Friday, 26 March 2010

Heliski at Verbier

Last year Linda gave me a gift voucher to go Heliskiing at Verbier and I'd been itching to try it out, so when we were staying not far from Verbier and the weather looked promising I booked myself on a flight.

When I turned up, however, there was a fair bit of wind and we stood around beside the helicopter waiting for the green light. It was getting quite frustrating but eventually we got the go and off we went!

We flew over the Verbier resort and looked at all the groomed runs, which looked so small from above, and on to Mont Rosablanche.

From Rosablanche we took some time to take photos of the view over the mountains and back at Mont Fort before clipping into our skis and snowboards and taking off down the mountain, through deep untracked powder!

It was exhausting skiing through the powder, both because of the altitude and because I simply am not used to this type of skiing, but it was amazing just being "off piste" and the weather was perfect for it.

After some time we continued to descend through the valley and the snow became more hard-packed, and we stopped for a sip of wine and a rest outside a cabin.

The rest of the journey down was really difficult with icey, chopped up snow, and through a narrow ravine into the main valley.

By the end I was exhausted, and was happy for the chance to have some lunch and a beer to celebrate making it down in once piece!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Chalet at Thyon

We've been in Switzerland quite some time now and the idea of staying in a Chalet has become something that we were really keen to do.

We had quite specific requirements; it had to be in the snow, it had to have a fireplace, etc. etc., so it took some searching before we found one that met our criteria. So it came that we spent a week at Les Masses near Thyon, in the Val d'Hérons, in Valais.

In fact it was a fantastic Chalet that even had a Spa and Sauna, with snow on the roof and a view over the valley to snow-covered mountain peaks.

We spent the week enjoying our surrounds and trying out snow-related activities like Skiing, Snowshoeing, Tobogganing, and Snow-blading. We even overdosed on cheese, managing two home-made fondues during our stay.

We spent one day in Grimentz in the Vale d'Anniviers, where we wandered around the burnt-wood chalets and snowshoed up to a restaurant for lunch at the top of the mountain.

Other days we went to Siviez, which has nice gentle slopes for skiing and hiking as well as being one the major gateways to the Verbier resort and Mont Fort.

We were amazingly lucky with the weather, having clear sunny days almost constantly during the week.

Since Chalets in Switzerland are rented from Saturday to Saturday, we opted to stay in a Hotel in Nendaz on the Saturday night to round out the week.

Nendaz is a nice little town with plenty of shops and restaurants and it is from here that we rented some gear to have a lesson in snowboarding.

It is from this that we discovered we enjoyed snowboarding quite a lot, which is a bit unfortunate given it is the end of the season!

Anyway we had a fantastic time, and in the end I think we would have been happy to have stayed another week!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Catching up with Friends in Zug

We met Richard and Renata when they were living nearby in the Suisse Romande and quickly became good friends, so it was really a shame when we moved to Nyon and they moved to Kanton Zug which left us a few hours apart - a long way in a country the size of Switzerland!

Last weekend we finally got ourselves organised to go and visit them in their new home in the town of Unterageri.

Unfortunately we managed to time our visit at the start of major roadworks on the motorway near Bern and ended up sitting for a couple of hours in traffic, which was not a great start, but we got there in the end!

Unterageri is a nice little town on the lakeside, where you can find yourself "out in the country" after just a short walk from the centre (one of the nice things about living in Switzerland).

On Sunday we planned to catch the lift to the top of the Mount Pilatus near Lucerne, but when we turned up the lift was closed due to wind which was really a shame because the sky was quite clear and we were looking forward to the view.

Instead we went for a walk around Lake Lucerne - not a bad alternative and a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon!

We were really happy visit Lucerne again because last time we visited we couldn't see the mountains around the lake that Lucerne is famous for. Most importantly, though, we got to spend time with friends!

Clear winter days

During Winter a haze hangs over the lake due to the temperature differential, so for much of the time we can't see the mountains across the lake and when it is a clear day we try to take advantage of it.

A couple of weeks ago we got a fantastic clear day and so we headed up to La Dole behind Nyon to check out the view.

We caught the lift to the top of the mountain, where there is an observatory, and from where you can look out over the lake and towards the French Alps.

After taking a few photos at the top, we quickly moved on because it was so cold and windy. We followed the ridge where the snow was windblown and formed amazing patterns.

From there we walked down the mountain through the trees towards Cuvaloup where we had a warming soup before heading home.

We're really lucky to have such beautiful countryside in our back yard!