Stammtisch: Hans Solmssen

Avalanche Awareness Course - Day 3 of 3
Avalanche Awareness Course – Day 3 of 3

All conversation revolves around the lack of deep snow. I say „deep“ because there is snow on the ground. It’s just not deep. For the past two years, the winters in these Alps have started with a bang. Deep snow came early which makes me feel good, because I think mother nature feels good. Her ground is insulated from the cold winter nights. It makes me feel all warm and cozy – and playful.

Right now, there’s a lot of bare ground on the southern exposures. Savoleyres lacks snow almost to 2200 meters. The Chamois seem to be loving it though. There’s lot of grass to eat, and they’re looking so fat.

These conversations about the lack of deep snow seem more about people’s expectations of the coming winter. Will it snow this winter? What will this winter be like? Check back in mid-May and I’ll tell you how my winter was.

I remember last winter, one morning after a big dump, it cleared, blue bird! The town was frantic, fanatic. Folks blew right past me on the way to the lift like it was a bomb shelter during a nuclear attack. Eyes wide open, the fear of not getting first tracks visible through these windows to their brains.

We got up there and it sucked! The snow was what I call up-side down. It was so deep, the upper layer was dense, and just beneath it was hollow. No one could turn. Even strait lining it on steeps was doomed to flailing misery. People were very un stoked. People were in such a hurry to get up to the up-side down porridge. People had such high expectations. And they were let down. Big time.

For the past three weeks, I’ve been going out with friends and clients in search of a few good turns. Expectations are rock bottom. We’re skinning for a couple of hours to get to 700 meters of powder. Powder! Really! Powder 30cm deep. Nice creamy powder. And there’s no snow on southern aspects up to 2200 meters. What fantastic skiing!
You see what beautiful creatures we are? Our expectations, our mind’s preparation for the future, and what becomes our reality, are so intertwined.

Though it’s low tide in the Alps today,  finding that creamy line in that protected valley after a fine walk with good friends, will set joy to your heart, especially if your expectations are set to the neap tide.

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