Moving around in the mountains and remote environments is not something I am unfamiliar with, having grown up in South Africa and exploring its various mountain ranges.
What is unfamiliar to me, however, is moving safely through high Alpine environments in winter, with snow and ice - something we don't have very much (or at all) in South Africa. This is where, since our move to Switzerland (my wife is Swiss), the Swiss Alpine Club (S.A.C.) has been a great way to meet like minded people with a lifetime of experience in these types of environments - and to learn from them.
Ski touring is of course an advanced activity for someone who has only been skiing for four years, since it is worlds apart from skiing on piste at a resort, but that is a topic for another story!
Ski touring comes with a number of additional considerations e.g. avalanche safety equipment, food and water for multiple days, skiing in a number of different snow conditions (which change during the course of the day), altitude, etc.
Then there is also the factor of me being the least experienced member of the group most of the time, which is why I have waited for two years before bringing my camera gear along on a trip.
Well, if you're the least experienced it generally also means you're the slowest. No, not in terms of fitness, but in terms of technique and knowing what to do when and how, as well as identifying obstacles in advance.
Add to that a camera, which generally means you are falling behind / speeding up ahead to take images, and you need to know what you are doing to be able to catch back up and not make any errors in difficult / exposed situations.
However, if you enjoy mountains and snow - and of course skiing - I can highly recommend ski touring!
Day 1 - Iffigenalp to Wildhornhütte (A Spring Start):
The first day of the S.A.C. Wildhorn Easter Ski Tour for 2022 would take us from the Iffigenalp to the Wildhorn Hut. A short skin uphill along existing skin tracks.
It was a beautiful spring day, which meant a warm start.
Everyone's mood was a little subdued at the start, as it can be when everyone doesn't know everyone - yet.
However, as soon as we had our skis on and the ice (excuse the pun!) was broken, the mood changed to one of excitement. With chatter from the good weather outlook, to the prospect of viewing the surrounding region from some of its highest peaks.
These conversations of course take place in the native Swiss German language.
Which has regional dialects, and cannot be written as no grammar exists. It can only be learnt through speaking (in written communication German is used). This has taken me a few years to understand and speak, and the former better than the latter, but I'm getting there!
There would be no skiing on this day, as it was all uphill to our overnight stop.
One highlight of the day, though, was crossing the frozen Iffigensee (Lake of Iffigen). This provided some great photo opportunities (see images above) and of course a moment to reflect upon.
After crossing the lake, we had the rest of the way to skin up to the Wildhorn Hut for a well deserved beer and dinner.
An early arrival and night also meant I could review my photographic gear setup and carry system, making the necessary adjustments for the following days if needed.
Fortunately my approach to carry my gear in a similar way I do for hiking (except when skiing down) was proving to be a good decision, so I went to bed looking forward to the following day's adventure!
Thanks for reading!
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