Spring

Without any doubt, today was a glorious Spring day. The sun shone, the snow sparkled in the reflected light and it was warm for the first time in weeks.  

There were a few more people around to enjoy the day – the 9.30am cable car was at its revised capacity of fifty people – but measured by any other winter it was extraordinarily quiet still.  

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                                                              Blue sky over the Berghaus

Mrs IS was on the mountain later due to Pilates commitments, but she arrived to find the skiing at its best.  In the afternoon, the lower part of the Wixi piste was softened by the sun, but there were not sufficient numbers on the slope to create much of a mogul field. The downhill course to Innerwengen was as good as it gets .

Another great day brought 10,060 vertical metres in 23 lift rides and 56 kilometres travelled.

 

Avalanche season

It has snowed for what seems an eternity.  It feels like winter on the mountain still just now, despite a sunny morning, but it will be warmer over the next few days. Yesterday, an avalanche hit the far side of the Eigernordwand lift, on the way to the White Hare off piste run.  Skiers, or boarders possibly, were caught up in the falling snow, but all survived.  It is likely to be the first of many avalanches over the next few weeks as the largest amount of snow for many years meets Spring weather  

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                                                               Early sun, distant cloud

On a great morning for skiing, I was away early to the warm sunshine on Mannlichen. As the day went on, the clouds scooted over the mountain yet again and the temperature dropped dramatically.

A sunny morning and a chilly, cloudy afternoon brought 10,601 vertical metres in 23 lift rides and 57 kilometres travelled.

Sunday crowds

It is not often that the day trippers on Sunday outnumber those on Saturday, but they did this weekend. The day dawned unexpectedly bright and the skiers came to enjoy the sun. The weather changed by mid day and the mountain emptied accordingly. It is funny how people remember Monday is a working day when the weather turns.  

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                                                             The sun slips away

Back in the village shortly after 4.00pm, the roads were empty and the Co-op, as I went by the door, seemingly deserted also. It looks like another quiet week in Wengen.

Yet another cold day brought 8,511 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 45 kilometres travelled.

Thirty one years

It was a mix and match sort of day. The sun shone, the clouds rolled in and then disappeared again. It snowed for a while, just to show that winter is not over yet. Mrs IS timed her arrival on the mountain at the worst part of the day for the second time this week.

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                                                               Sun and cloud. 

This weekend marks thirty one years since we first set foot in Wengen.  It was a beautiful day back in 1990, with not a hint of snow in the village. At a time long before snow making, skiing below Wengenalp was more or less impossible, which seems hard to believe on this blisteringly cold day three decades later. 

A cold, cold day brought 8,879 vertical metres in 19 lift rides and 52 kilometres travelled.

After the storm

This morning dawned bright and sun was edging its way around the mountains as the Idle Skiers foraged for breakfast.  The forecast from yesterday was bettered by some distance.

Still though it was quiet on the mountain. The 9.45am cable car took fourteen people to Mannlichen. The skiing was as good as it gets and the temperature very cold for any time of year, never mind close to Spring.  

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                                                            The Eiger in the afternoon 

Late in the afternoon some clouds rolled in and for a while it snowed on Wixi. The sun picked up again on the way home. In Wengen, I collected a parcel at the station. A few weekenders were arriving, but nothing like the crowds you might expect for a snow packed couple of days in March.

A cold, mainly sunny day brought 10,290 vertical metres in 22 lift rides and 55 kilometres travelled.

Brief interval

This morning, it looked as if the stormy weather was coming to an end. It was still snowing at breakfast time, but there was blue sky over Interlaken and it was heading in our direction. By the time I reached Mannlichen, prospects looked good.

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                                                         On Mannlichen in the morning 

For an hour or so, it was a great skiing day. The bad weather wasn’t finished yet though. The sunny period turned out to be a brief interval in an ongoing drama of heavy snow. Mrs IS arrived at Mannlichen just as the weather reverted to type.

The skiing conditions are fantastic, but a little more visibility at least would be welcome. There might be a hint of sunshine in the morning, before the weather closes in again.  

The day brought 7,702 vertical metres in 16 lift rides and 43 kilometres travelled.

The most snow?

I was asked today if this winter has seen the greatest snow fall the Idle Skiers have experienced in Wengen. I almost said yes in answer, but then remembered the winter of 1999, when the Cafe Oberland was destroyed and the owners killed. That year, the top of the village was cordoned off for some time by reason of avalanche risk from the Mannlichen cliff face. A risk which eventually became reality when the old cable car was hit a couple of weeks after the tragedy at the Cafe Oberland.

So this winter doesn’t come close really. However, it has snowed for days on end now, save for the occasional interlude. I have just checked on the balcony and it is still snowing lightly despite some late afternoon sunshine.

 

                                                              On Mannlichen, between snow falls 

The various groups of Polish skiers were on the mountain again today, determined to make the most of their week in the Swiss alps. They haven’t had much sunshine as yet, but perhaps tomorrow.

Another day of heavy snow brought 6,301 vertical metres in 14 lift rides and 40 kilometres travelled.


Orderly queue

It continued to snow overnight and most of today. The current weather is stretching credulity for March, with three days of almost continuous, heavy snow.

This morning early on, the uphill transport was closed due to avalanche risk. However, the Mannlichen cable car was posted as opening at 10.00am. An orderly queue formed outside the doors. In the end, the first car pulled out the station half an hour later than advertised and took fifty people to a mountain of fresh snow. The sun appeared again for a while, as it has done in the last few days, periodically but briefly.

                                                    Mid morning on Mannlichen 

Inevitability, the cloud and snow returned. This afternoon on Wixi, visibility was again measurable in inches. Another day for the winter record books brought 6,493 vertical metres in 15 lift rides and 40 kilometres travelled.

New day, more snow

It is very quiet in Wengen this week.  On Mannlichen this morning, however, the sound of Polish voices could be heard again on otherwise deserted pistes. Two large groups, a ski club and a party with a travel company, made up most of the people on the hill.  Austria is their usual ski destination, but not this year of course. Maybe they will come to like Wengen and return again next year.  The village could do with the business.

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                                                  On the way to Grund

It snowed overnight and has continued to do so all day. The boundaries between the pistes and the rest of the mountain are blurring under the weight of new snow.

Another winter’s day brought 6,819 vertical metres in 12 lift rides and 39 kilometres travelled.

Day of days, briefly

The 9.45am cable car took eighteen people to Mannlichen. The wind had died away overnight and heavy snow arrived in its place. It hadn’t felt very cold on leaving home, but on the mountain we were back in January.

As I clicked into my ski bindings for the first run of the day, the sun broke through the heavy cloud. Briefly, it seemed like it might be the day of days. Then the cloud returned and but for a short respite in the early afternoon, that was that.

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                                                          Near Honegg

On Wixi, the snow was as heavy as any time during this winter.  It seemed to become still colder as well and it was a five layer day without doubt.  I was wearing three layers and was cold to the bone on arriving back in Wengen. 

A January day in the middle of March brought 7,934 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 44 kilometres travelled.