Although I am a husband and father, I am forever a ski bum willing to chase after the endless winter. I, like many, sit and stare at looping satellite images trying to determine where to go and when. Sometimes I hit it right, but often times I arrive to the cliché but often true, “Should have been here yesterday.” After the New Year, rumor of epic snow in the Alps started to circulate and some research confirmed that places in the Swiss Alps had indeed received a bounty of goodness from above. Some places had received 10 to 12 feet of snow in just a couple weeks. Europe was off to the races and I didn’t want to miss the boat (plane actually). I combed the internet and came across some screaming, well make that murmuring deals, on flights. I called renown Canadian lensman Henry Georgi and asked is he was interested in a powder feast in the land Toblerone built.
A few flights later we landed in Zurich, boarded the train and headed on a two week journey to pillage and plunder the riches of the Swiss Alps. Every few days we unpacked our bags and settled in someplace new. Murren, Grindelwald and Zermatt all delivered the goods.
Stable snow in Murren allowed for some epic ski tours and huge descents of better than 6,000 vertical. Skiing from
peaks to the valley floor is a traditional in the Alps. Drinking a beer while eating apple strudel with vanilla sauce is my Swiss tradition and a nice complement to 30,000 vertical foot sessions where crossing another track is frowned upon. The huge faces of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau dominate the skyline and intensify the scale and magnitude of the terrain.
A short train ride around the Eiger delivered us to Grindelwald. We tour above the lift and ski big lines of powder, soak up the sun at a mountain hut while eating Goulash and then skin to the base of the Wetterhorn to link powder turns beneath the setting sun. Each day delivers huge terrain, big views and culinary delights.
A down day was welcome as we boarded the train for Zermatt. As we viewed the Swiss countryside from the comfort of the train we enjoyed the quaint villages and views of vineyards clinging to the side of imposing mountains. As the train started to climb the snow fell faster and by the time we reach Zermatt, we had a foot of fresh. We departed the train and ran around the picture postcard village. The snow continued to pile up as we finally made our way to bed. The next morning started with the sounds of avalanche control, which is an acoustic treat for powder lovers. We boarded the Sunnega Express underground railway and raced through the mountain at a steep angle gaining elevation fast enough to make our ears pop.
We exited the station, clicked in a drop into 2,000 vertical foot laps of chest deep vapor. The very steep old growth forest provided some incredible storm skiing and appeared to be our personal playground for the day. The main reason we were in Zermatt was to shoot big lines with the Matterhorn as the backdrop. That was the plan, but not the reality. Big lines we had, but never with the cooperation of the Matterhorn. The peak would come out in full glory at sunset providing a show and cementing its place as one of the most iconic peaks in the world, but by sunrise, the peak was swaddled in a blanket of clouds just waiting for the lift to close for the day before coming out to play. In terms of shooting images, we were given lemons. But as a powder lover, I made lemonade and skied more than 60,000 vertical of untracked powder in a couple days. Gondolas, Cable cars and heated chairlifts helped ease my suffering.
Once again the Alps delivered the goods. If you haven’t been to Switzerland yet, move it to the top of the bucket list.
Sven Brunso is the typical ski story. Kid grows up in Huntington Beach, California as a beach bum, goes to college at The University of Arizona and goes on to a career as a prolific freeskier. Okay, so his story is atypical but true. Sven is a husband and father and a forever a ski bum willing to chase after the endless winter.