2015-01-24

Skiing in Andermatt (Gemsstock)

Ben, Christian and I went for another ski trip on Saturday. We chose Andermatt because none of us was familiar with that resort. Driving around the village looking for a parking spot and ski rental we decided on the Gemsstock gondola. As it turns out Andermatt has three disjoint skiing areas and Gemsstock is the most difficult one for "advanced skiers". We take the second gondola to the very top of the mountain and set off. While the initial plan had us going down a red slope we somehow missed the turn off and landed on a black one instead. For Christian it's the first outing of the season. He handled himself well, being thrown in at the deep end and all that ;-)

It's cold at about -12°C and windy. According to my GPS I manage top speeds of around 77km/h. I don't have proper ski clothing and am using my regular hiking attire. This leads to a novel sensation: not only is my beard and face frozen, but the tip of my nose as well. Weird.

The weather is clear and beautiful at the very top, but we have thick clouds hanging around the 2000m mark. They cause a complete whiteout, so we have to carefully feel our way from one piste marker to the next. You can barely discern the next one in the dense fog. Christian finds one with a little too much speed and crashes right into it, breaking it clean off. A remarkable stunt considering that the poles are solid wood as thick as a man's fist. He's unhurt.

It's funny how your perception changes with the circumstances. I usually despise ski resorts and the way they destroy the mountain wilderness with the pistes cutting through forests and the steel wires of the cable cars disfiguring the mountain skyline. Yet at the same time I find myself disappointed when I have exhausted all available runs at the end of the day. Wishing for more options and better lifts. Oh the hypocrisy. On the other hand the resorts are similar to climbing gyms: training for the real thing. I'm not good enough a skier to go on ski tours just yet, but that has to be the goal. "Earn" a mountain by climbing it under your own power.

Ben and me.
Christian. Thanks for the photos!