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                                                               The sun arrives at Mannlichen 

I doubt many people will miss 2020. Maybe the coming year will be better, we can only hope. For the Idle Skiers, tonight is an early night. Whether we will be off to the mountain promptly in the morning is yet to be seen. This evening, people were heading home with bags of rockets and the bombardment has started already. Usually, things calm down only in the early hours of the morning, so sleep may be at a premium tonight as on every New Year’s Eve.

The final ski day of 2020 brought 7,265 vertical metres in 16 lift rides and 38 kilometres travelled.

Happy new year everyone.

Winter’s bite

The day had a real bite to it.  The sun shone in the morning, but it didn’t make much difference to the temperature, which struggled to rise above numbingly cold. The snow on Mannlichen was in great condition though and as a bonus yesterday’s crowds stayed away. 

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                                                                       From Tschuggen 

The Idle Skier’s lunch stop was at the top station for the Tschuggen T bar. This old wooden building retains heat and the long bench along the side faces south, so it is about as warm a spot as there is on the mountain. With the restaurants closed it is more popular than ever.

Early in the afternoon the clouds rolled in with a certainty which meant the end of the sun. At Scheidegg, the skiers had called it a day by the time the Idle Skier exited the Gummi chair lift. Apart from a few members of the Wengen ski club, it was a solitary ski to Innerwengen.

A quiet and very cold day brought 7,289 vertical metres in 17 lift rides and 43 kilometres travelled.