Nostalgia

I am in the midst of the worst snowboarding season I’ve experienced in my snowboarding career. With the super sketchy avalanche conditions here in Colorado this winter, I haven’t been snowboarding much at all, and I can’t help but reminisce about better times on the snow! Below are a few photos of me snowboarding at Engelberg, Switzerland last winter, taken by my friends Kevin and Jonas.

Snowboarding Engelberg Switzerland

Snowboarding Engelberg Switzerland

Snowboarding Engelberg Switzerland

As you may know if you follow this blog, last winter I spent most of the season in Engelberg, Switzerland. It wasn’t exactly a big winter there either – at least statistically speaking. The season was characterized by occasional big storms followed by weeks of sun. At the time, I enjoyed exploring all kinds of new terrain in the spectacular Alps, but I was also thinking that, well, it just wasn’t that great of a winter. The thing is, when I was in the midst of it, during those weeks-long dry stretches I couldn’t help but think that way. I couldn’t help but think about how much better it could be, about how much more powder I could potentially have been riding on a more generous snow season.

Funny thing is, from my perspective a year later, looking back on my winter in Switzerland I can only remember it as nothing short of epic! This is a phenomenon I’ve experienced before, after other big trips. As time passes I forget about all the in-between downtimes, and all the highlights condense into what I can only recall as a fantastic series of experiences! Indeed, when I think about all the powder days and incredible descents I did score in the Alps last winter, it really does stand out in my mind as one of my most memorable winters.

I think it’s amazing how our memories do this – how they become refined over time, how the mundane stretches of time condense and settle into insignificance while the high points come together and grow in prominence in our minds. Yet I also wonder why it takes me a year or more to gain the perspective to see just how special those moments were as a whole. It’s a great thing to have memories that I can forever cherish and reflect upon, but it’s not good to only be able to truly appreciate those experiences through the rear view mirror. So, I think it’s important to strive for that perspective in the moment. Of course the highlights will be sweet while they’re happening, but it’s those in-between downtimes when I need to relax and see the bigger picture, instead of expecting everything to be awesome every single day and being disappointed when it’s not.

This last month and a half has been one big “in-between downtime” – not snowboarding much, not photographing much, not really getting outside much at all. But I’m not bothered by it. In fact I’m taking advantage of it. I’ve actually been having fun working on some big projects that I’ve had on the back burner for years; I wake up every morning eager to get back to work and get it all finished while I have this chance to focus. So while I know that this snowboarding season will be forgettable, I’m making the best of it in other ways. And in the meantime, I can still savor my memories of powder days past!

Panorama of Engelberg, Switzerland

LARGER VERSION here!

Panoramic view of Titlis and pretty much most of the terrain of Engelberg.

I look at this photo now and I recall so many sweet descents all throughout this incredible terrain. At left center where the radio tower is is the top of Titlis – it takes one gondola and two tram rides to ascend the 6,000 vertical feet to the top there. Below that is the Steinberg Glacier. At far left is the Laub, an incredible 3,000 vert slackcountry face. Behind that is Fürenalp, and way back behind there is the Surenen valley. In the center is Jochstock, with its great lines off either side. To the right of that, more great terrain.

You can see all my favorite ski and snowboard photos from my winter in Switzerland here.

Griessental Sunset Panorama

Griessental, sunset, Switzerland, alpenglow, panorama

Griessental Sunset Panorama : Prints Available

Sunset light illuminates the snow-filled valley of Griessental, February 2011.

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Here’s a photo from my archives, from February last winter in Switzerland. You can see more photos from this hike here.

Back home in “the Switzerland of America” this winter, I haven’t been getting out into the mountains as much as I’d like due to the sketchy avalanche conditions. On the bright side, I’ve been taking the opportunity to work on some projects that have been on the back burner for years. Among other things, I’m learning Adobe InDesign book publishing software and am excited to start creating some photo books. I might even have time to finally put together a screensaver app for sale on my website. So, stay tuned… I’ve got some good stuff in the pipe!

3 Days of Splitboarding

Skiing Schafberg, Engelberg, Switzerland

This week I met up with Jonas, a splitboarder from Finland, and we went on splitboard tours around Engelberg on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Here are a few photos from the last three days.

In the top photo, you can see Wetterhorn down the valley.

Splitboarding below Titlis, Engelberg, Switzerland

Titlis dominates the scene at Fürenalp.

Continue reading “3 Days of Splitboarding”

Friday on Titlis

Titlis Rotair, Engelberg, Switzerland

The recent misty, rainy weather down in Engelberg gave way to fresh powder and sunshine up high on Titlis this morning!

Snowboarding the Steinberg Glacier, Engelberg, Switzerland

The somewhat heavy powder was perfect for arching fast carves down the Steinberg Glacier.

Titlis, Engelberg, Switzerland

A peek off the rugged backside of Titlis.

Igloo bar, Titlis, Engelberg, Switzerland

The igloo bar, with a view of the heaps of off-piste on offer, including Titlis and the Steinberg Glacier at upper left.

Powder Above the Clouds

Skinning above Engelberg, Switzerland

Still scoring powder in Engelberg! Monday offered an alltime powder day, with 30cm of fresh and bluebird skies above the inversion clouds. Tuesday offered more fresh tracks for those of us willing to hike a bit above the ski area lifts. I’m loving it here lately!

Skinning above Engelberg, Switzerland

At the top of the line, with an impressive spire overhead.

skiing, Engelberg, Switzerland, powder

Skier: Zapatilla.

Continue reading “Powder Above the Clouds”

Griessental

Rugghubel, Rugghubelhütte, Switzerland, Engelberg, Alps

Rugghubelhütte : Prints Available

The Rugghubel alpine hut sits on a snowy ridge above Engelberg, with a hazy Swiss Alps backdrop - February.

Yesterday I hiked up to the Griessental valley, a photogenic alpine valley that I vowed to return to after seeing it the first time during the Brunistock traverse a few weeks ago. This valley is directly above the town of Engelberg; in fact you can see the Rugghubelhütte (above) from town!

Griessental, sunset, Switzerland, alpenglow

Griessental Sunset : Prints Available

Alpenglow light illuminates the snow-filled valley of Griessental, February. 

See a wider version of this one here (Tough to decide which one I prefer).

Ruchstock, Hasenstock, Switzerland, moonlight

Ruchstock Moonlight : Prints Available

Full moon light illuminates Ruchstock (2812m) and Hasenstock, February. In this 30-second exposure, at the left is the last light of dusk, and at the right is the glow of city lights under low cloud cover.

Ski Surenen

Skiing in Blacken, Switzerland

Today I met up with a skier from Montana for a ski/splitboard tour near Engelberg. I had scoped some north facing lines during Sunday’s hike up the Surenen valley, and I thought they would offer the best potential for any remaining powder after nearly three weeks of blue skies since the last storm.

Skiing in Switzerland
Skier: Sam Cox.

We skinned up the valley and of course we chose to go for the highest couloir there! The snow was promising on the way up, but as we got higher into the couloir it turned to hard icy snow. After pounding steps into the slope for a few hundred feet, without crampons or ice axes, we decided that it just wasn’t happening! A crusty descent took us back down out of the couloir, and then we scored some nice turns down the open slope of smooth old wind-rippled powder.

Nice turns!

Looking back up at our carves down the nice section. We had come out of the couloir at top right. All in all it was about an 1800′ descent, with probably the best (or should I say “most decent”) snow left around here.

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