Walking Buergenstock - May View of Pilatus, with the last traces of snow on the peak, viewed over the lake.

With the first really good day of summer forecast, we headed off with Diana & Luis for a summer walk. The chosen route was Stansstad via Bürgenstock to Buochs, number #15 from Rother Wanderbuch / Rund um Zürich.

After a brief struggle to parkin Stansstad we headed off, following the lake for the first section of the walk. The route then climbs fairly steeply with lovely views across to Pilatus and over the lakes, and on the other side of the hill, snow capped Alps to the south.

We stopped for a brief rest at the top and a cup of tea. Diana showed us her discovery of the Flora Incorgnita app which looked to be very good, and succeeded in identifying a early summer orchid growing close to where we'd stopped.

We lunched at the slightly overpriced 1879 Taverne at Bürgenstock, but enjoyed the lovely views. Refreshed we headed on down to Buochs, stopping at the lake for a brief drink. Jules was talked into trying the official drink of Nirweiden, but wasn't particularly taken with it!

Overall the walk was 14km, with 800m ascent/descent and took us 3 hrs 40 minutes plus the breaks and lunch. It was definitely a T2, and a fairly strenuous climb for the first proper walk of the summer. The gpx plot of our route is here.

Walking VorderRhein - May View down the Vorderrhein valley. Green pastures, next to river with crumbling cliffs in background.

Finding myself in Versam Safien I decided to head up the Vorder-Rhein, along the Rhein gorge, starting in Versam and ending up in Ilanz.

The route is pretty spectacular - very shear sided cliffs on both sides of the river carved out, leading into wider meadows further up the valley. The walk itself is every easy and safe, following the river and the railway line along the base of the valley, climbing gently overall, but not rally getting much more than 50m above the level of the valley floor.

I took the train back from Ilanz, which was quick and easy, although a bit confusing to catch - I even got whistled at by the driver of the train going the other way who wasn’t happy with where I was standing, or my crossing the track.

The 9.2km took me a little under 2hrs at a gentle pace, with no navigational challenges at all. It’s a T1, and pretty good value for money.

The gpx plot of my route is here.

Walking Bülach Stadelberg Circular - April White building with red painted tudor-style beams

With a fairly reasonable day forecast in Zurich, but low-ish cloud and the possibility of a rain shower putting us off a trip to the mountains, Jule and I headed to Buelach to try route #5 from Rund um den Zurisee by Rother.

We had the usual fuss leaving Bülach station - for some reason I always get confused about how to get out of the place - but found the right way after a few minutes and headed off. The route starts out along the Glatt before heading inland and starting to climb into the hills. We made good progress to Stadel where we stopped for lunch at the Restaurant Brauerai for the largest cordon-bleu I’ve ever had, but not the largest ever - that world record being held by the chef, but not available on the Sunday lunch menu (thank goodness).

Slightly stuffed we headed off up the hill to the highest point on the walk - the Stadelberg lookout. From there it was a fairly long, gentle loop back to Bülach, with some nice views over the rolling countryside and fields. We were treated to lots of birds on the walk, including some seen and some only heard - particularly in the woods.

Overall we clocked it as 21.3km, and it took us about 4hrs 15 of walking, plus the stop for lunch and a quick break in the afternoon. It's a T1+, owing to some steps and the climb up the Stadelberg. The gpx plot of our route is here.

Work Skiing Trip - March Wine glasses raised against a blue sky

Many thanks to Jay for being the prime organiser of our work skiing trip. We had a great time over the weekend, helped by fantastic weather and better company. The days broke down as follows;

Friday

Some of us woke up on Friday feeling slightly worse for wear - possibly as a result of one too many Amber beers in Rocky. We made slightly slow progress up the mountain - Paul nearly defeated by his ski-boot at one point - however, the first wave made it to the top in glorious sunshine to start a lovely days skiing.

We headed over to Satel, which was in lovely condition a bit higher up. From there we had a good cruise around for the morning on pretty quiet slopes. The snow was a bit crunchy first thing, and particularly lower down but it softened up as the sun got to work on it.

We met up with the second wave of skiers in Plaun and then headed over to Stargel for what turned out to be an excellent steak (although missing the polenta) and a long, lazy lunch. We finished with a run down to Flims where yours truly had to go for a lie down before heading out for a late dinner of pizza.

All in all it was a pretty relaxed and sociable day, with us covering 28.km and 4,600m of descent over 7 runs.

Saturday

Most of us woke up feeling a bit better for a slightly earlier night, and we headed up the mountain. After a warm up run or two around Nagens we headed over up to Satel to give those who hadn't skied it on Friday the chance to see that side of the mountain. The run wasn't in the best condition - a bit slushy and quite bumpy, and it was a bit hard work on slightly tired legs. We stopped in Ruschein for lunch (arriving just at the wrong time), and then settled in for a lazy afternoon sat in the sun and drinking schnapps. It's a hard life.

We finished with a lift up Lavadinas and a long run down to Plaun before lifting up to Nagens and finishing down Stretch. All in all we covered 34.2km with 5,600m of descent over 8 runs.

Sunday

For the final day, Paul and I decided to try to get a good morning of skiing in before we had to head off. We actually managed to cover a fair bit of the mountain, including a couple of runs under Tres Palais, which was in excellent condition, and a run down to Curnius to see the half pipe on the lift on the way back up. We finished with a run down Startgels to close a great weekend.

The stats for the final morning were 26.7km and 4,500m of descent over 10 runs

Skiing Flims - 3rd March Snow covered mountain, under grey clouds

Trying to find some snow up high, but a bit concerned about the incoming storm, Michael & I headed to Flims for a bit of a cruise about, hoping to find a balance between winter and spring conditions.

We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived - the weather was better than forecast sunny and fairly clear skies. We made the most of the morning, and had a good ski around Nagens above Flims before heading to La Vacca for a good steak lunch.

Unfortunately the weather was much worse when we left the teepee. The storm had arrived and with it fairly low cloud and snow at Plaun. We did a somewhat disastrous run down to Falera, getting rained on at the bottom and skis barely moving in slushy snow. We retreated back up the mountain and to our surprise found some pretty good snow on Skiroute #73, which we did a couple of times, with better visibility and conditions each time. We downloaded from Plaun (the top of the mountain had closed owing to the wind), to finish a perfectly respectable day, with a couple of more technical and interesting runs than expected.

In total we covered 34km, with 6,000m of descent, over 12 runs

Skiing Flims - 2nd March Snow covered mountain above a tree lined ski run.

With a great day forecast, I headed down to Flims to go skiing with Jay, Izzy, Harry and the gang, with Jules joining later to do a little cross country.

We made an early start - only slightly delayed by the queues since we weren't the only ones enjoying the moutain that day. We started down Stretch, which was in beautiful condition at the top, at a cracking pace set by Harry. Then we headed over to hook up with the skiers above Crap Sogn Gion for a gentle run down to Cornious mostly together. Jay and I then headed off to do something a bit more challenging - #84 down to Falera. Conditions were pretty tough - a thin loose layer over refrozen lumps, turning to slush lower down, but this would be a brilliant run in fresh snow. A bit knackered, but safe and sound we headed back to Plaun to hook up with the others.

We did one last run down Stretch together, then I did one more run down startgels to finish skiing for the day. All told it was 39km, with 6,500m of descent over 11 runs, so a pretty respectable day.

Skiing Flumserberg - February View over snow covered ski pistes with the Walensee in the background

With a bright, sunny day forecast, but it having been a little while since the last snow, I decided to head to Flumserburg for a bit of a cruise around to see the mountain and explore.

The weather was as forecast, and I wasn't the only one with the idea of going out skiing. I parked at Tannenheim where the car park was almost full at 9:45, but there were no real delays and I was on a lift before 10am with no hassles.

I had a good cruise around the mountain in the morning, slowly making my way across to Seebenalp trying most of the runs and lifts. I quickly learned that the blacks are proper blacks in this resort - quite narrow and steep and icy.

I lunched in Hotel Seebenalp - with a very good (as usual) fitness teller, with the good views up the moutain. Suitably refreshed, I spent the afternoon crusing about slowly heading back to Tannenheim with the one notable event of a spectacular fall in front of a group of Swiss children (one even stopped to ask me if I was OK)!

By reputation this resort gets quite busy at the weekend, and I can understand that given the proximity to Zurich. However a lot of the area seems skiable in good conditions, in particular the run black #42 off the back, and the area under the Leist lift.

Overall I had a pretty good day - a total of 47.6km of skiing and 7,900m of descent over 28 runs.

Snowshoeing Raten - February View over snow covered field with the Rigi mountain in the background

For a gentle warm-up on snowshoes, not having been so far this winter, Jules and I headed to Raten to try out a short loop.

The route was very picturesque with spectacular views across the alps, including the Rigi and Pilatus all the way to Saentis.

Conditions were perfect - lovely blue skies and warm in the sun. The route itself is pretty easy and would be perfect for guests or people who haven’t done any snow-shoeing before. We finished with a light lunch at the restaurant at Raten - slightly embarrassing that we’ve been there before, but didn’t remember!

In total it was a pretty relaxed day, with only 5.1km of easy (T1) snowshoeing and 150m ascent/descent which took us 1 hour 10 minutes.

Winter Walking Haemikon - February Two figures in silhouette on a snowy path under blue skies, with mountains in the background.

With good weather forecast, and keen to get out for a winter walk, Jules and I headed over to Haemikon in Lucerne to meet up with Diana and Luis.

We had done part of the route before in summer, but it was nice to see the countryside in different conditions. Once again we were treated to spectacular views across the alps, covered in snow and under bright blue skies.

We stopped for lunch at the slightly busy Alp Restaurant in Horben before looping back through the woods.

Unfortunately I had a bit of a nasty cold, and by the time we finished we were at about the limit of what I could enjoy that day. All in all it was 11.2km with 200m ascent/descent and a T1 with easy navigation that took us a bit less than 2 hours 30. The GPX plot of our route is here.

Skiing Flims - 27th January Snow covered piste, with mountains in the background.

With a bright sunny day forecast after a bit of snow - Michael and I headed off to Flims for what turned out to be an awesome day.

Slightly delayed start owing to Michael deciding to rent some powder skis for the day - which was definitely the right choice, judging by the chuckles for most of the day.

We spent most of the day playing in powder off the sides of runs and skiroutes. Conditions were awesome - really confidence inspiring with plenty of deep snow but a solid base underneath. The only slight pity was yours truly being on slalom skis - definitely more effort in the deep stuff than the Salamon 106 QSTs!

We started with the traditional run down stretch to warm up, then headed up off up to Tres Palais to play on skiroute 85 (The recommended route #84 To Falera being closed, so we declined it) Before dropping off the back down black 41.

Lunch was a quick stop in the canteen at Vorab before heading off to try the fantastic powder off the side of black #26 from La Sciala - so good we had to do it twice! From there we headed over to skiroute # 83, then #72 before heading up and over Startgels to finish happy but exhausted. Probably in my top 3 days of skiing, despite taking the wrong skis!

We finished on a very respectable 44km, 8,200m descent given it was almost all technical, off-piste skiing - not a cruise all day!

Oh, and Michael bought the powder skis....

Skiing Flims - 20th January White ski-piste under blue skies

Under blue skies and with loads of fresh snow, Michael and I headed down to Flims for what turned out to be a cracking day's skiing. The entire mountain was open (even the Porsche lift and #35 Sattel), and plenty of sunshine in which to enjoy it.

Breaking with tradition, we headed straight off up the mountain, via Mutta Rodunda and Vorab to find black #35 Sattel. Conditions were great on that side of the mountain, and the pistes were in lovely nick. We came up the Porsche lift a few times doing the free-ride route #86 as well as #80.

It was a good day for cruising around and seeing the top of the mountain for the first time this season. We managed a good selection of the classic routes Flims routes in the morning and into early afternoon. We both reckoned that we were skiing a little better on this occassion - the slightly more technical off-piste routes forcing good balance and technique which paid off later in the day.

For lunch we stopped in Stargels for a really excellent steak and roast potatoes that was totally worth the stop. It's the first time I've been to that restaurant, and I see why it has the reputation that it does.

After lunch we skied until basically the end of the day, continuing the theme of cruising around and picking up odd routes where they looked good. We finished by catching Scansinas up to Mutta Rodunda to ski back down black #16 and then down Stretch to finish.

Overall we managed a pretty respectable 45km, with 7,600m descent over the day. We were only delayed a few times by Michael retrieving his skis and putting them back on (he claims the binding was set too loose for the powder, yours truly was sarcastic)...

Walking Kappel - Albishorn - January View over dark woodlands to misty lake, framed by snow covered hills and mountains.

With a slightly grey day forecast, and not feeling up to a long snow-shoeing trip, we headed over to Kappel to do route #47 from Rund um den ZurichSee - Kappel Albishorn circular.

This turned out to be a good choice, and with slightly better visibility than expected, there were lovely views of the Rigi, the alps and the Zurisee . We followed the same route as last time in August-16 , without any challenges.

We stopped at the restaurant at Albishorn for a very good lunch, and the service once again friendly and attentive. We're starting to think that we just got unlucky the first time we went, as it's been pretty good the times we've been back Heading off along the Albis ridge - a bit slippery in places with the hardpacked snow, but we made it down without problems. All in all a good walk, and not to far to travel - a good option for the day.

Overall the 12.9 km with 450m of ascent/descent took us 2 hours 50, not including a break for a cup of tea and lunch. We'd rate it basically a T1, and the GPX plot of our route is here.

Skiing Flumserburg - January Snowy hillside grey in clouds

With a pretty rubbish day forecast, but the website suggesting that about half the mountain would be open - I headed over to Flumserberg to try to get a bit of skiing in.

I was pretty disappointed on arrival, with only three lifts open, and not connected, but I made the most of the day. There was some powder to be found under the Prodalp Express to the (skiers) left of route #3, which was a nice surprise. I was skiing pretty badly - no real excuse, except that the very poor visibility might have been affecting my balance. At this rate I might be turning into a fair weather skier!

Lunch was a perfectly forgettable pizza in Sonderbar at Tannenheim, but I couldn't be bothered to drive anywhere else, and most places were shut.

With the weather deteoriating after lunch I only managed a couple of runs before long queues at the lift and pretty bad visibility exhausted my enthusiasm. To my pleasant surprise, I did get a partial refund on the lift ticket, which was nice.

Overall I managed 9 runs, to a total of 18.3km, and 3,100 m of descent.

Skiing Flims - 6th January Blue skies, over snow covered mountains with clouds nestling in the valleys

With the possibility of a good day forecast, clouds earlier on but clearing later, Michael and I headed to Flims to try to make the most of the early season snow.

We were lucky with the weather - clear blue skies higher up the mountain with just a layer of cloud about half way down. Unfortunately winds had closed the top of the mountain (where the weather was best), but we had a good day on what was open.

Great snow conditions really helped, and the freeride routes were in excellent conditions. We did a few variations on route #85 under Très-Palais, and some good fun runs down black #16.

Overall it was a pretty respectable day despite being restricted in how much of the mountain we could ski. We covered 44km over the ground with 7,879m of descent.

Winter Walking Unteriberg - January View across snow covered fields,  with snow covered mountains in the distance.

With a nice sunny day forecast in the mountains, Jules & I headed out to Unteriberg, near Hoch-ybrig to walk up Spital.

We decided to go for a walk rather than take snowshoes as the peak is fairly low and there hadn’t been that much snow recently.

It was quite cold when we set off from Unteriberg - probably about -8, but we quickly warmed up on the climb. We made steady progress up to Spital, although we did turn off the intended path at one point, as it wasn't that clearly marked as a walking path, and there was a better track to follow. Arriving at the peak we declined to stay long, and instead found a bench to have some oakcakes and tea in a sheltered spot out of the wind and in the sun.

We had a slight problem at the top of Raegenegg, where the intended path down was closed for the winter season, but we [cough] made it down somehow [cough], and headed onto Hoechguetsch for a Gursten soup to warm up. From there it was a brief stroll back to Unteriberg to finish a lovely days walk with some beautiful views.

Overall the 12km with 730m ascent/descent took us 3hrs20, and it was just about a T2. The GPX plot of our route is here.

Walking Faellanden to Rigiblick - January Stream running through trees on grey winters day

With a grey, wet day with low cloud forecast, Jules and I headed over to Faellanden to do a local walk to stretch our legs on New Year's Day.

The weather was as forecast, but fairly well wrapped up we headed off up the hill from Faellanden towards Rigiblick. We made steady progress up the gorge, with large granite boulders lying beside the path. We made good progress to the ice skating rink, but couldn't be bothered to stand in the queue and pay to get in, just to have a cup of coffee. Instead we carried on towards the zoo, and stopped for a very pleasant coffee and cake in the Sorell Hotel Zürichberg before continuing on the Panoramaweg to the top of the Rigiblick funicular.

It was a decent stretch of the legs for New Years Day, and the 10.3km took us a little over 2 hours, not including the stop of a coffee. The GPX plot of our route is here.