January 25, 2014
After our experimental foray on the snowy slopes of Austria we decided to jump into the sport of skiing with both feet. We took advantage of a nice deal that the SBB puts out that combined a rail pass, ski pass and a discount on rental equipment, all at a hefty discount.
We left the apartment at the ungodly hour of 6:20 am, a light crystalline snow floating gently under the street lights. We caught the tram to the bus station, met up with our friend Bob and took our seats the train. The train left on time at 6:59 (I love Swiss Rail!) and after a quick change in Spiez and moving to a bus in Frutigen, we arrived in the charming town of Adelboden at 9:30. The sun was shining brilliantly in the blue sky and the mountains had a fresh layer of snow on them. It would be perfect conditions for skiing.
Waiting for the tram
The streets of Adelboden
Adelboden-Lenk is by far the largest ski resort I’d ever had the chance to explore and it was a challenge to sort out the various runs and lifts. We boarded our first gondola with a nice guy from LA who was visiting Switzerland for business, and this was his second day on the slopes. He gave us some suggestions on good runs and how to navigate around the various areas. The gondola passed through two stations before we got off at Sillernbühl, a glorious plateau of snow overlooking acres of skiing possibilities. It was time to ski!
Map of Adelboden-Lenk
The top of Sillernbühl
Early morning views
The difficulty ratings on the slopes was slightly different than the one I had learned on in high school. In the States, there are green/blue/black runs, with sometimes a “double” to let you know that it is at the far end of the skill scale. Here, the colors were blue/red/black, with no apparent gradations. I found out later that there is a green level, but Adelboden has only one green slope, and we never found it. Dan and I stuck to the blue runs.
Heading further up the mountain
Fresh snow laced with tracks
The first run was an eye-opener, it being the longest run I’d ever been on in my life that just went on and on. There were numerous other skiers and snowboarders zipping by, obviously comfortable with their surroundings. We reached the next set of gondolas and set Bob free. He is a good skier and wanted to explore the red/black slopes that marbled the trail map. Dan and made our way to a likely look blue and started our day.
We made a few runs, checking out different slopes while trying not to get lost or caught up on advanced trails. It was good practice for us both. It also let me know that I am no longer twenty! My knees ached after some of the longer runs and I was glad to take a break by sitting on the chairlift back to the top. Lunch was a couple of sandwiches while we sat out in the bright sunshine, watching people glide by on the nearby slopes.
Lunch in the sunshine
Who you lookin’ at?
Many restaurant choices at Hahnenmoos
The clouds rolled in over the mountains as we took some more runs after lunch. The temperature was dropping slightly, as was the sun. We knew that it would take some time to get back to the gondola station where our lockers were. We consulted the map and eventually made our way back to Adelboden, following the blue lines back across the expanse of the resort’s mountain slopes.
Heading back to Adelboden
Our chosen blue line had the unfortunate feature of also being a sledding hill, which meant that it was fairly flat, narrow and icy. It even showed signage that it was a hiking trail near the end, but it was still better than nothing and we enjoyed our last taste of snow for the day.
A relaxing “last run”
Another snow-covered cabin
We had some time to wait for Bob and took advantage of yet another slope-side restaurant/bar. It was a nice place to wait and we watched the colorful trekkers, boarders and skiers parade by.
Two happy skiers
The view of the Tipi bar
These two were a great pair to watch
…and off they go!
It was a satisfyingly relaxing ride back to Basel and we were home ten hours after we left that morning. I still find it amazing that I can enjoy such wonderful, year around activities on a simple “day trip”. I think about people who travel for thousands of miles to ski the Swiss Alps, or motorcycle over the famous passes, and here I am, able to do either in a single long day. I hope that I always appreciate the fortunate situation I am in.