GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Want a sub-two-hour calorie burner that’s fun, with nice views and libation options? I shook off my Sunday indecision late today following a Saturday night dinner with friends, finally asking my wife to prescribe an afternoon excursion.
I ended up taking my first real bicycle ride of 2013, heading across Pont Butin – filled with walkers taking in the fine weather – South to Chancy and re-crossing the Rhône on the quaint single lane bridge at the Pugny train station.
The climb from Pugny to Challex burned the haze from my mind without hurting too much.
The views from the top on a sunny day are not too shabby either; in warmer weather you can get a cold drink on the patio at the Auberge de la Treille while you take in the Rhône river snaking through the valley below.
The ride down to La Plaine is a blast, if short-lived – 3 km of switchbacks through front yards and close enough to the hillside dwellings to see what’s on for lunch.
ST. CERGUE, SWITZERLAND – Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet snow at St. Cergue (or thereabouts). The fresh snow above St. Cergue this weekend made for fresh backcountry skiing around the Bois de Couvaloup.
On my second climb in as many weeks, I explored with a ski mate, the area between La St. Cergue and La Dôle, and found a great mix of moderate climbs up well marked forest cuts, Lake Geneva views and sparsely travelled powdery slopes rewarding us.
The way up to La Dôle this time was easier, less of a technical climb, with more downhill slopes compensating, and plenty of food and shelter options on the way (Café La Barriette, Chalet des apprentis, Nyon Ski Club cabin).
While our route was never far from a car accessible road, the ample snow cover and threat of a good “white out,” gave a pleasant feeling of isolation.
Standing in front of the Nyon Ski Club cabin, our last stop before heading down the piste at La Dôle, I thought, “perfect family outing material,” the spirit of adventure within my teen daughter’s pain/ennui threshold.
One of the members there, lunching with family recommended spending the night and taking advantage of the club’s open kitchen facilities to cook up a cold weather feast.
CHF15 per adult and CHF6 for kids; get your fondue on!
LA GIVRINE, SWITZERLAND – OK, there are no wheels in this post. In fact, it’s all about the joy of pushing two planks up the side of a mountain through the evergreens… and the exhilaration of sailing down through fresh snow fields and open piste.
Just back from the first ski outing of the year with my friend Jeremy; a two hour thirty minute ascent of the Poele Chaud peak adjacent to La Dôle (1,628m and 1,678m respectively).
From our perch at the weather station/hut at Poele Chaud we were able to take in the stunning vista of the Swiss Alps across the lake, appearing to rise from the foggy soup that is the Leman Basin.
Despite the balmy 5 and 6 degree weather we had been sweating through on the way up, the exposed face where fellow backcountry skiers and one snowboarder were dropping off, was verging on icy, and I appreciated the extra windshell I packed.
The trip down through the trees and carving heavy snow was a good trick after the workout climbing the backside of the peak.
We took it slow, popping out of the bindings and hoofing it where the trees were too close, the turns too tight and the drop too severe.
And half-an-hour later, we were headed down the piste with the chair-lift crowd, on our way home.
A good day by any measure.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – How’s this for a quick getaway; hop a bus to Veyrier, grab the first gondola up the mountain and catch a flight on Saleve airlines.
The Etrembières based paragliding school joined the Saleve Mountain Bureau, the Saleve Tramway, Horizon Restaurant, the Maison du Saleve cultural centre, Illico Travel, Segwaygeneve, the Geneva South Port Convention Centre and the Annemasse les Voirons Tourism Office on Thursday afternoon for a mountain top exhibition of their respective services.
So I went for a solo parasail… Not quite, but I did get the lowdown on what it takes to get your parawings – about two weeks of flying instruction and 1,200 CHF.
LA PÉTROULE, SWITZERLAND – This year I am preoccupied, maybe obsessed with dreams of snow.
This is the first year since I have lived in Switzerland that I have gotten more than a week’s consecutive use from my down parka, and I have realized, I really like a good winter. And, I am liking it even more having rediscovered back-country skiing.
At less than one hour from Geneva and with a nice combination of gentle pistes backing up to open space, La Dôle-St. Cergue is a great morning/afternoon ski fix.
Arriving at 11 AM on Saturday to an all but empty parking area, I happily noted a few seasoned back-country fans packing up their equipment after an early outing.
GEX, FRANCE – “Go climb a rock!” That was my brother’s favorite t-shirt when I was 9 years old and he had just returned from a hiking adventure camp in Yosemite National Park in California. That cryptic slogan only began to make sense once I discovered rocks myself some years later.
Since then, there are few places I feel as at home as on top of a mountain, preferably above the tree-line, with a glacial cirque in sight.
This weekend, I made a long awaited trek on my mountain bike up the ski trails around La Fierney in the Jura and found a little piece of home up there.
I followed the signs for the Crozet ski lift in Crozet and continued up the mountain towards the nature reserve, past the right hand turnoff for Gex, until the blacktop runs out at the parking lot.
Just when my legs were getting a good burn on, I veered right from the parking lot, up the dirt road, and then the real pain began. The track is straight and a moderate climb for 1-2 kilometers.
La Givrine – What has no wheels, but glides along, makes no sound but hums a song? X-country or Nordic skis of course.
I can’t say I have had the pleasure of cross-country skiing yet in Switzerland, though I was outnumbered at least 4 : 1 by skiers last weekend as I toured the trails around La Givrine on snowshoes.
The snow was good if not great, still plenty of powder after the thaw, and lots of snowy solitude, broken only by the occasional Nordic skier, or small family groups gliding along.
I love the freedom of snowshoes, making tracks through empty fields, the joy of self-propulsion, not unlike… biking.