Berner Oberland Ski Tour • May 2 to 7, 2006

Our last trip of the season was a 6-day tour in the Berner Oberland. We were joined by Alan Agle (who just finished the Haute Route with us), his wife Carol, Holly and Ged Smith, Maurizio Portolani, and Bill Pearson.

We have always liked the Berner–its big peaks and giant glaciers remind us of Alaska. Once the Jungfraujoch train enters the tunnel in the Eiger, we stay in an extreme alpine environment until we finally drop down into trees and springtime on the last day.

As with all our trips this year, we had quite a mix of weather–starting with three bluebird days, then a mix of cloud and sun, but never truly nasty.

Other Recent Trips

Waiting for the train in Interlaken Ost. From here we travel to Lauterbrunnen, then Kleine Scheidegg, then finally the Jungfraujoch, where we step into our skis and begin.


After a short descent to the Jungfraujoch we skin up to the Louwitor, a high pass with a great descent following.


Skiing down from the Louwitor. The south-facing glacier gave us some perfect corn snow. In fact, searching for corn was the theme of the 6 days.


After the decent to the Aletsch Glacier we skin up to the Hollandia hut, just behind us in this photo. This is the morning of day two, where we ski up to the Abeni Flue. Maurizio puts on his skins in the warming sun.


The Hollandia hut in the morning. Alan and Kathy prepare.


Touring up to the Abeni Flue.


Alan, Carol, bill and Maurizio arriving on the summit of the Abeni Flue. Behind is the Aletschhorn.


Just above the hut we wander among the crevasses.


After a quick ski back to the Hollandia hut, and a warm bowl of soup, we continue back towards Konkordia. With the corn snow beckoning, Bill, Carol, Holly, Maurizio, Alan and Kathy did a big side trip up (and down) the Kranzberg. Mark and Ged took a more leisurely pace directly to the hut for the night, the Konkordia.


Arriving at the Konkordia hut. The Jungfrau is the big peak in the far background.


Alan and Maurizio getting refreshed on the deck of the Konkordia hut. Beer on tap!


The following day we continue on to the Finsteraarhorn hut. Here, we skin up to the pass of the Grunhornlucke.


On the other side of the pass, we have a fun descent to the Finsteraarhorn hut.


After a brief rest and lunch in the hut, we set out to ski up the Wyssnollen and great ski destination and a fantastic view point. Alan takes in the vista towards the Louwitor and Jungfrau.


Skiing down from the Wyssnollen


The third day of the trip was the last of our blue-sky days. As we gathered around the television in the Finsteraarhorn hut (yes they turn on the news at 7 for the evening weather forecast) we could tell that something was lurking over the horizon. And indeed, we awoke in the early morning to find wind and new snow. After a bit of discussion and false starts, we headed out into the mists to attempt the Wannenhorn.

But the weather gods were not with us, and new snow and thick cloud turned us back at 3600 meters. We returned to the hut to warm ourselves with hot chocolate and other goodies.

This photo was taken the following day, on our second Wannenhorn day, one on which we did in fact summit. Here we are looking down on skiers at the 3600 level, the same spot from which we retreated the previous day.


Bill arrives on the summit of the Wannenhorn. After a great ski down we continued to the Oberaarjoch hut.


Safe and sound, and about to be well-fed in the Oberaarjoch hut. We (and the lone hut keeper) were the only folks in the hut this night.

Round the table, from left to right are Bill, Maurizio, Ged, Holly, Alan, Carol and Kathy.


The following day was our last of the tour. We wake up to find thick cloud to the west, but a few sun breaks and, really pretty good skiing conditions.


There are lots of ways to end this tour. And, in fact, though we have been here half a dozen times, we have never gone out the same way twice. And this trip was no exception. The hut keeper recommended a descent down a valley we had never visited. Well, why not explore?


First, up to the Galmilicke, the pass just up and left.


Then down a glacier to a steep entry couloir. Here we begin the descent of the couloir.


Lower as we began to reach snowline, we encountered debris from some of the large avalanches of mid-winter.


Carol, Ged and Holly emerge from the woods.


A bud on a larch tree, just outside Munster. Spring has arrived.


Walking through the town of Munster on the way to the train station.


Waiting for the train and our ride back to Interlaken.

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