On the first day home since my trip to Switzerland, I thought it appropriate to honor a Swiss skier. I’m still a little star struck by the impossibly quaint ski villages and precipitous ski resorts of the Alps that could hold numerous Crystal Mountains within their boundaries. Don’t worry, I’m not going to move to Switzerland. Not yet anyway. My heart still belongs to Crystal. But the Swiss understand the sport I love–after all, skiing is their national sport. I just hope that I can find a way to visit more often.
Five-time Hanekam winner and World Cup Swiss ski racer, Didier Cuche, recently retired from racing. On the last race of his career, he impressed spectators with his return to tradition equipment. Here he is in Schladming running the Giant Slalom with wooden skis, knickers and a really cool woolen cap. Too bad he wasn’t wearing a bota bag. That would have really capped it for me. This guy is a true Swiss hero, and watching this video you can see why. Hats off to Cuche.
Hameau Les Cleves
Experiences are more important that things. I would rather spend my money and time on traveling to new places and meeting new people than buying the latest jeans or ski pants or even snow boots (although yes, I do have a soft spot for good snow boots–a girl needs quality footwear). That’s my story and I’m sticking with it anyway.
Last summer John and I planned a trip to the Alps for the winter. We weren’t sure on the exact location until we met some new friends–Eric and Corinne Mariethoz–who we met last summer on their trip to Seattle. They live in Nendaz, Switzerland–a ski village sitting on a terrace above the Rhone Valley overlooking Sion–and they invited us to come stay at their lodge.
Hameau Les Cleves is a mountain lodge nestled along the edge of the piste above the village of Haute Nendaz. Access from the parking lot to the chalet is inside the Haglund–a mililtary-style mix between a tank and a snow-cat (or “piste-basher” as they call it here), and once you reach your accommodation you never want to leave.
Nendaz is one of Verbier’s 4 Valleys, connected to some of the best skiing in the world. Later this week the Xtreme Verbier Freeride Tour will take place, and I can think of the perfect terrace from which to view the contest.
A few inches of new snow have freshened up the slopes and the forecast for tomorrow looks good for sun.
For the next few weeks I plan to soak in as much Fendant and Raclette Cheese and Vin du Valais as a girl can handle. There’s even a chance that we just decide to stay right here and never leave. Maybe Corinne and Eric need some help running their lodge. Perhaps the Verbier Patrouille de Ski need a non-french speaking patroller on their roster. Probably not, but a girl can dream.
I won’t be bringing back much in my suitcase in the form of souvenirs, except for maybe a bar or two of Swiss Chocolate. On the other hand, my heart will be full of new experiences and friendship.
And for that I’m most grateful.
P.S. While the words and posts for the next few weeks might be a little shy, at least the photos will be plentiful.