Thursday, February 26, 2009

Davos - 2009, Part 1

OK - so I'm finally posting on Friday! Busy week. Not to bore you with the annual Ski Trip, but, it was full of a few more adventures this year. More importantly, I was not sick. Not that it's all about me, but...

All of the schools in Switzerland typically have 2 weeks off in February known as Ski Ferien or Ski Holiday. As we are at an International School and have longer breaks at other times, we only get 1 week off. A dream for someone who wishes they grew up with such a holiday. Not to be left out, we've chosen the past 2 years to join those who move up to the mountains during this time.

It's great if you like to ski or snowboard. Nice and quiet in the cities if you don't.

Why Davos (again)? It's less than 2 hrs driving from the house, Bart can get back easily by train, we are familiar with it and - they have chair lifts at their 2 major mountains. The Davos/Klosters Ski Pass covers 5 ski-able mountains: Parsenn, Rinerhorn, Jakobshorn, Pischa and Madrisa (Klosters). Parsenn and Jakobshorn are almost entirely chairlift/gondola mountains. The others are primarily T-bar with some gondola's thrown in. And in Swiss speak, a "ski lift" is not a chair lift - it's a T-bar. And they have a lot of them. They are hard on the knees!

No trip to the mountains, or anywhere else, is complete without local fare. A favorite of ours (mine) in the Graubunden area is the Bundner Suppe which is a Barley Vegetable soup and Roesti which you see below (available everywhere in Switz. :). Shredded, pan fried potatoes (like a giant hash brown) accompanied by over-easy eggs and usually some melted cheese, bacon or veggies. MMmmmmm! Bart was able to join us for one day before he had to get back to work. It's the only weekend since mid-January he hasn't had to work so we were glad to get the time together. My mom was with us for the week so we had a family photographer! We're at the top of Jakobshorn below. Come Monday, Bart was already back in Zurich and we girls got a late start but were anxious to go up Parsenn and do some skiing there. The skies were clear and as yet, I had never skiied Parsenn when I could actually see where I was skiing (whiteout conditions previously).

BUT, we stopped for a toilet break before starting down the runs. Not good. Rachel's feet slipped out from under her (ski boots are not known for their comfort or safety) on the tile floor wet with melted snow and she smacked down hard on her shoulder and elbow.

I sent Kendra and Mom for a run while I went to First Aid (SOS station) to see what they thought. The first man said he thought it might be broken and better if they took her down to the hospital. The second man said that she had some movement in the arm and as it would cost us 250chf for them to transport her, I'd save quite a bit taking her down myself. So we waited for Mom and Kendra to get back and headed back down the mountain on the ParsennBahn (mountain train you take up from the valley to get to the ski runs).

We got Kendra checked into her ski lesson, Mom took off skiing and Rach and I headed for the Spital. Not exactly the address I expected to have in the Nav System history:

Good News - After X-rays and a review by the Chief Ortho. (kids bones are different - too many little pieces still floating around), it was determined that nothing was broken. Probably bruised and a little swelling that was (and still) affecting the nerves. They gave her a little sling to wear for comfort and recommended she lay off the skiing, obviously, until the arm was better.

I won't keep you in suspense as I'll only cover through Wednesday with this post: She skied without poles on Friday. I watched her throwing snowballs at Kendra and digging in the snow with the "bad arm" on Thursday and decided she was healed. At least enough to keep her out of the restaurants and eating yet another ice cream or margherita pizza. And she had such a terrific attitude the whole week. Never a complaint or asking to go home. I'm a lucky mom.

Tues. morning we woke to a very white, winter wonderland. We brushed off the snow from the car (about 8 in.) and headed to a small run near the Parsenn. Kendra had a lesson again that afternoon and we didn't want to go all the way up and come all the way back down to get her checked in.
Here's Mom around 11am - we are already up to our knees in powder. I must say I had a fabulous time. We were able to ski completely ungroomed powder - in safe conditions - which I had never fully experienced before. Most of the skiing I've done has always been post-storms, already fully groomed or - hard as a rock. And I don't care for off-piste/through the woods skiing. It had been about 22 years since I had skiied powder like this. It was awesome - like you're floating - you can't see your skiis and you have to really concentrate on your balance. FUN!!!!!
After a little lunch - Thank You Rachel for holding down a table for us! - we headed to Parsenn to check Kendra in with her teacher Matthias. He greets us warmly, shakes Kendra's hand and asks "so are you also going to ski?" We say "yes, we'll ride up with you and put Rachel in the mid-station restaurant." He then says "OK, of course you know that only one run is open today due to avalanche danger. Stay on the run next to the tracks." UM! OK!
I then HAD to ask, as any mom would/should/could "so, it's OK for you to do the lesson with Kendra up here? Not Bunda (the smaller hill across the way) instead?" He assured me that, no, Kendra is doing well, We will take the lesson on Parsenn, but it will be slow as the snow is heavy and we don't see that well. UM, OK.
So off we went. Mom and I skied a couple runs - fun in spite of low visibility. I got the opportunity to ski all the way back down to Davos behind Kendra and Matthias at the end of the day. She did so good for a tiny thing! It's a black (expert) run. Some days it's not too bad, other days it's solid moguls all the way down. She just took her time and stayed in control - Yeah!
Here's the car mid-day when we moved it across the parking lot (too long explain - it made sense). So another 8 - 10 inches to clear off. And we did it again when we were done for the day. We watched the snowboarders at 4pm and realized they had an advantage over the skiiers. See, you can use a snowboard like a shovel to dig out your car! The collapsible shovel we've carried in the back of our vehicles for almost 6 years now, was finally put to use on this trip. A LOT!
The days adventures are not over. Are you bored yet?
We start heading up the hill toward the flat. And we knew it might be a little tricky but the car had been doing good - love those snow tires. But we ran into a little traffic problem on our street which is now reduced to a narrow, one-way strasse. There were about 6 cars backed up. Most cannot make it up the hill and under the Bahn bridge. So they were trying to sort out places to park for the night and then finish the journey on foot.
We were finally able to get by the other cars and I was told I probably couldn't make it up. I told them I would try as the driveway I needed was just past the bridge. Put the car in 4 wheel and off I went.
And I was doing great. No problem. Until I turned the corner and coming straight for me (and just in front of our driveway) was the snow plow. Had to stop. On a slope. And I was toast.
After I got us unwedged from the snowbank I slid into when the wheels stopped moving, I was able to back up down to the stone bridge. But backing through the bridge is another story. It's narrow, STONE, and incorporates the bend in the road. As I tried to get the right angle, the car started slipping again.
I was wondering how I was going to explain this to Bart and the car dealer. My mom was so nice and quiet beside me. Thank you again Mom!
Fortunately, I was able to stop but I was stuck and did not have a tow cable for the snow plow to use as help. Another Swiss gentleman came up (they were all over the place trying to sort out cars/shovel snow/watch all the foreigners figure out what to do) and lifted the wheel well as I backed up just enough so I could get the angle right and slide out under the bridge - unscathed. Thank you Lord! And kind Swiss man.
So this is where the car spent the night. In Herr Boessi's driveway - a builder/renovator. His colleague the next morning said it was "No problem. We do not use it now in winter. In summer we work, in winter we ski." He then slapped on his skiis and headed down the street.
So we trudged uphill on the snowy street. And here you can see the stone bridge my car was almost, intimately acquainted with. That little curve in the street is nasty when your wheels are sliding. OK - enough of that.

The next morning was still cloudy but by late afternoon began to clear up. We had fun skiing the powder and watching people fall into it - soft landings. We also watched an avalanche go clear down the valley on the backside of Jakobshorn (set on purpose). All morning you could hear charges as they cleared areas around the ski mountains of the heavy snow. It is a significant problem this year and very dangerous for back-country skiiers. I like the marked runs myself.
Grandma E and Kendra as they head down to Davos. I escorted Rachel down the ParsennBahn. She does declare the Margherita Pizza at Parsenn's mid-station restaurant to be "the Best!"
Have I mentioned how cool it was to have my Mom with us on this trip? It was. Totally great! Thank you again Mom for spending a week with us. Sheer torture for you, I know! ha ha ha haaaaa!


Linds said...

It is clearly your superior driving skills which saved the car, Susan! Fabulous photos. Not that I am green or anything. Amazing snow too. It sounds like a fun week!

mandy said...


So. Kids' bones and pieces float around? I'm so not cut out for being a mom. wow

Sarah said...

As always, great pictures and great stories!