Or more precisely, what does it look and feel like to organise and do a solo ski touring trip to some of the 3.000m high peaks in Swiss Alps?
When you say Switzerland you either think of banks or the mountains. When I think of the later, I also think freeriding or ski touring. So, being lucky to spend 2 months living in Lausanne, it meant going out for a couple of ski touring trips.
Now, this adventure did not come easily.
Firstly, December here in Switzerland felt like Easter. Spring-like hikes in short sleeves up to 2.400m with only patches of snow on thick layers of grass. In the mean-time, we get reports that it's minus 10 in Croatia. Insane.
Ski touring trip planning
Finally when snow did fall, where to start? In the mountaineering shop, there is a 3m long shelf full of ski touring guide books. All in perfect french or in german. Then there is a whole container of topo maps of every corner of endless Swiss mountains. Add to this endless list of GPS tracks online. I calculate that I should live here for 2 years to do and see all there is out there. And probably live in the trains for a couple of months.
It doesn't help that we can see the white mountain tops from all around the city and your balcony. Your brain starts feeling like a fondue - melting all the trip information into the thick craving for snow to process.
Little by little the list get narrowed down to a few spots.
Filter out the unreasonable train distances/prices.
Then filter out the less cool 'cabanes'on the route.
Skip the iceberg crossing as a solo tourer.
And finally, you end up with one or two places from my freeride-touring wishlist. Just in time for new snow to process. I head to the Bernese Alps.
Bernese Alps ski touring trip
Here in Switzerland, everything works. Meticulously. As you might expect. So does the train-bus-ski lift grid. Add a croissant, a coffee, and a ski touring adventure begins.
Two and half hours later, here you are. On the corners of the Ovrannaz ski resort, 1.998m high, starting the walk up.
The valley of Euloi with Tita Seri peak sticking out in the distance. These guys are here before me. I woke up at 4.30 to arrive in time to catch the first lift. I am thinking, how did they end up in front of me?
As befits a mountain country – just two days after the snowfall, skitrack signatures lay in the fresh snow.
A steady uphill section along the Cine de Dillon. Two more ski tourers some 40 minutes behind me. Sleep longer, walk faster.
Even the snow tracks seem to follow some grid and perfectly align with the ridge of Col de Fenestre.
Swissness in action. Very much like the snow tracks, the train system, polite explanations of Swiss citizens, here is the meticulously maintained Cabane Col de Fenestre.
...and the views over Mont Blanc in the distance and Lac Sup de Fully covered with snow below.
After the Cabane, route continues along the ridge.
And the final section is a scenic walk.
The views open to the West. Through the narrow couloirs, it is the steep rocky side that reveals the fog around Rhone valley some 2.000m below.
At the top, there is the merry group of 9 of us, most of the who climbed on their own.
Some dude at Grand Dent des Morcles 2.968m with Lausanne and Lac Leman in the back, covered in thick fog. :)
From there you see the trees, the rocks, the snow and the clouds. All mashed up to look respectful and magical (unless you are Swiss, and you look at it every weekend).
You can easily have your snack for hours and just look at the mountains around until you had your full. Observing the two girls heading down.
A downhill ride that follows the line of a 400m cliff drop.
You know, what's really important is hard to put in words. :)
The final 500m walk back to the bus station.
Jus here, I realise that I definitely love the Swiss Alps (knew that already, but it's nice to be conscious of the reminders), but I realise my appreciation for the Swiss commute system. And the great boulangerie that come with it.
Back in the train, the thick fog clears out for a minute, revealing some of the dents (teeth) of the Grand Morcles.
And it soon becomes grey and foggy. As they say, the sweet is not as sweet without the bitter.
‘Moving your limits’ isn’t necessarily about the highest mountains, deepest canyons or oldest ruins. But it is about great adventures. It’s about that constant pursuit of world’s secrets – cultural as well as natural. It’s about how we move in nature and raise our expectations about each and every place in the world - moving our mental and physical limits on the way.