Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday 8 March 2024

Friday 8 March 2024 - A Walk to Daubensee

After changing our minds several times we decided to forgo cross country skiing in favour of a walk to some new views. It proved to be a wise decision. Jonathan and Susan joined us on the number 241 bus after Sue and I had returned our skis to Grossen Sport. It was nowhere near as busy as yesterday. J and S got the cablecar after ours as they didn't have pre booked tickets (ours came with the package).
We soon headed off along the shared trail on which Sue and I came to grief yesterday. Walking was much easier. After yesterday's calm conditions, today's 'blue sky day' brought with it a cold strong wind that was in our faces to varying degrees all the way to the terminus of our exploits, overlooking Daubensee, a lake just below the Gemmi Pass. In days gone by I've camped near here.

Looking back at the Schwarenbach Hotel

The view down to Daubensee

Descending back to Sunnbuel

There were very few people cross country skiing. Conditions were tough, with spindrift filling some of the trails as soon as they were groomed. We were lucky to have yesterday's perfect conditions and would have found the same trails both boring and tedious had we gone that route today. Our walk was about 6 km there, with about 450 metres ascent, and we returned the same way.

We stopped three times as the wind blew us back to the Sunnbüel cablecar. First at a high hotel, the Schwarenbach, for coffees and hot chocolate, then on a corner on the path that was sheltered from the wind, where we had enjoyed elevenses on the way up. It was here that Jonathan's prized Waterstones bag blew away, and Sue discovered an accident in her rucksack. The eggs must have been 'boiled' in cold water! What a mess...

A bit further down we found a sheltered sunny spot under the eaves of a farm building. This was to be our tea and cheese break, but sadly the tea had disappeared. There should have been half a litre left in the flask. Where it disappeared to remains a mystery.

After that it was an easy walk back to Sunnbüel, where the next cablecar linked nicely with the hourly bus back to Kandersteg and the delights of the hotel's sauna.

Back at Seiler's Vintage Hotel

We joined forces with Jonathan and Susan for the last of Nico's excellent four course meals, a most enjoyable way of concluding the week, as we have an early start for tomorrow's journey home.

[Nothing more to report - the journey went smoothly, ending on a long tram ride from the airport.]

Thursday 7 March 2024

Thursday 7 March 2024 - Skiing from Sunnbüel

                               Another early morning view from our hotel room

At last, a blue sky day above fresh snow. Apparently they have been waiting for this since last December, so we may have just enjoyed the best day of the entire season.

Not unexpectedly, the bus to the Sunnbüel cablecar and the cablecar itself were heaving with people. But once we were up at Sunnbüel (1936 metres) and away from the shared tracks, we had a most enjoyable cross country skiing day on freshly groomed pistes with fewer people than we see on the tracks in Gatinau Park, where we've sadly been unable to visit since 2020.

Sue and I successfully skied down a steep, pristine piste before making our way up to a track shared with walkers and snowshoes. Here we failed to comprehend the steepness of the track and managed to wipe out in front of the hordes. Soon afterwards Sue managed a face plant that sadly broke her sunglasses.

But after that it was fine, and we enjoyed the trails, contrived though they are. A small bench in the shade proved a good venue for elevenses, and a 'lap' of the trails later, for lunch.

On our return in the cablecar we passed through a band of cloud and arrived at the bus stop with 50 minutes to spare. So we decided to walk 1.5 km then ski 3.5 km on the village trails. After already having skied about 13 km on the high trails, this was hard work. The snow at village level is melting fast, making the skiing quite tricky.

A view from near our hotel

Back at base by 4:30, there was time for a swim for Sue and a sauna for both of us before aperitifs were served prior to an excellent gourmet five course meal.

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Wednesday 6 March 2024 - Snow in Kandersteg

This morning's view from our hotel room

Snow. A decent amount overnight, continuing with light snow today. We decided that as the conditions are quite different to yesterday's we would walk around Kandersteg again. Others chose lengthy bus journeys.

The cloud was down so we had no views of significance, the mountains being well hidden. Starting with a 3 km 'red' loop to the Oeschinensee cablecar station, we followed that by taking the 'green' route to Höh, going in the opposite direction to yesterday and opting out of the pink signs in favour of following the panoramic route. Just for a change; lots of viewpoints but no actual views.

Elevenses were enjoyed on a bench on the way up, and we had lunch on the same bench as yesterday.

After this we picked up the 'blue' trail to Filfalle and the scout camp, from where it was an easy walk home through the snow. 12 km with 280 metres ascent.

After a bit of R&R we toddled off to Grossen Sport near the station and picked up the skis that had been ordered for us. Good equipment - it looks brand new. A contrast to our experiences in Estonia and Poland.

Then we found a ski trail from the hotel and enjoyed a 2.5 km warm up. Sue stayed upright but I fell over twice. It's easy to fall, not so easy to get up again! It's four years since we last skied.

Tonight it's our special five course dinner, featuring a cheese fondue. I'd been wondering what would happen to all the half eaten loaves of various different breads that we have at breakfast time.
[They weren't used - lovely fresh bread for the fondue.]

Tuesday 5 March 2024

Tuesday 5 March 2024 - Around Kandersteg

Rain. The cloud was down all day, but thankfully the rain eased between 10 am and 3 pm, offering us the chance of a dryish 13 km walk with 300 metres ascent. We took the pink (winter walking) routes, first to the Sunnbüel cablecar station, then back on the west side of the valley, over Höh. As pleasant a walk as we could choose in the circumstances.

Ancient hotel

We passed an ancient hotel, and the end of a 14 km railway tunnel that was built between 1906 and 1912. It's a busy route for freight, passengers and cars, saving a journey of several hours over high mountain passes.

Lunch was enjoyed on a bench outside a barn, where we especially enjoyed the slabs of cheese from the breakfast buffet, and listened to a medley of songs emanating from the pine forest:

Great tit, willow tit, coal tit, Long-tailed tit, Marsh tit, red crossbill, goldcrest, tree creeper and more.

There were wild flowers as well, amongst them:

Ling, white butterbur and the bright red berries of wall cotoneaster. 

We were back before 3 pm, giving us plenty of time to enjoy the sauna and contact Headwater, the part of Exodus who have organised this week for us, to discuss ski collection and any appropriate refunds given the unsuitable weather for skiing. There is one location nearby where skiing should be possible on Thursday and Friday, so watch this space!


Monday 4 March 2024

Monday 4 March 2024 - A Walk from Adelboden

Coffee in Adelboden

We woke to find Kandersteg engulfed in fog (cloud). So another slow start, on this relaxing holiday. Clearly our 6 day ski pass/hire wouldn't all be needed as today was unsuitable, especially as the guys who were due to provide the skis had decided it wasn't worth opening their shop today. What a contrast to my previous winter visit.

There's a Ramblers group of nearly 20 here, and another 'Headwater' couple. We all get the same four course menu with a choice from three 'mains', but only the 'Headwaters' have the added privilege of being allowed to raid the breakfast buffet (with its great selection of breads, cheeses, etc) for our self constructed packed lunches.

Anyway, we saw all these people set off for the 10 o'clock bus to Adelboden, and after a bit of thought we decided that was a good plan for the day. We missed the bus by some way as we hadn't started to get ready. However, Sue spotted that there was a train at 10:15 that should catch up with the bus in Frutigen. And so it did. The Ramblers had got off there, but the other 'Headwaters', who turned out to be Susan and Jonathan, from London, were still there. After independently finding coffee shops we finished up heading in improving weather in the same direction and spent the day with this like minded couple.

We had all chosen an obvious route for a day walk, namely a descent from the town to the valley, which we then walked up as far as Unter dem Birg (1405 metres). The only way of proceeding further from here is to take a cablecar. We enjoyed our excellent Seiler's Vintage Hotel packed lunches on a bench in view of frozen cascades down a wall of rock.

Then we walked back to Adelboden, past verges rich with Oxlips, and beautifully coloured bracket fungi, with ten minutes to spare before catching the 3:51 bus back to Kandersteg, a nice hour long journey.

A view near Adelboden

Swim and sauna for Sue, hot shower and blogging/reading for me, and hopefully another excellent four course meal to follow. 

Today's walk was about 13km, with 300 metres ascent, taking about 3.5 hours.

Sunday 3 March 2024

Sunday 3 March 2024 - A Walk to Oeschinensee

We rose late, and again admired the views from our windows (above).

Our hotel in Kandersteg - Seiler's Vintage Hotel

Given that afternoon rain was forecast, we decided to delay sorting out cross country skiing, and after a  buffet breakfast we headed up to Oeschinensee via a steep zigzag path that bypasses Port.

There were good views from the ascent.

Coltsfoot, Hepatica and Butterbur were sprouting freely, together with Heather (Ling), being unconstrained from their usual snow cover.

Eventually the path contoured round to a cabin/barn, where we enjoyed elevenses in the sunshine on the calm day.

Just a handful of other walkers were seen. We ignored a 'Path Closed due avalanche risk' and we saw no sign of such a risk.

After a while we found some snow and some deserted pistes. At our highest point, before descending to Oeschinensee, we encountered an official looking chap who informed us that everything was closed today due to high winds. So that's why the pistes were deserted. We had got this far in blissful ignorance of either the closures or the winds, though we had wondered why the cablecars weren't working.

What could we do? Well, perhaps go down. Our official wasn't sure about that as the rescue service wasn't operating and we might fall on the ice...

Eventually we just set off, closely observed by a hovering eagle, and admired the views over Oeschinensee.

Then we returned easily down a snowshoe trail (no snowshoes needed today, and Sue only fell over once on the ice) and back to base for some R&R after our 11 km walk with 650 metres ascent, taking 4¼ hours.



A view from near Oeschinensee

Descent (not on the pistes but on separate footpaths intended for snowshoeing)


As you can see, I've been unable to insert the pictures in the correct places. I'll have to revert to just a few 'header' pictures and some text for the rest of this trip, adding more images when I get home and our computer is mended. 

A Kandersteg meadow on which there should be snow and a cross country skiing route marked out