I consciously say one more instead of ‘the last’.
One more ski down the slope.. one more run loop around the lake. Just one more trail to ride the mtb before sunset.
One more winter adventure on snowshoes in the Swiss Alps.
Before we knew, the snow started melting rapidly and with that the hope of spring ski touring melted away too.
This season, sadly there wasn’t enough snow during the winter to have a solid base and by now, huge air gaps around rocks and unstable layers make touring a bit of a Russian roulette.
We parked the car on the Julier Pass, my favourite spot for backcountry touring near St. Moritz. I had a quick look at the steep lump in front of us, and stepped into the snow. I sank deep in the sugar. Given this first hill is south facing, and great snow wasn’t expected, we decided to give it a try and see what it looks once we are above it. Avalanche transceivers on and checked, we looked up the hill in front of us, took a deep breath and began the adventure.
As we advanced higher closely surrounded by the towering peaks, luckily we found better parts. Getting a good grip under the snowshoe crampons gave us the hope that we can continue.
As we were approaching Mt Cotschen 2883m, we started sinking knee deep again. To get up to the ridge, we had two choices. Continue in the deep snow and curve up around, or tackle the steep side on our right and zig-zag our way up. We went with the latter. Consciously, Max and I kept a good distance between us. It turned out to be the right call as we had the first scare, the ground cracked around our snowshoes but luckily didn’t give away.
Finally on the shoulder of Cotschen, we managed to take off the snowshoes and walk to the top, often dodging the snowy parts opting for touching the ground.
We couldn’t hang out for too long at the top, big scary grey clouds were moving towards us. This was the alarm to get the ‘ell out, but which way? Should we return via the same route or drop on the other side where we had no idea about he conditions? This way we could check out the Julier Valley where Max hadn’t been.
Of course we chose the unknown.
The next four hours were spent disappearing in the soft snow, the ground below us felt bottomless. We were no longer on a steep part, yet the heart rate shot up every time cracks formed around us in a 5-10 meter radius and the entire snow floor sank under our feet.
I felt a huge relief when we arrived back at the car park.
So, was this ‘one more’ worth it? Absolutely. I believe you learn more when the conditions are far from ideal, especially when one leg you’re in winter, with the other, you’re in spring. Literally.
And we felt so lucky to be out there, just us on snowshoes, surrounded by beautiful nature.
Bring on summer. Bring on the adventures!
© copyright 2021 by Alexandra Nemeth