Switzerland Day# 4, Saas Fee

The next day we took the ski bus to Saas Fee. Saas Fee is a glacier way up high. Greater than 12, 000 ft to be exact. The Swiss don't mess around when it comes to getting to the mountain.

Of course the bus ride came after we rode the train. In Switzerland the trains are very smooth and on time. Rumor has it, "they beat BART."

I enjoyed the walk through the village and was the self appointed photographer so long as Tim carried my skis.

Hmm....I wonder if that cross will be deemed "unconstitutional. " Pardon me, but I think old things belong. Some might argue I ski too much and sight see to little, but with villages like this....it's the beast of both worlds. 

I knew it was worth visiting Saas Fee before boarding the first tram up. Was the skiing really good or was the village all the "to -do". 

Bands that play at the bottom of the slopes. A train that goes through a tunnel in the mountain to take skiers to the top  (no need to slow down the tram in the wind, say good bye to getting chilled riding the chair lift). But the skiing? 

Tim gives it a thumbs up!

Bruce and I track up the fresh stuff. I finish with a hop and a powder pig salute.

Once again I finish with the powder pig salute, or the hip high snowbank salute.

Bruce scores yet another set of fresh tracks. He may be a self described "old man", but he is sporting the latest and greatest in ski design. Rocker bottoms by Rossignols. You should see the graphics. I think my mother in law needs to keep an eye on Bruce. Soon he'll be growing his hair long, getting tattoos, and smoking funny stuff while waiting his turn to get big air in the pipe. Skis....just another gateway drug.

Another one of my favorite runs at Saas Fee.  The iPhone will never do the Alps true justice, but this clip captures just a hint of Alpen Glow. We loved Saas Fee so much we actually came back for days 5 and6.

"I'm stuck" 
For real! The snow was so deep that when the run flattened out you needed to hop in somebody elses track or best case scenario you get stuck. I'm not really a big mountain, deep snow girl by trade so I am sort of learning these things as I go.

In doing so I have developed the following questions:

If you loose your ski in snow that deep, will you ever find it?

If you fall into a crevass, will anybody notice you are missing?

The answer to both I believe is "Not on a powder day?"

This is by far the deepest snow I have ever skied in. I think this is the kind of snow people pay gads of money to access via helicopter. I actually nervous skiing in snow this deep. Every turn would throw snow into my eyes and honestly my lungs. You'd think I would draw on my years of skiing to keep my cool. Actually, I kept thinking, "Thank goodness I became a triathlete and learned to swim".  I kept visualizing a snorkel. 

I am usually quite lame, keeping my skis on the snow and not getting any air, but when the landing is 6 feet of fluff I'll let my hair down. The trouble with landing in snow that deep is you loose all your speed ,well at least I do and it's a heavy hike to get going again. I figure I need to expend the calories in order to negate my Caotina drinking. 

This year, the three of us got avalanche beacon with finders. A lot of ski jackets are made with beacons in them now and that helps people find you, if they miss you. Somebody has to have a finder, so I think it is wise to keep have a buddy system just in case. Why does this so remind me of the clapper commercial? The one where the old lady who falls and screeches "Help, I have fallen and I can't get up."

Switzerland has some steep runs. You can see I am sliding my skis sideways so I have more time to see what was coming and to ditch some speed if needed.  

Switzerland is an awesome place to ski but there are some key differences from skiing in the U.S. Basically "nobody wipes your butt". Things like cliffs, creeks, and cornices do not come with 82 caution signs and red tape. I guess , skiers are expected to use their brains. Getting on the lift there are no attendants to direct the flow of traffic. I'm not discriminating, the New Yorkers do it at Killington, but the Euros cut in line and sometimes they shove when getting onto the tram. Lift ops sit inside a booth at the bottom of the chair lifts and don't grab the lift for you. Poma lifts are common on top of the glaciers. They are actually great as they don't slow down in  high winds. They go multiple times faster than those in the U.S. They are completely unmanned. So if you have never ridden one have a friend look for the red emergency stop button while you get on for the first time.  

Another key difference is the selection of skis. It is not uncommon to see really old straight skis and rear entry boots in Switzerland. The Swiss seem to either be very extreme, mountaineering over the top of the glacier and out of the resort or very refined and skiing textbook style turns down groomers. I'm not in the ski shape I once was but I have to say softer, wider skis hide a lot of my imperfections  The technology has made skiing the ungroomed 1million times more fun and I don't even have the latest. The off piste is so much fun. If venturing to Switzerland, I would totally recommend equipment geared for off piste/ all mountain because you will be very limited with just groomed runs. They get icy in a hurry and are more crowded. The majority of the resort is ungroomed terrain.  In the U.S. I think renting demo skis is an awesome plan vs skiing old skis or buying new and skiing infrequently. However, in Switzerland the rentals and demos seem to all be carving skis. 

1 comment:

idropboys said...

So much fun....great recap and quite funny (as ususal) Go Jen Go!