Last month I wrote “yes under your helmet” referring to wearing a thin woollen hat.
Some folks have said to me that a helmet is not essential and can reduce one’s vision and ability to hear. They also said that people can feel artificially safer and so ski/board more recklessly. Also it was said, that having skied for so many years, now in these sunset years why bother?
Head injuries can occur as a result of collision, or impact with the snow. Often at high speed. Research published in the British Medical Journal shows that wearing a helmet reduces head injuries by 35 per cent.
In some regions, wearing a helmet is compulsory. While in France and Switzerland there are no rules, although the ski schools strongly encourage it but in Italy it’s compulsory up to the age of 14.
So why haven’t the Swiss made it mandatory when their culture is typical safety orientated?
The Swiss Council for Accident Prevention say the average ski related head injuries is 17,000 per year. After several prevention campaigns "Enjoy sport – protect yourself" their 2010 report noted extensive research into the increased use of helmets and the effectiveness of wearing a ski helmet. From the available results of the studies, it is impossible to determine whether primarily light or severe injuries can be prevented. Nevertheless, no precise details on the protective effect of a helmet can be given as the results achieved differ according to the study design.
They note that, “It is important that the helmet fits as snugly as comfort allows and that the chin straps are always tightly fastened. The protective effect is strongly dependent on the impact speed of the head against an obstacle or the ground”.
The study noted some useful recommendations such as ski rental companies supplying a helmet free of charge and aerial cableway companies could ensure that only advertising in which snow-sport participants wear helmets is shown in their snow-sport areas. “The message to young people should on no account be that not wearing a helmet is cool.”
Dr Mike Langran, president of the International Society For Skiing Safety, says “But all the people who have looked at the data realise the risk of serious injury is too small to make them mandatory.”
According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA),there has been an associated 50% reduction in head injuries for those wearing helmets.
The Swiss expect people to take responsibility for themselves and have the freedom of choice while acting sensibly.
Personally, there are enough silly people waving their ski stocks around and inappropriately carrying their skis on their shoulders, to ensure that I put my helmet on around the train station as well as on the slopes.
Image Credit: mape_s
A Polar bear’s coat has two layers of hair: an outer layer, made up of long (5-15cm) clear guard hairs that are hollow core filled with air; and a thick undercoat, made up of shorter hair. When sunlight shines on Polar bear outer guard hairs, it causes a reaction known as luminescence and makes them look white but their hair is clear and the skin is black.
Not saying you need to wear clear clothes like the story about the Emperor’s new clothes, just referring to the layers. Your base “undercoat” close fitting layer needs to wick away moisture e.g. wool or thermal, then a middle layer to trap body heat e.g. a thin down jacket or a thin merino wool jumper. And an outer layer totally waterproof and breathable to protect from the weather (this is totally the most important layer). Repeat for the legs.
Waterproof Gloves or Mittens are a must. Always have a spare pair with you. And thick socks are better than 2 thin pairs that will bunch and scrumple and give you grief and pain. There are even heated versions https://www.ellis-brigham.com/brands/therm-ic
A woollen hat (yes under your helmet) or head scarf on hot sunny days, is also important to reduce your moisture loss and keep your brain functioning. A buff or neck scarf is also a good cold stopper. Always have one with you. And of course eye protection, googles and glasses.
1. Snow is Not White - it is clear and colourless.
“The complex structure of snow crystals results in countless tiny surfaces from which visible light is efficiently reflected. What little sunlight is absorbed by snow is absorbed uniformly over the wavelengths of visible light thus giving snow its white appearance.” (National Snow and Ice Data Center)
2. 12% of the earth’s surface is ice or snow. 80% of all the freshwater on earth is frozen as ice or snow.
3. All snowflakes have 6 sides.
“The oxygen atom has a particularly strong attraction to the electron clouds of the two hydrogen atoms and pulls them closer. This leaves the two hydrogen ends more positively charged, and the center of the “V” more negatively charged. When other water molecules “brush up” against this growing snowflake, strong forces between the negatively charged and positively charged parts of different particles cause them to join together in a very specific three-dimensional pattern with a six-sided symmetry. Each water molecule that joins the snowflake reflects this pattern until eventually we can see its macroscopic six-sided shape.” ( Learner.org)
4. Identical? "it is indeed extremely unlikely that two complex snowflakes will look exactly alike. Nano-snowflakes can be exactly alike. Small snow crystals can look alike.Larger, complex snowflakes are all different. (www.snowcrystlas.com)
5. Snow is a mineral, just like diamonds and salt.
6 At the center of almost every snow crystal is a tiny mote of dust, which can be anything from volcanic ash to a particle from outer space. "As the crystal grows around that speck, its shape is altered by humidity, temperature, and wind; the history of a flake’s descent to Earth is recorded in its intricate design".(http://discovermagazine.com/2008)
7. Freshly fallen snow is typically 90 to 95 percent air, which is what makes it such a good thermal insulator.
8. Don’t eat the yellow snow but also don't eat red snow, either: “Watermelon snow,” ruddy-tinted drifts that smell like fresh watermelon, gets its color from a species of pigmented algae that grows in ice. The snow tastes great, but eating it will give you the runs.
9 Too much snow can drive a person crazy. Pibloktoq, a little-understood hysteria seen in people living in the Arctic, can cause a wide range of symptoms, including echolalia (senseless repetition of overheard words) and running around naked in the snow.
Do you know some other cool things about snow?
1. Start training. If you work a desk job and don’t exercise as often as you would like, use the stairs as often as possible and do squats and some basic exercises indoors at home. Doesn’t have to be at a costly gym to prepare for your ski holiday. It’s doing little things that get your heart rate up that will really make a difference.
2. As Kleine Scheidegg is at altitude ie over 2000m, be sure to pace yourself upon arrival. If you push yourself or do not hydrate or eat adequately during your first couple of days, you may not be able to maximize your skiing experience. Carry water with you while you ski. You will see many skiers with a camel pack.
3. Every day while you are here, check the weather daily (there are great weather cams on https://www.jungfrau.ch) and dress for it. Layers work well. It is easy to add or remove articles of clothing as the temperature rises and falls. Ski with a small back pack.
4. Cover the basics. Wear 30+ sunscreen (and reapply it often), even if it’s overcast as well as proper eye protection. Always have a pair of googles in your jacket or backpack. Additionally, when considering purchasing or renting boots, take your time. This will make yourskiing much more comfortable and pleasant.
5. While skiing, make sure that everyone in your group is skiing at his or her own level and pace. Not everyone can or wants to ski black runs. This will make for a better experience for all. And there is so much variety from Schilthorn, Mannlichen, EIgergletscher, Grindlewald, plenty or long runs for every level.
6. Start out simple and move to more complex runs. Even World Cup ski racers and X-Games athletes start on the easier slopes, jumps, and rails and build up. A great freestyle mantra is: “Pre-ride, re-ride, free-ride.” Keep this in mind as you check out your snow playground opportunities. Starting out on more basic blue slopes, you’ll be more likely to avoid injury and can continue advancing to more difficult black slopes as you familiarize yourself with the weather, the changes of weather through the day, where it might get icy and at what time, ask people on your lift ride. Each day, get a feel for the snow, the groomers are active all night, consider the weather and choose a ‘where to ski plan’ for each couple of hour so you can decide whether to advance or hold off for an extra day.
7. Have you got kids with you? Consider lessons for them too. With instructors, your kids are likely to complain less and to learn and explore more. You will be amazed at their growth in confidence through a week of lessons.
8. Be sure to ski on Day 1. That way, you'll start getting to know the runs and rhythm of the trains and lifts right away. If you decide you want a bigger challenge and need some guidance, go with a pro, take a lesson. It’s always good to take a few lessons every year, you do want to improve don’t you?. An instructor can help you with your technique, suggest the appropriate runs to practice on, challenge you, and show you around the mountains.
9. Many Swiss skiers seems to take a mid-morning break and if it’s sunny, they will enjoy an extra-long lunch on a balcony somewhere to soak up some rays. So make the most of skiing when everyone else is in a food queue.
10. With Jungfrau ski tickets, you can get great discounts on line when you buy at least 21 days in advance. You can also get ski passes from the tourism bureau in Lauterbrunnen.
An average grade mountain path, marked red and white, suitable for confident walkers with strong soled walking boots for slippery sliding rocks. What is not average, is the scenery. From start to finish, you will have a well exercised neck and camera finger.
It’s a highlight. It’s called the Eiger trail. Getting a head start from the Eigergletscher train station above Kleine Scheidegg and then down to Alpiglen is about 3 hours. Many people walk up from Grindlewald or Alpiglen, however beginning from Eigergletscher where you can look out over both sides of Kleine Scheidegg and be fresh to take in its grandeur and breath in deep the mountain air and feel its calmness, rather than being relieved just to make it your finish point if you begin from Alpiglen. Many keen over 70 Swiss people will be making the uphill route.
This moraine path is also part of the 101km Eiger running trail held in July each year. The green dot highlight paint you see on the rocky path here and there are guides for this superhuman race. Walking under the shadow of this 3900m giant or Ogre is it’s translation, is simply awesome. One cannot imagine how it was first climbed in 1858 with the heavy climbing equipment of their day. This ogre has claimed many lives of those who would want a higher view or the base jumpers from the lower mushroom rock on the Eigergletscher side.
It is a majestic mountain. The colours, the changing textures, the hidden gurgling water springs give plenty to discover. But the sense of enormity is the sensation that remains when walking this high way. I praise God for His even greater enormity and I didn’t want the rocks to be crying out while I was crossing over them.
See the tiny person in blue on the path at the bottom of the photo.
Small things are hard to find in this area of massiveness. The mountains, the rocks, the panoramas, all seem just massive and one feels like an ant amongst this massiveness.
Standing in awe at the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau (the EMJ) from Kleine Scheidegg or up from the Lauberhorn behind, continues to be my favourite view. It is a small grassy hill climb up to the Lauberhorn, famous for being the starting peak for the World Cup downhill ski race each January. You can even walk through the starting gate hut. Even here, on the Lauberhorn, the massive mountains, each with their own glaciers, continue to touch the sky and remain massive.
So a small delight on the walk down from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengenalp is this small refection lake. Not known to many, passed by those in a hurry or who are still photographing the EMJ and overlooked as too small to stop for by others. It is worth the stop. Hear the creaking and spot the frogs. Of course you want to capture the reflection of the massive EMJ behind. Here in this Autumn photo, you can see all three mountains. In 12 weeks it will be blanketed under fresh white snow.
Experience closeness to the impact zone on super hot day, after a walk from Lauterbrunnen, when the sky is stunningly blue and arrive along the path behind the cable car that goes up to Schilthorn to the signboard announcing these stunning Mürrenbachfalls,
Wikipedia says "According to studies from the year 2009 the Mürrenbachfall with a fall height of 417 meters is considered the highest waterfall in Switzerland. In this case, the Mürrenbachfall, which had previously been regarded as a cascade, was redefined by geographers into a single case, since they could not find any horizontal planes typical of cascades in the case."
Climb up the grassy slope behind the track and be lured by these giant falls. Coming within about 30 meters to the impact zone one can feel the exhilaration of the spray mist and with roaring in the ears from the water pounding its destination after such a long fall. Picnick under the shade of a tree facing the falls and also enjoy the view to the opposite side of the valley to see the impressive Mattenbach falls 840m high.
Photo taken from balcony of Staubbach bursting over the cliff edge into the Weisse Lütschine
he name Lütschine dervices from the Celtic name leucos or leuca , meaning "white" or "bright, shiny" and so for clarity it became the "Weisse Lütschine". Flowing 8.6 km through from the Stechelberg area through the Lauterbrunnen Valley to Zweilütschinen (two Lütschine). Here it joins the Schwarze Lütschine, or Black Lütschine that has flown 12.3km from Grindelwald. Folk tales say the villagers of Lauterbrunnen never even washed so their could remain white.
Made up of rain, snow melt and ice, each of which has its own footprint in the river water makeup, researchers can determine the origin of the waters from the to the catchment area of the Weisse Lütschine (165 km2). Researchers also consider the influence from soil and geological features over which the waters flow and have found that snowmelt dominates between April and July with an annual total of almost 40% of the runoff at that time. This glacier melt occurs mainly between July and September and reaches a quarter of the annual total outflow of the Weisse Lütschine. The researchers say that the rain component measured and isolated between May and October is striking and contributes a third of the waters for the Weisse Lütschine. (Source: Gabriel Peier, 20.12.2016 Hydrology Group, Bern University http://www.hydrologie.unibe.ch/projekte/poster/Poster_PEIER.pdf)
Where is the Weisse Lütschine’s source? From 72 and more waterfalls and streams flow over the massive magnificent walls surrounding the luminous Lauterbrunnen valley into the rushing, bustling Weisse Lütschine. From the Schilthorn side these include the Sefinenlutchine, Schiltbach and the mighty Murrenbach Falls.
From the south, high up are 5 or 6 contributing streams from the direction of the Mittaghorn, Grosshorn, Tschingelhorn, Gspaltenhron (the pyramid-like shape) and Breithorn (German for "broad horn". Breithorn is the huge concical shining mountain peaked with translucent ice at the southernmost part of the valley. The Breithorn (3,780 m) can often have the mystical pinkish aurora or optical phenomenon at sunset called Alpenglow. This massive straddles the Cantons of Bern and Vallias and is part of the border between Lauterbrunnental and the Lötschental valleys. This Breithorn is not to be mistaken for the other Breithorn near Blatten at 4,164 m and part of the Pennine Alps mountain range.
At Stechelberg, the fervent torrents of the higher up Schmadibrunnen purge into a 60m cascade and force their way from the Breithom Glacier roaring downwards with a noise like thunder to the hydro station. Managing the power of these waters is a constant concern for the valley authorities as they move the rocks around and yet the majesty of these roaring pure waters have their own wilfulness and draw attention, almost demanding to be watched.
At the curved wooden bridge near the power station in Stechelberg one can be lured by several gushing, racy white waters, seemingly always is a hurry to become the impetuous waters of the Lütchine waters that come from the Sefinenlutchine and Schiltbach. Walking upward from Stechelberg towards Gimmelwald is enchanting to watch playful and forceful waters making rock sculptures on their way. The Spiessbach above Gimmelwald pours over a monstrous rocky outcrop under which one can stand and lookout through the curtain of water raging from overhead. A slippery but worthwhile side path from Gimmelwald to Murren.
Below the apartment is a lovely little offshoot stream from the larger Luterbach (meaning clean creek). The Swiss German language often adds a sweet diminutive “lei” sounding like the English “lee” to objects that are small, for example, a small Hund (dog) becomes a Hundlei.
Our Luterbachlei is also a cool delight for tired feet after long mountain walks and to sit on the grassy island and contemplate the Stuabbach Falls opposite. Or one can look for trout making their way up stream. It is mostly about 30 cm deep and flows into the larger White Lütschine at the Tal Museum.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Rivendell, Sindarin, Imladris, “deep valley in a cleft”, is located on the eastern edge of Eriador, at the foot of the Misty Mountains. Set in that deep valley, which was formed by the action of the river Bruinen (Elvish for “Loudwater”), was besieged on several occasions throughout its lifetime and survived to be the last refuge for the Elves on that side of the mountains. While "lauter" means louder in High German, In Swiss German this would be "luter ". So Lauterbrunnen could mean Clean Well, Brunnen meaning Well or Fountain.
Balcony view of ‘our’ Rivendell. We think it is a close comparison and when walking up to the BBQ hut toward the farm road from the Heliport, it becomes more real.
What about that stone bridge? We think that in Binn a village just 2 hours away, there is a bridge built in 1664 that was quite possibly the inspiration for J.R.R.T., what do you think?
16. If you like to keep small pets like hamsters, you must have at least two so that they don't get lonely. (Mental health care does not apply to cows wearing bells or horn straighteners).
17. If you drink coffee in a cafes serving creamer in tiny tubs, then collect the pictorial lids of these coffee creamers, like stamp or coin collecting.
Migros recalled this ‘nostalgic’ one they sold saying “weren’t images accompanying a book about World War II, but rather something meant to be enjoyed with coffee and a chocolate cake.”
18. Go to Austria for your holidays (unless you're under 30 - then to Australia). Have a low mortgage rate that you never pay off for tax purposes, pay high taxes, follow all the rules since they are there to protect you. Bake Zopf bread on Sundays, celebrate National Day on 1. August and speak at least 3 languages.
19. Keep your military issued weapon clean, ready and safely stored along with your gold. Know the closest location of your nuclear shelter. (Most houses have them, Eyhus’ is downstairs at back of the ski room). Keep your insurances paid up, keep 9 Litres water and 2kg food per person food on hand, always pay your bills on time, be on time and don't argue.
20. Know that Romansch is the 4th national language, that there are 26 Kantons (do not joke that Germany is the 27th) and that Hornesse is also a national sport. Be active, join a club such as yodelling, alp horn playing, singing, card playing, dancing in consume (Trachten), skiing, shooting , football, walking, theatre etc.
11. Take your shoes off before going inside a home and take flowers if invited to dinner, shake everyone's hand when arriving and on leaving.
12. At dinner, wait for the host to say "Prost" before drinking and everyone will clink their glasses with each and everyone while looking them in the eye when clinking. And wait for your host to say "Engoiter" meaning ' enjoy your meal ' before you eat.
13. Never complain. Ensure that everyone votes on a new idea about change through a show of hands without holding a grudge afterwards since everyone is allowed to freely have their own opinion.
14. Use your car (or drive with a friend) as the last option if you are unable to walk, ride a bike, catch a bus/ train to your destination.
15. Get qualified through lessons on how to care for a dog before you get one.
6. Be a clean freak and a neat freak, pick up rubbish when you see it and put it in the bin.
7. Always says 'Hallo' or ' Grewt-zee' on going into a shop or bus and say ' A-dare' when you leave. If you see someone you know, always shake their hand.
8. Look people in the eye when you say Hallo - older people will appear like they are staring or even look you up and down.
9. Walk UP the hill as well as down. E.g. walk up to Wengen is an hour with super views.
10. Reuse, recycle, restore, regenerate, rejuvenate, refurbish, repurpose everything unless you live in the city.
1. Squash your trash as small as you can before putting it into the taxed AVAG bag. Then stand on the AVAG bag as you fill it. All kids are taught these tricks and you will hear the people downstairs doing this occasionally on their balcony. Swiss don't want to pay more taxes than needed.
2. Drink Rivella. Buy Swiss made brands like Aromat salt seasoning, Callier chocolate, Caotina drinking chocolate, Mammut outdoor wear, Dakine back packs, Swatch watch if you your budget doesn't stretch to Breitling or Tag Heuer, to name a few.
3. Eat a large hot lunch such as Rösti and a small cold dinner of bread, cheese and pickles. (Rösti means “crisp and golden,” also a dish of shredded potatoes sauteed on both sides until crisp and golden.)
4. Spread your Swiss butter very thick on your bread.
5. Men always sit on the toilet seat in homes
1. Locally made Cheese called Lauterbruuen Muetcheli – from village Coop, Molkeri or Jungfrau Campground shop.
2. Swiss Sausage called Wurst from village Butcher/Metzgerei in the middle of town. Buy the Jungfrau one.
3. Callier chocolate – the best! From Coop and not available worldwide!
4. Swiss army knife of course! From the watch shop in the middle of the village. Go a few days early to get the receiver’s name engraved.
5. A glacier stone from the Lutchine river. Choose a rounded one because it will be older.
6. A little Swiss sew-on patch or bit of real lace from Trudy’s Gift Bazaar. You will find other fun things there too.
7. Aromat seasoning from Coop – for all your popcorn, soups and cooking needs- Swiss cuisine secret.
8. Keyring from your stay with us www.LoveLauterbrunnen.com
9. A red egg slider from Coop. Light, high heat proof, cheap – great gift for family folks.
10. Lots of photos :)
1. Switzerland is one of the only two countries to have a square flag – the Vatican has the only other square flag in the world.
2. Switzerland is prepared for a nuclear war, if there ever was one. Thers is a bunker in the ski room.
3. In Switzerland citizens can challenge any law passed by Parliament – provided they can gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. If succesful, a national vote is held and voters decide by a simple majority whether to accept or reject the law.
4. Swiss men have the longest life expectancy in the world – in 2015 life expectancy at birth was 81.3 years for Swiss men and 85.3 years for Swiss women, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
5. Swiss law prohibits owning 'soclal' pets unless you have two of them – this makes it illegal in Switzerland to keep just one guinea pig, mouse, ferret, fish, canary, pig or other social creature. With the world's most stringent animal welfare laws, Switzerland judges isolation for such animals as abuse.
6. There are Swiss taxes for owning a dog – annual taxes are determined by the dog's size and weight. Dog owners are also required to take a training course to learn how to properly care for their pets.
7. There are 208 mountains over 3,000m high – with 24 of them over 4,000m. The highest is Monte Rosa (Dufoursptiz) at 4,634m, situated on the Swiss/Italian border. Jungfrau is 4,158 m.
8. Switzerland is also known as Confoederatio Helvetica – which explains the abbreviation CH. It's officially named the Swiss Confederation for historical reasons, although modern Switzerland is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the federal city. The founding of the Swiss Confederation traditionally dates to 1 August 1291 and is celebrated annually as Swiss National Day when everyone puts out thier flags and usual ther are fireworks.
9. Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates of industrialised countries despite liberal Swiss gun laws – in 2015 there were only 0.5 gun murders per 100,000 people in Switzerland (around 40 per year), compared to five gun murders per 100,000 people recorded in the US in 2014 (around 30–40 per day).
10. Albert Einstein developed his famous formula E=MC2 in Switzerland – he developed his theory of relativity while studying and living in Bern, after renouncing his German citizenship to avoid military duty.
11. Swiss politics include an anti-powerpoint presentation party – the party's goal is to decrease the use of powerpoint and other presentation software, which it estimates costs Switzerland EUR 2.1 in economic damage.
12. Sundays in Switzerland are protected by a long list of social laws – making it illegal to undertake activities such as mowing, hanging out laundry, washing your car or recycling bottles to ensure peace and beauty is maintained. A peaceful night's sleep is also guaranteed by building rules that frown upon noisy actions after 10pm, which can include peeing standing up, slamming a car door, flushing a toilet or emptying a bath.
13. Women did not gain the vote at federal level until 1971 – and they are still underrepresented in political life, despite Switzerland often being praised as a model of direct democracy.
14. Switzerland lags behind most western European countries in areas of gender equality – in 2015 only 41.3 percent of women worked full-time compared to 83.6 percent of men, and less than 20 percent of all national decision-taking posts were held by women.
15. Foreigners account for nearly 25 percent of the population – one of the highest percentages in the world.
16. The Swiss eat more chocolate than any other nation in the world
17. Swiss proverb says that “Sometimes you have to be silent in order to be heard It's easier to criticize than to do better”.
18. Switzerland has four national languages - French, German, Italian and Romantsch although English is increasingly popular.
Our neighbour was right. Die Eisheiligen (Ice Saints) arrived this morning. It was Sophie, the last one. Huge flakes (3cm) of snow! Our veggie patch neighbour was on her balcony taking photos too.
From centuries-old agricultural experience with spring frosts, Die Eisheiligen or The Ice Saints is the name given to St. Mamertus, St. Pancras, and St. Servatius. They are so named because their feast days fall on the days of May 11, May 12, and May 13 respectively, known as "the black-thorn winter". This period was noted to bring a brief spell of colder weather including the last nightly frosts of the spring in the Northern Hemisphere under the Julian Calendar. The Gregorian Calendar introduced in 1582 moved the days, from the climatic point of view to became May 22–25.
The Swiss weather metro have confirmed exactly these climate things until 1965 measurements were made of ground frosts. However descriptions in literature describe the fall of Eisheiligen in Central Europe over the days of 11 to 14 May (Julian Calendar). Concluding this cold phase is the Cold Sophie on May 15 finally (now 28th May). According to tradition, any frosts after this date should have no threat to agriculture. (Source: http://www.csgnetwork.com/julianmanycalconv.html)
Measurements by the Swiss meteorological department since 1965 acknowledge a slightly higher frequency of ground frosts 22 – 24 May however do not concussively determine this as a particular phase. (Source: http://www.meteoschweiz.admin.ch/home/klima/vergangenheit/klima-der-schweiz/berichte-rund-ums-jahr/die-eisheiligen.html )
Graph shows Frequency of ground frost in April and May 1965-2008, Analyzed for the measurement series Payerne (490 m above sea level. M.)
Certainly this meteorological information is not in the Bernese Oberland area, however the locals say that a late Sophie means a long Summer. A good thought as I watch the unfamiliar low clouds roll past the Staubbach Falls. There is a dusting of icing sugar snow on the pine tree forest on top of the massive cliffs and the snow has become a light rain and the dog walkers are not deterred and day trippers gather in the car park with their self sticks to capture the Staubbach Falls behind them.
Oh what a wonderful morning, bright blue sky so early however with the promise of later clouds from the weather underground that I was hoping would be wrong. Sounds of rushing water everywhere as more snow melts. Some canoeists arrive to put their craft into the White Lütchine for a speedy ride to Lake Thun. They were eager to get going and rushed like the water to get in and keep pace with it. Unlike us watching from the balcony, we were not in a hurry and enjoyed seeing their bobbing helmet heads pass swiftly by and their dedicated driving ladies dove away to probably get a quick coffee before picking up their river men……….Sunday is an extra lovely quiet day, as we and neighbours sit on our balconies soaking in the sun and listening to the noisy waters and watching the world. Water from the tumbling Staubbach Falls, the White Lütchine and the little Lütchine Bächli that runs past the apartment. Nice that one can see little fish in the Bächli though too small for fishing so the youths fish from the larger White Lütchine with a rod and net for an hour, but no luck today.
So much to see from the balcony. Our neighbour in the large house to the left has not planted her vegetable garden yet as she waits for the last Eisheiligen due to finish by 25. May. Day trippers wander into the field in front of the Sportanlage where there are tennis courts and mini-golf…..they get a similar magnificent view of the Staubbach Falls and the Breithorn mountain to the left up the valley as from our our balcony and right now the field is blooming with white and yellow flowers and some purple colour splashes too, all great for photos.
The birds are happy with the weather and sing about it, they must like all the extra leaves worn by the huge trees opposite the apartment. So many different greens and almost covering the church except for the clock and steeple. Spring is here.
Back from a leisurely stroll along the edge of the White Lütchine. We hopped over barbed wire to reach more amazing views of many waterfalls on the Wengen side opposite the Staubbach falls and Buchenbach Falls. It's 6pm and we are still in shorts and short sleeves and back on the balcony listening to the birds’ evening song and watch some dog-walkers along the White Lütchine path opposite as the Sunday evening bells chime ‘ time for supper’. The sonorous bells play again at 6:50 to announce an evening service there and close the day. We enjoyed the balcony until 9pm.
A little wind today and the Staubbach Falls are spraying a wide mist as they tumble down in this between-season time. The sun for many hours on the balcony, from the long daylight saving days makes lazing with one’s feet up on the railing an easy activity.
While the trees are not yet dressed, the fish are easily seen and buzy in the Lüterbach stream below the balcony as in this image. Some local boys come to try their luck fishing in the Weisse Lütschine (White Lütschine) opposite the apartment in the image above. Their nets and rods give them lots of fun but they went home with an empty bucket.
The Weisse Lütschine has several tributaries that you can see as you walk along the path opposite the apartment heading up towards Stechelberg. Many named and unnamed gushes from the massive high walls as waterfalls down the steep cliffs. One is into the Staubbach Falls and also the Trümmelbach Falls (the water fall inside the mountain you must visit) and the Schmadribachfall. The highest waterfall in Switzerland is here, the Mürrenbachfall, with a height of 417 meters that enters into this Weisse Lütschine.
Is there a Black Lütschine? Yes ! The Schwarze Lütschine, or Black Lütschine, flows from Grindelwald to Zweilütschinen or Two Lütschine. You can see the two rivers mixing their colours under the bridge by this train station of the same name. Fund rafting experience is to be had from down the Schwarze Lütschine while the Weisse Lütschine challenges solo canoeists who begin their adventure opposite the balcony of the apartment. They are quickly out of sight and we often wonder what that would be like.
The spring flowers are bursting out. Blues, yellows and whites, making a carpet on the meadows. See the heart in this group of flowers? What a picture, I couldn’t believe it.
It is a great time for holiday accommodation as the village is not buzy and there are no crowds and everything feels fresh and the air is warm. Yes there are some rainy days, but that makes the grass green and I saw the first cows let out today from their winter stalls. They were crazy hungry for that new green grass they have missed all winter while being indoors.
The variety of flowers and grasses in the meadows is one of the secrets to the flavour of the milk and cheeses made in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. We walked up along track 49 (Jungfrau Wandern Hiking map) to Wengen through these flower bursting meadows along the well-marked path and through the forest. We did not see a Chamoix or Gemse (Mountain Goat), these are the most common although we have seen them previously when they get surprised and are caught loafing off in the shadows when a person comes by on the trail. Then they spring in a flash and a rush past you as you wonder “what was that?’. There are a few of the larger Reh Deer and occasionally an Ibex or Steinbock you can see in the cliffs. Although there is a hunting season, there is plenty of fodder on the slopes for all.
Wengen is a “must see” visit with another Bäckeri (bakery) with delicious cakes, bread and sandwiches. Take your purchases to the seats at the lookout by the church to enjoy the most spectacular view of Lauterbrunnen. Need a few groceries for dinner? There is another Coop supermarket, prices the same as the ones in Lauterbrunnen and Interaken, so one canbuy more fresh bread and cheese before walking down the track 48 (Jungfrau Wandern Hiking map) other path to Lauterbrunnen.
Being on holiday means not so much cooking but since it is still light until late, we often eat supper on the balcony. Our kitchen has most culinary tools one could need and tonight I prepared sautéed mushrooms and zucchini with local Lauterbruunen butter then steamed with lashings of quark #. Served over spiral pasta with super diced thinned sliced local ham from the Metzgerei (Burcher) in Lauterbrunnen. Fast, easy and delicious! – Guten Apetit!
# Quark is amazing. It is a fresh acid-set cheese. Traditional it is made without rennet, but in sometimes rennet is added. Low fat (wow so lucky) like yoghurt in calories, it is smooth, soft, white and thicker than cream but not fatty. One can use it in everything. From making a dip, spreading on crackers or with vegetables, to making soup, stirring into vegetables, which I did tonight, or topped with honey for breakfast, yumo!
The Swiss are ingenious. Creating LSD, mustard in a tube - thanks Mr Thomi and Rivella, their iconic drink made since 1952 from whey, herbal extracts, fruit, water and some sugar - you either love it or not.
When I moved into our Lauterbrunnen apartment, unpacked some things, cooked, enjoyed the feeling of ‘here at last’ then decided some dish washing was needing to be done. I spent ages looking for the plug to wash up my first dishes in the kitchen sink. Not finding such that I was familiar with, the next day I went to the hardware store and quite an expedition to find one in a back alley. My beginner level German transitioned into creative mime sufficient enough for the patient shop manager to find exactly what I needed. On showing me the plastic tube, I quickly recognised that I had seen something like that under the sink! What looked like a part for the vacuum cleaner was the sink plug. Of course he saw my surprise and as I continued the mime of vacuuming we both laughed.
By putting this tube into the sink plug hole, you don’t ever overflow the sink and can pour liquids down it while you have a sink full of water and you don’t get your hands wet when you remove it, convenient if you have left dishwater in the sink to go cold and nasty. There is a longer one in the laundry tub as well – super – I’m sold on these.
After talking about the sink, there is the kitchen hob. It has three hotplates not four. This is actually very practical as one rarely needs to be stirring or even using 4 pots at one time. The fourth space I use for standing hot pots on or swapping pots on and off and so not having to put them on the bench.
Then there are the inside walls, covered with a textured concrete type surface called Putz. I didn’t think I would like it after having lived all my life with smooth walls yet it hides grubby hand marks well, doesn’t dint too easily and looks tidy and has been enduring.
Even the cows have straight and tidy horns! Thanks to these nifty horn braces! This young girl was happy to be outside, possibly for the first time as she looked about 5 months old. They don’t yet have their bells on and are probably getting used to the new sounds around them like the gushing water of Staubbach Falls.
The ingenious Tropenhaus in nearby Fruitigen is a tropical oasis with water of 18 degrees coming from the mountains!
Unique in the world. You can visit for 18CHF to see the growing of tropical fruit and a Sturgeon caviar farm producing caviar called Oona, derived from the Celtic language meaning "special".
Interested in sustainability?
It is a must visit with many interesting workshops watch the film here. https://www.tropenhaus-frutigen.ch/en/about-us/tropenhaus-film
Most people know of Rick Steves. For over 30 years, his global travels have inspired and helped others to enjoy magic places often overlooked by the regular tours.
Read his review on Gimmelwald below, one of the best views of the valley from here and a cute mountain village. From the Eyhus5 apartment walk or take the bus to Schilthorn cable station and up to Gimmelwald and cable car to Mürren and then hike down to Gimmelwald. Or from Lauterbrunnen cable car to Grütschalp then the little train along the cliff to Mürren (we prefer to walk instead of taking the train, a nice 90-minute hike alongside the classic postcard view).
Walk down to Ginmmelwald after experiencing Mürren (20 minutes), then Take the cableway down to the valley and the bus back to Lauterbrunnen. Or walk back down, about 2 hours, through a lovely forest with an amazing waterfall on the way, very cooling on a hot day.
Buying a Berner Oberland Regional Pass, will cover all of these lifts and trains.
Every two years my guidebook research brings me to my favorite corner of the Swiss Alps, as I visit my friends who run the little places that accommodate my traveling readers in the tiny village of Gimmelwald.
Here are some ideas for reducing the chances of ski and pole theft while you are enjoying lunch inside a cozy mountain side Café;
• KRYPTO GRIP locks by KRYPTONITE Some say that the combination types are easy to break into, whereas these have keys.
• Put skis in the rack next to a pair of brand new Skis
• Separate your skis with a friend
• Write your name or email address on the skis or use an engraving pen. Write in Chinese!
• Paint your skis so that they look less lovely to would be thieves.
• Record the serial numbers and brand of your skis and photograph them and your poles
• Sew a cloth name label into the loops of the ski poles. Decorate your poles with some coloured insulating or holographic wrapping sticky tape
• Don't take them off, keep skiing.
Big fluffy flakes have been flying and floating all day past the window. Big ones, small ones, always a curious thing.
Snow , a book written by PD Eastman and illustrated by Roy McKie in 1962 that I fondly remember from my childhood. As book number 27 in the Beginner Book series, I could recall it all, along with scenes such as the snow fort, the dog sliding down the snow on his tail, the melting snow man and most importantly, the attempt by the children to save some snow in their refrigerator.
“Snow! Snow! Snow! Come out in the snow. Snow! Snow!
Just look at the snow! Come out! Come out! Come out in the snow.
I want to know If you like snow. Do you like it? Yes or no? Oh yes! Oh Yes!
I do like snow.
Do you like it In your face?
Yes! I like it any place.
What is snow?
We do not know. But snow is lots of fun We know.
What makes it snow? We do not know.
But snow is fun To dig and throw.”
Looking for some outdoor fun when it’s too cloudy up top or you want to rest your wallet?
Snow shoeing delivers some soft powder feeling along with freedom to go where you want. Prepare your ego to be overtaken by the 70+ crowd and remember to soak in the quiet and stunning views. Pink signs point to some trails behind Wengen. Test yourself and try running downhill in untracked snow with your arms out wide.
As people, we keep memories to the achievements and adventures we have journeyed. What becomes of these after the next generation?
Live your dreams and enjoy them with others.
‘As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place there shall know it no more.’ Ps 103:15-16
Where dreams begin for outdoor adventures in the inspiring Jungfrau region