Boarding & Banter in Chamonix: Video Log

Children of winter never grow old.

(Warren Miller Entertainment)

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Too much powder in Interlaken

After a long training day starting with a 6am session at Barry’s, plenty of punches into head and body during solid sparing at fightzone and with the highlight of catching up with Sam (my assistant at Blackrock) I made it to city airport. On time. No stress. Skyworks offers some great flights to Basel/Bern leaving after work Fridays (7.15pm) and coming back early Monday morning (lands 7.30am). So you get the full weekend away.

Andre picked me up from the cosy Bern airport. After most passengers got off in Basel we were a full 5 people on the plane (felt very much like a private hire by now). Two border police officers met us (respect), a full three pieces of checked luggage required pickup and after 5mins all was done. Amazing. A snowy ride to my friends weekend place in Interlaken (50km) ensued. Winter! 

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Chez Andre & Mona

After a somewhat late night we drove to Grindelwald. Amazing place and completely snowed in. Plenty of tourists around including many Asians as usual to take the Jungfraujochbahn to Europe’s highest train station at 3,450m (‘Top of Europe’) and gaze at the famous Eiger north face. I went there myself during my last vist in September 2015 and completed my 22 day push up challenge there.

It was snowing like crazy especially further up the mountain (we went up to First, 2,200m) and new snow looked at lot more than the official 20cm. Temperatures between -11/-15 degrees and extremely poor visibility. So instead of nice powder runs we found ourselves repeatedly digging us out from waist deep snow. After a few runs we called it a day and went for lunch at Bergrestaurant Schreckfeld. A goulash soup each (SFr 10.50) and a beer (SFr5.5 – dry period took a break this weekend ;o) were all reasonably priced.

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Back in the car the smart BMW notified Andre of low tire pressure – we had a caught a nail. Amazingly, it took only 90mins from calling the BMW service mobile to having the tire fixed (on a Saturday afternoon). This service comes will all BMW’s in Switzerland Andre told me (being in charge of a BMW garage himself). Then we had a bit of time and went to see Rene in the reggae pub ‘Jamming Corner’. Relaxed place for locals. A schnaps called ‘Grüne Zunge’ is apparently his specialty – but we passed gladly. After a quick stop at Andre’s paragliding centre we made it home. Time for a traditional cheese fondue – chef Andre in action!  Very tasty!

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The 15min walk to town was welcome after such heavy dinner (the cheese fills you right up). First stop was Ice Magic a local specialty, white mulled wine. While drinking we watched a bunch of local ladies engaging in a game called ‘Eisstockschiessen‘. It’s very similar to curling, but without the brushing as a group of local girls explained alongside a few tips as to where we could go out tonight. I liked the tumbles most ;o)

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We decided to hit  ‘HighLife‘ for a bit of rock music, good chat with locals (albeit some completely shit faced) and even a few timid dance moves. My highlight was meeting my new favorite girl. Bit skinny, but with overwhelming style and charm! It turned into a pretty late one …

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Sunday morning was slow. More for Andre than myself. No boarding today and unfortunately we also missed paragliding – which Andre’s paragliding teacher had offered. Well, well. Instead we headed for the city of Thun for a late lunch. Not bad city, but expected little more. The ‘Rösti’ was nice though.

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The drive home was swift (60min) and after a brief rest we headed into Basel to meet with camping neighbors Ernst and Helen at their Basel apartment. Mona, who hadn’t come to Interlaken feeling unwell, joined us. Andre had to deliver a few things and then we all gathered in a smoke filed kitchen over a beer. Soon we headed back home in great anticipation of gratin for dinner. Thank you Mona! Extremely tasty.

Thank you Andre & Mona for a wonderful weekend. See you soon!

Boys weekend in Chamonix

Getting to Cham from London started really well. Early at the airport and on time departure with BA. Sadly, neither wi-fi nor mobile hotspot were sufficiently quick to download the latest lego star wars anime. Back to ‘Brave’ for Alex, which he still enjoyed very much (any movie will do ;o). We landed 10mins early in Geneva, but then hit the delay as our friends at #Alpybus didnt live up to their promise of having a departure every 30mins. I guess they advertise flexible departure, but this is really subject to busses getting filled up. If not, the service is delayed. We left 11.10pm having spent more time at Geneva airport than London! Should have listened to my host Davide and take the easybus (or just rent a car).

On the bright side, they drop you off right at your destination, code for the outer door I still had from last time and Davide (already out at Chamonix social club – highly recommended) had thankfully left the keys for us the get in. He even popped over briefly to give me my board before he disappeared into Chamonix’s nightlife again (he returned after 10am next morning – big night). We didn’t have trouble to sleep.

We didn’t get up until 9.30am or so. Then off to town to fetch ski’s for Alex and have breakfast. A bakery and the maxi pain au chocolat they sell were all too inviting. We quickly picked up my board & boots at home and off we went to Brevent lifts – literally just a little further up the hill from Davide’s apartment.

The four-hour ticket for the two of us was only EUR33, but excluded the Brevent lift higher up. This makes sense since from there only black slopes lead down – a touch too early for Alex. Unfortunately there weren’t many slopes open in the remaining section. So we ended up trying our skills at the BIG Airbag. Stuntman Alex at work! Daddy’s big air video evidence didnt wirk out … pity!

Food as expensive as ever: For lunch we ordered (a pretty poor) pasta Bolognese at €16.50 together with Evian water at €3,90 at restaurant ‘Altitude’. That is Cham for you and next year they’ll slap another 5-10% on top (because they can). But hey, I don’t want to get into a debate on real life inflation here and at least service was prompt as the slopes were pretty empty. In return we enjoyed great scenery and were watching paragliders take off.

Back down in the valley we headed straight to town. Since I would take my board home for the first time, I needed a carrier bag. Now options are plenty in Chamonix from cheap to high-end brands. The choice is yours!

  • Technique extreme: cheap clothes & gear (bought €15 bag here)
  • Snell sport: all round shop with top class gear all outdoor sports
  • zeroG good for snowboarding equipment (got my Burton boots and bindings here)

Afterwards we treated us and Davide to a hot chocolate & nutella crepes in l’atelier cafe (recommended). I had a citrus-mint infused tea and once more learned that the non-alcoholic drinks menu is pretty short of options. A nice raclette dinner followed in ‘Cham’s best place for cheese’ (Restaurant la Caleche) – according to Davide anyway. Tasty stuff! Nice interior too!

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Pretty filled up we headed home. Alex ended up discussing girls in his school with Davide (or Dave as he refers to him). Two pro’s in conversation. Paragliding had fascinated Alex all day and the sheer presence of a paragliding kit in the flat must have stirred dreams. Davide tried to satisfy them to a degree with plenty of go-pro footage of his own jumps. Alex would have been ready to jump on the spot! Bed time ensued. All of us exhausted.

Note to the host: What do you need a blow dryer for with your short hair ;o)

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Next day we managed a slightly earlier start at 8.30am with some spelling and reading homework for Alex (thanks dad!) and ‘Milchreis’ (rice pudding). Alex was ready to ski again and even prepared to give big airbag another go! Off to Grand Montet today!

The ski-bus departed only a few mins walk away. Always great. We met a UK family in the bus. All first timers (Brexit anyone?) who were well impressed by the scenery and are here for a week. Have fun guys!

Skiing atGrand Montet was great, the sun was shining and we had some fresh snow (rather than pire ice 3w ago). Memories came back to me of my first Cham boarding with Cedric during a KBW ski trip years ago. Each bar has its own story here. Be it with Tully, Steve or Holly. Been a fun weekend (well, I dont claim to recall everything …).

Alex had a great time even though some blue slopes are steeper than the average. I would say Cham is generally steeper than pists in the Austrian alps. But fun nonetheless. He even managed another bunch of jumps on a small ramp. Bravery has no boundary on a boys weekend ;o)

Sadly, mid afternoon we had to leave the mountain. Back home, change, pack, pick-up (Alex can’t wait for a bit of movie time & Bose sound ;o). That’s it. It’s great as ever.

Thank you Davide! See you in February and keep us in the loop re Namibia trip.

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