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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This morning seemed the first really busy day of the season. There was a queue for the cable car, which has not happened since last season. Okay, the rules have changed and only fifty people are allowed in the building at any one time, but today, the rules were tested for once.
It was a Curate’s egg sort of a day, good in parts. Sadly, the parts didn’t marry up at all. On Mannlichen, the snow was good, but everyone who had waited for the cable car then went on to wait for the four man chair. Over at Scheidegg, it was quiet. However, the wind had done its work overnight and the slopes were scraped bare. On Wixi, hard moguls were linked by ice. The run to Innerwengen made up for things though, with great snow and more falling as dusk closed in early.
A day of long, cold queues and plenty of ice brought 5,320 vertical metres in 14 lift rides and 30 kilometres travelled.
Late yesterday the foehn wind was blowing. The forecast was for it to be bad still this morning, but the weather was calm when the Idle Skiers woke, with just a uniform grey sky. For once, the wind had been less fierce than expected and the damage to the snow was slight.
That might have been it for the day, but instead we had most of the weather which winter has to offer, with the aforementioned grey sky, some sunshine, heavy snow and a complete white out.
All day yesterday I was struggling with an old injury. Turns to the left were painful particularly, so bad that above the Gummi chair, I failed to make the turn at all and had a skis off, yard sale type fall which left me some distance below my skis. Last night, Mrs IS prescribed some Pilates exercises and though as painful as the injury, they worked a treat. Today, to my relief, was a normal skiing day, just about anyway. I have though an appointment with the physio in a few days.
A pain free day, more or less, brought 6,426 vertical metres in 13 lift rides and 33 kilometres travelled.
It was my turn to be off at the crack of dawn today. The cable car was quiet, as was the mountain for most of the day. The greyness of the sky may have kept people away, but it doesn’t seem the new year crowds are here, not surprisingly.
Fifteen years ago, I slipped on some ice outside the chalet and damaged the quadriceps in my right leg. It has been a problem ever since and for the last couple of days it has been a real nuisance, frankly. Today, I was staggering around the mountain like a wounded elephant. A trip to the local physiotherapist seems on the cards.
Still, the day had its high points, not least the fact that the Innerwengen chairlift is now open, making my favourite route back to the village accessible at last. Having said that, the foehn was blowing by the mid afternoon, so the slopes may have been scoured by tomorrow morning.
A day shortened by old wounds brought 6,410 vertical metres in 14 lift rides and 41 kilometres travelled.
This morning, the last of yesterday’s cloud and snow lingered on. When Mrs IS’s alarm went at 7.30am, it seemed still to be dark. She was off for the train to Scheidegg whilst I was still finding the light switches.
The day cleared quickly though, becoming bright and very cold. It being Saturday, the local skiers were here and the mountain was busy. It wasn’t like a normal Christmas holiday, when the local skiers are supplemented by thousands of holiday makers, but after the last few days, the pistes seemed full to overflowing.
It was the coldest day on the hill for a long time. In the afternoon, moguls were everywhere, each one occupied by a skier, and the well travelled parts of the pistes became slick and icy. Late on, the clouds returned to form a haze over the valley.
A day of cold queues and impressive moguls brought 6,751 vertical metres in 16 lift rides and 35 kilometres travelled.