Very often you share the mountain with friends. Sometimes, the stars just don’t work out and you go alone. You revise your itinerary by scaling down the route difficulty. In the end of the day just enjoy the time in the Swiss mountains, observing the tracks and shadows around you. Some you create yourself, others are from fellow mountain dwellers of different shapes and sizes.
A mountain trip in Switzerland commences in the train station…
…where you are never alone. Even at 5 am in the morning.
Then you change to a bus, with daylight only remotely rising behind the mountains.
In the meantime, you have a cup of coffee at the local bar. Small macchiato is again mistaken for a milk soup, but a warm drink comes with a reason I guess. To compliment the breakfast.
This is where the first surprise kicks in. In the last couple of months, Swiss people and chit chat definitely didn’t go in the same sentence. We have asked a lot of question to locals in Lausanne. In various places: climbing gym, metro, train station, bars, restaurants, ski slopes. They were answered with the utmost curtesy but when the answer finished and voice died out, you are back to square 1: you are a foreigner and not even remotely an acquaintance of mine.
We interpreted this as a cultural meme, a way of behaving. A swiss thing. Something that comes with fondue and chocolate.
In this little bar, something magical happened. I was told wifi doesn’t exist here. ‘Je prefer parler avec les gents qu’avec la machine.’ A simple truth: talk to people, not machines. And so, out of nowhere, I find myself chatting to the cordial bar owner and a couple of locals as we have our 6 am coffee in the little premise by the train station. It turns out the ski traces I will see on my way up to Creux d’Euxanne will be the traces of the husband of my host. I learn about how the snow is deep, avalanche grade 3 but safe on this route (I know this, but we’re chit chatting in it feels good). Just before I leave I am offered to leave my things in the bar and pick them up when I’m done. No need. I just have a pair of sneakers that can travel with me.
With the first (meaningful) Swiss connection in months, a belly full of milk I head to the mountains. Bus, which is 5 minutes late (love it, feels like home), brings me to Plans-sur-Bex – a beautifully snow-covered hamlet with fresh air that wakes you up instantly and brings a smile to your slightly frozen face. It is -25.
The trail meanders through a forest
The moon is dancing above the treeline…
…the sun is warming the Lac Leman and adjoining slopes in the distance.
…the snow is plentiful…
…and the rabbits have finished their ‘promenade’.
Soon (4 hours later) I find myself on the Creux d’Euxanne…
…with stunning views of Pointe de Pret Fleuri and the remains of the Tibetan flag.
A few more steps up to nearby col…
…and then a short break with a view.
Inspiring cliffs on the other side of the big drop in front of me.
Then the time comes for a well earned downhill.
And finally, as I change my shoes and pack my gear, another friendly local comes over to say ‘Bounjour.’