Wilder Schnee — Onward Through the Whiteout

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 25, 2008      
Dynafit backcountry skiing.
If you’re skiing in a Swiss whiteout you might as well enjoy a magnum of Toblerone. Amazing how fast you can inhale several pounds of chocolate.

Seems we’re in a fairly major storm cycle here in Switzerland. Thus, anything above timberline means traveling in a whiteout. More, avy danger is too high to ski anything very prone to slides. So the challenge is self-guiding to some areas that are perhaps lower angled and easy to navigate.

Yesterday dawned with blue sky, but we knew the clouds would drop soon so we got up to an alpine area near Adelboden known as Engstligenalp, where we could tour up to some peaks and enjoy various options according to weather. We got in some uphill before the views disappeared, then skied a few pitches of decent pow in a whiteout. Louie programmed the GPS before we left so we’d have peace about our return. But it would have been nice to see more as we were told that once up high the Jungfrau and other peaks dominate the skyline.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Per tradition in the higher Alps, we used some mechanized transport for the “approach.” In this case the cable car worked great and was quite affordable.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
The plan was to climb the Amertenspitz, an easy summit on a ridge to much higher peaks. Not particularly exciting, but survivable. We were on the ridge when high winds and a whiteout incentivized us to turn around. The ski down was actually quite good, albeit more of the ping pong ball interior view we’re becoming used to.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
At the cable car summit they were using this sled to haul folks around. I’ve actually found it interesting how frequently snowmobiles are used in Europe. In fact, many of our tours have started on trails used by the evil mechanized beasts, though usually only for commercial applications such as ranching or moving supplies up to a hut. Another Euromyth shattered?

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Reaching the alpine is like the jolt you get from three cups of espresso. Problem is, I end up wanting to climb every peak in sight and the caffeine buzz would wear off long before that became reality. The big bowl with the tiny buildings is Enstligenalp — they have some lift served skiing to the right in the photo.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
After the tour we had a snack at the ubiquitous restaurant. After sitting down we noticed that just behind Lisa was this interesting shot of the view we were looking at out the window. We kept our beacons turned on during the snack, though I did remove my Avalung. But perhaps that was a mistake.

In total, a fun day.


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2 Responses to “Wilder Schnee — Onward Through the Whiteout”

  1. Dongshow March 25th, 2008 12:23 pm

    amazing where they place buildings around there.

    I think the snowmobile thing is relative. After a winter in Alaska I swore snowmobiles didn’t even exist in France. Hell this weekend we had to even listen to fan boats skiing. But anyway the alps are such a heavily popluated area that your sure to see all sorts of action, snowmobiles included. I’ve still yet to see any recreational snowmobilers while over there though.


  2. cjw March 27th, 2008 3:19 pm

    That’s it for chocolate????

    We packed all this home during one trip:


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