Slow motion

It was clear this morning that the cable car was having some trouble.  At 10.00am, one car was stopped just above the nursery slope, with its counterpart, of course, suspended above the Mannlichen cliff face.  It had been stopped for a while, and remained broken for some time longer, I believe.

That left the train as the only option, but the down train heading for Lauterbrunnen was late, as was up train to Scheidegg. At the top, the Honegg chair was stopped as well.  It was a slow motion start to the day.

Many holiday skiers have left and local skiers were also thin on the ground.  Of the local clubs, only the Wengen ski club turned up.  It was colder still today, despite the brilliant blue sky.  The snow was in good shape for the most part and it turned out to be the best skiing day for a week or so.  

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                                       The Jungfrau in the evening

Some cloud rolled in during the afternoon, just enough to obscure the sun for a while. This evening, whilst the Europa Cup teams headed out of the village for their next race, it was clear, cold and crisp. Tomorrow is forecast to be cloudy, with snow promised for Monday.

A good skiing day brought 7,125 vertical metres in 20 lift rides and 35 kilometres travelled.

More than a crowd

It was sunny this morning and slightly colder again. The cable car wasn’t busy, but there was more than a crowd when I reached Mannlichen. The last of the holiday makers and a large number of local skiers combined to make the run to the four man chair uncomfortably busy.  

I moved on quickly and yet again Scheidegg provided the better snow.  It was quieter as well for a while, though numbers picked up late in the morning.  An early lunch provided some valuable breathing space in the afternoon, when everyone else decamped to the mountain restaurants. A brief further busy period ended quickly and for an hour or so, all was peace and quiet.

 

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                                   From Wixi in the morning

The alternate day theory applied again and it was icy until well into the afternoon, after yesterday’s soft snow. This was good news I am sure, for the Europa Cup GS run on the racecourse today. There are often two days of Europa Cup events on the weekend prior to the Lauberhorn proper. As I have mentioned in previous years, these races are normally watched by three men and a dog, provided the dog has been unable to plead a previous engagement. Today, however, in the afternoon sun, a decent number of spectators were gathered at the start hut.

Whisper it, but there is some snow forecast for next week. Fresh snow in race week is usually the last thing the race organisers want and it would be ironic after the long bout of warm weather and rain if this week’s final preparations were hindered by new snow. Realistically though, I doubt enough will fall for there to be a significant problem. I am sure the colder temperatures will be very welcome.

A decent day of sun with icy snow brought 6,690 vertical metres in 15 lift rides and 33 kilometres travelled.

The alternate day

It did rain last night and it was still drizzling slightly this morning. Mrs IS headed down the hill to Lauterbrunnen along the main route, along with a friend and her Labrador.  Reports are that it was like summer, with no snow or ice at all, even on the most sheltered parts of the path.  I headed up the hill, where it was still raining.

Snow conditions seem to turn up on alternate days at the moment.  Yesterday was icy, today was soft. After an hour or so the rain turned to snow at the very top of Mannlichen, but then blue sky turned up for a while.

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                                  Blue sky appears 

Mannlichen was very quiet and I stayed until early afternoon. It wasn’t any busier at Scheidegg. Wixi had an impressive mogul field though, despite the lack of skiers.

More than the occasional rock is appearing on the pistes now and I managed to connect with a couple of them. It was my own fault really. I had planned to catch the train at Wengenalp, but on the way home, I just headed down towards Bumps as usual without thinking about turning off for the station until it was some way behind me. I paid the price on the forest trail, which is now very thin and scratchy.

The U.K. press coverage of recreational skiing at the moment is all doom and gloom, foreseeing the end for many resorts. As is more than apparent from this blog, things haven’t been great this season in Wengen. However, some perspective always helps. We are still skiing. It is only two winters since the best season for thirty years. We have had poor snow years before now.

It is amazing what a quick burst of sunshine will do for one’s view of things. Another okay day brought 6,862 vertical metres in 16 lift rides and 42 kilometres travelled.

Is there hope?

Weather forecasting must be a thankless task, even in this age of satellites. The margin for error seems to be enormous, especially somewhere like the Jungfrau Region, where high mountains and local winds play havoc with computer forecasts.  

Most weather apps agree it will rain tomorrow, early on at least. Most also agree there might be a little snow next week.  Even MeteoSwiss, that most conservative of sources, has some snow forecast for Monday, the last day on which it is prepared to opine. There may be some hope, but things still look pretty grim.

 

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                                Towards the Jungfraujoch

Today was forecast to be sunny, but it never really happened. The sky lightened as the day went on, but that was about all. Mannlichen this morning was both tricky and busy, so I decamped early for Scheidegg. Yet again, the snow seemed better immediately after leaving the Gummi chair.

Wixi has had the best skiing this week, but it too was icy and difficult when I arrived today. It improved as the day went on, never soft but a few moguls starting to form. I am trying to keep a positive outlook in this blog, but the weather gods are making it hard work.

A skiing day that was never easy, but with occasional highlights, brought 6,632 vertical metres in 15 lift rides and 34 kilometres travelled.

Lost in the clouds

It was dark again this morning.  At 7.30am it seemed like midnight and we compared watches before deciding it was  time to get up really.  The valley was full of cloud and to top things off nicely, it was raining as well.

On Mannlichen things didn’t seem too bad.  It had snowed a little, the cloud was lighter and inevitably it was quiet.  There was no improvement as the day went on.  In fact it became worse as the cloud thickened and the snow softened.  

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                                            Holenstein, before the cloud thickened

In the afternoon there were few people on the slopes and it seemed a good idea to head home as well. Tomorrow should be better, though Innerwengen and the run to the village below Allmend are now closed. At this rate, we will all be skiing on a single mogul on Wixi.

A shortened day brought 5,341 vertical metres in 11 lift rides and 32 kilometres travelled.

How green is the valley

It was dark this morning to such a degree we had all the lights on during breakfast.  Despite the busy village yesterday evening, the cable car and the mountain were both quiet.  It did feel slightly colder this morning, but perhaps that was just wishful thinking.  

Cold or not, it was icy on Mannlichen.  That didn’t change much even as cloud turned to blue sky towards midday. The snow was better again at Scheidegg and the skiing on Wixi was very good.  Either that, or I have become so inured to poor conditions, I don’t notice any more.

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                                How green is the valley: the view from Bumps

The view from Bumps this afternoon, along the valley towards Interlaken, was truly dispiriting, with hardly any snow at all in sight. The army is back in town working on the racecourse. The top of the course was closed as additional catch fencing was put in place at the first bend. The course as it reaches Innerwengen was still open to everyday skiers. It is so soft it is difficult to see the downhill finishing there unless the weather changes drastically. It is not quite the worst start to the winter we can remember in our time here, but it is pushing it pretty close.

A day when I skied the same pistes in the same order as yesterday came up with unsurprisingly similar statistics, namely 8,179 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 45 kilometres travelled.

New Year’s Day

Wengen was quiet this morning, as it is always on New Year’s Day. An early start meant an almost empty cable car and deserted pistes.  It was nearly as warm this morning as yesterday, but the snow was better, slightly icy in fact. The absence of many skiers kept the pistes in good order for much of the day.

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                             From Tschuggen T bar

A few people turned up in the afternoon, reversing the usual order of things, with busy mornings and quieter afternoons, but it was not crowded at all. On Wixi, some moguls developed as the day went on and it seemed warm enough to be high summer.

The village this evening belied the idea that it might be a peaceful week to come; the high street was busy and more people were arriving with each train.

Another better than hoped for day brought 8,179 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 45 kilometres travelled.

Happy new year everyone.

New Year’s Eve

It was 7 degrees on the balcony at 8.15am and it certainly didn’t become any colder as the day progressed.  It was not a good start to what promised to be a busy day.  Not only is it New Year’s Eve, but a Saturday as well and I expected the mountain to be full to overflowing.  

It wasn’t the case though.  The cable car at 10.00am was quietish, as was Mannlichen, and the skiing stayed quiet all morning.  Mind you, the cable car was shut for a technical problem for a while at least, so that helped I am sure.  The gremlins were truly in the works today, with Lager closed as well until late morning.

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                                      Late morning on New Year’s Eve

The snow was very soft on Mannlichen and it was again with some relief that I reached Scheidegg. The sunny morning had turned gloomy and with most skiers wanting to reach home early to prepare for tonight’s bun fight, Scheidegg too was very quiet. Wixi, Bumps and the race course to Innerwengen were all studded with moguls. At Innerwengen, the large hills of snow which have covered the slalom course for the last few weeks have been bashed into something resembling a piste. The Lauberhorn weekend has now made it over the horizon and is bearing down on us quickly. Let’s hope the snow conditions allow it to happen.

A warm and quiet New Year’s Eve brought 7,663 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 45 kilometres travelled.

Some new snow

It did snow last night on the mountain, but in the village a freezing sleet made the paths treacherous this morning. A combination of new snow and sunshine added up to plenty of skiers on the mountain.  At Mannlichen the skiing was difficult.  The excess of skiers soon turned the new snow into moguls, leaving icy patches between.

I headed to Scheidegg and the snow at the top of the Gummi lift was better immediately.  It was never going to be an easy day though.  No sooner had I found some decent snow than the light faded.  

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                                          From Arven red run

The poor visibility did send most of the skiers home and all was peace and quiet on Wixi. By mid afternoon it was raining, but the light had improved. It was the best skiing of the day.

A mixed bag of snow and weather conditions brought 7,034 vertical metres in 17 lift rides and 36 kilometres travelled.

League of nations

The skiing here at the moment falls well short of its best, but many resorts are in a worse state sadly.  Accordingly, we have extra skiers, above and beyond our normal quotas.  German speaking (Swiss and high German), English and Dutch voices are common on the mountain on any winter’s day, but in the last week we have had French (not heard here to any great extent since Club Med closed a few years ago) and Italian added to the vocal mix.

Notwithstanding this league of nations, it was quieter on the mountain than it has been the last few days.  An indifferent forecast accounted for many local skiers, I am sure.

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                                  Mannlichen 

It turned out to be a good ski day. The weather was better than forecast, and the snow was good to soft, as the horse racers say. There might even be some snow tonight, though the chances are it will fall as rain in the village.

A day of parts, with sun and cloud, firm snow and soft snow brought 7,271 vertical metres in 16 lift rides and 42 kilometres travelled.