Kandersteg Whiteout -Another Day on the WildSnow EU Tour


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 2, 2008      

We did get a bit of good weather in Switzerland, but most days were stormy and the avy danger never modulated. So we had to make do with lower angled backcountry skiing tours. Such can still be fun, and if you’re adventurous you can sometimes find a few extra turns by pushing through the storm and straying a bit from the beaten path.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
We took a cable car up to the Sunnbuel area from the historic Swiss resort and village of Kandersteg. Once there, nice to do our map prep in a gasthaus instead of a snow cave. With it being a weekday and stormy, the European crowds were missing — once on our tour we only saw two other people. Another day in the crowded Swiss backcountry…

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Yeah, it doesn’t look like much from this angle, but it worked. The terrain up here is actually pretty big, though this bump known as Unders Tatelishore was sort of like doing a sub-peak on a Colorado 14er. We’d have gone higher via a good ridge route, but the day was mostly whiteout backcountry skiing so this highpoint seemed like plenty.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Much of the south facing snow was corned up and avy safe, though frozen and hard to climb. I whipped out my trusty B&D ski crampons, which I’d already adapted to my Dynafit bindings, and the uphill was a breeze. I’ve been working at testing the B&D wide crampon offerings from Bill Bollinger, they’re a great compromise between strength and weight, but one of his previous prototypes seemed to bend too easily when walking across rocks. So Bill made me another set for this trip, with a shorter throat in the cutouts for the teeth. I gave them a good test and they seemed quite a bit better.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
This tour has some tricky maneuvering to avoid cliffs and avalanche slopes (the safe route is at times only a few hundred yards wide when the slide danger is high). We didn’t have a GPS track for the way up, but the light was good enough to Sherlock a route. To prevent worry about the return we “gyped” with our Garmin and we’re ready to track back at any time. Peace of mind, especially when responsible for the whole family.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Ethnic food at the summit? Anyone know who DJ Bobo is? I sure didn’t ’till our Swiss friends educated us.

Swiss backcountry skiing.
Another visit to God’s pingpong ball, something He created special for backcountry skiers to enjoy.

European backcountry skiing.
Lower down the light got better and some of the skiing was actually quite good. We were in a small forest where one could do a few laps — but it wasn’t THAT good. Better to just head back before we got too wet and cold.

European backcountry skiing.
Checking out the tube mustard at the gasthaus, after is was properly used for Louie’s wurst. In all, the day worked out fine as the clouds lifted a few times and we got some views along with the turns. This part of Switzerland is of course such a major skiing center you get an almost supernatural sense of the glisse that’s gone on here seemingly forever. Tours don’t have to be anything major. You just get out in it and the vibe is great. This day was like that.



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Comments

11 Responses to “Kandersteg Whiteout -Another Day on the WildSnow EU Tour”

  1. rasi April 2nd, 2008 1:10 am

    Hey guys,

    I’m glad you enjoy your Euro trip although the swiss weather does not always treat you as deserved. After reading your great blog for quite some time I just thought I’d jump into your comments and suggest a trip to my favourite freeride location which is no more than a few minutes train ride away from your current location: the Lauchernalp, Lötschental. In the Wallis, on the other side of the Lötschbergtunnel coming from Kandersteg it is a beautiful small skiing resort with a cable car up to over 3000m and incredible side- and backcountry. One of the most beautiful ski tours of Switzerland starts there, the Mammoth tour: you get up Lauchernalp by cabelcar, then earn your turns up to Gizzifurgge, descend to Leukerbad where you take another cablecar and descend back to Kandersteg. Amazing! If the skies clear up and you can find a local to join, this descend easily beats the famous Vallée Blanche descend from Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix 😉

    Enjoy the remaining time of your trip and some more pow Frau Holle (german reference ;-)) throws down!
    Ah, and I’m definately in for the English-German alpine dictionary!

  2. Lou April 2nd, 2008 8:23 am

    Rasi, thanks for the advice! We were planning on at least one Swiss backcountry skiing tour like that, but the weather and avalanche conditions were never correct. We’re back in Austria and will have to hit it next time were in CH.

  3. Marc April 2nd, 2008 11:58 am

    Hey Lou-
    What happened to the toe buckle on your Green Machines? I noticed in your trip photos it was missing. Did it break in the field? Would it have been repairable in the field with a t-nut? I’m curious if I need to beef up my repair kit before an up coming trip to AK.
    Cheers, Marc.

  4. brian cooney April 2nd, 2008 12:09 pm

    DJ BOBO? is he like a DJ they have here in France, DJ merde? love your weblog, keep on keepin on

  5. Lenka K. April 2nd, 2008 2:19 pm

    Hi Lou,

    the weather’s been a real bummer for most of Jan-present, either it’s snowing/raining, or it’s unseasonally hot. Plus, either of these phases never lasts more than a couple of days. Oh well, at least you’ll have good reasons for coming back!

    Enjoy the rest of your stay, Alpbach says 30cm fresh and counting … 🙂

    Lenka K.

  6. Lou April 3rd, 2008 12:31 am

    Marc, for me that fourth buckle is cosmetic. I don’t need the ego boost of looking down and seeing it, and I don’t need the weight, and I don’t need it catching on rocks and snowmobile running boards, so I remove it. I do that on all my 4 buckle boots.

  7. gaffer April 3rd, 2008 12:56 am

    I know of DJ Bobo from the Eurovision song contest 2007 where he preformed the song “vampires are alive”. Ita a fun song. Eurovision is a contest where each European nation can send a singer/band to perform one song, then people vote on which one they like American idol style with the added rule of you cannot vote for your home nation.

  8. Lou April 3rd, 2008 1:54 am

    Gaffer, website for that?

  9. Dave Johnson April 3rd, 2008 8:59 am

    DJ Bobo (see wikipedia) endorses banana-flavored milk…sounds very European.

    Looks like a fun family trip, Lou. I’d be interested to hear how you’re navigating the Euro; probably using your card and taking the hit when you get home and see your statement! I spent a day in Kandersteg a few summers ago and remember it fondly. We sprinted up to Lake Oeschinensee in running gear and were surrounded by Europeans in huge hiking boots and knee socks.

    I’m giving my new Green Machine/K2 Mt. Baker Superlight/Vertical ST setup a workout on a 4-day High Sierra loop out of Bishop starting tomorrow – I’ll send a report when I return.

  10. Lou April 3rd, 2008 9:46 am

    Dave, yeah, we’ve got the Capital One cards that don’t charge a conversion fee on top of rate, one for ATMs and one for day-to-day charges. That way we’ve got some float on the day-to-day and can keep paying off the ATM card from our bank account as we use it, so as not to incur interest since the ATM withdrawals start making interest right away. I also got some Euros and Swiss Francs before we left, just so we didn’t have to keep hunting for ATMs every time we did something. The biggest thing is that our budget totally did not allow hotels, so we’ve depended on the kindness of friends for lodging. That’s worked out well, and I expect we’ll have a few EU visitors coming to see us in Colorado (grin).

    We found that food prices in Switzerland, in the working man’s (sorry, person’s) grocery store, were about the same for us as at home. But in areas where we must use the Euro, we take a hit. Fuel in Switzerland was about 10% cheaper for us than when using Euros, after all the conversions and such.

    Food prices seem to vary huge, so looking at menus before entering resturant is important. Other suprise it that food up at higher altitude gasthauses is sometimes very reasonable if you order by price.

  11. Njord April 4th, 2008 2:47 pm

    How can you not know who DJ Bobo is… Scheiss Amis!

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