• BLOG
  • Winter Tale

    In November I said goodbye to my mountain hideaway in Engelberg. My possessions in the van, packed neatly* we drove to the more urban settlement I call home now. It was nice in the mountains, but it’s nicer to share the pandemic everyday and weekend adventures with family.

    I expected the move to be a goodbye to a proper winter. The elevation dropped from over 1000m to just a bit over 600m, the winter rain here comes more likely as water than snow. Also, phenomenon called hochnebel –  high fog – makes the winter here more grey than sparkly. But like many things in this pandemic, the reality didn’t meet my expectations. Better so, luckily.

    The past winter in Schwyz was one of the warmest and snowiest in decades. (Please note that you don’t make me laugh asking where’s the climate change now with the winter so cold – for just a short intensive period that was.)

    This winter, I got to shovel snow more than I have shovelled the last 10 years combined. (I am sure though, nothing can beat the amounts of the snow I shovelled in Lapland as a kid. Nor what my mom shovelled this winter.) I also skied –both touring and nordic – more than I have done in many many years. Despite living further away from the mountains and not really traveling further than inside a circle with a radius of about 20km.

    It was great. Nordic skiing made sure I got enough of effective physical training (also it kept me fed with a job in the nordic ski rental). Of course, the shovelling was great training too (I think I have arm muscles now).

    Hopp Schwyz – My Pandemic Paradise

    This winter, I also got to explore properly ( read: a lot) a Swiss region new to me. Outside German speaking Switzerland and the Catholic Church (read: The ones who know the Einsiedeln Abbey), Schwyz is pretty unknown. While for the Zürich crowds our adventure destination of the pandemic (also kind of a paradise) is the closest and the most whole family friendly there is close by. (Beware if going, the traffic is busy in weekends. Especially in good weather.)

    On the downside, for a liberal young woman like me, it’s a region with very conservative and traditional to the extremes character and voting habits. But for many winter activities, when there is snow enough, it’s a pretty nice place. It has the Nordic skiing areas in Einsiedeln, Rothenthurm and Studen,  and small ski resorts (though we kept away from resorts this winter) as well as good skitouring areas in Brunni and Oberiberg. Not to forget, the remarkable mountain of Mythen and the good restaurants and cafe´s in Einsiedeln, when no pandemic restrictions around. 

    Microadventures On Skis

    From previous experience, I already knew how fun skitouring and nordic skiing is, far away from the lift lines, crowded slopes and noisy afterski bars. But if I have understood right, for my companion it took the pandemic winter to properly get how good it is to suffer more and enjoy less. Or well, it’s not really suffering and I always enjoy a lot on these tours as well. Except when I am “a little” tired and my old boots cause blisters and achy footbeds. Which always happens.

    But really, it’s very nice to move forward and upwards one step – or in this case slide – at a time. And repeat. And repeat. Listening the sound my skis and poles make with the snow, or the occasional talkative passer by. And finally, reach the flow in the middle of beautiful nature or on top of the mountain and the great powder run down. Mix of a fatigue and a great achievement.

    And skate skiing <3 which is basically dancing on snow.

    Right now, after a very springy period, the winter is back with proper March snow. Or as it’s called in schwiizerdütsch: Märzschnee. I haven’t yet packed away nor sold my skis and seems like there is another good winter adventure (or two) waiting this weekend.

    It’s a shame though the restaurants and cafe’s – and especially the terraces now in spring – have to keep shut still. Because they are the third best thing in the Swiss winter sports, after the mountains and the snow. Though another good thing I have noticed the past months is that Lapland prepared me well for not just all the shovelling but also for all the touring adjusted to the pandemic rules.

    No problem to carry my own snacks and water. No problem to have snack break on my skis, breathing in the fresh winter air, with the beautiful nature right at my fingertips. And really no problem when the Swiss winter sun shines, the birds sing and other people keep the proper distance.

    Wilderness has it’s perks, but so does this kind of Schwiiz (Schwyz) winter.

    I just wish I had sauna too.  

    pandemic winter tiina kivelä

    skitouring mythen

    skitouring wooden skis

    soulskiing

    skier

    winterwonder

    winter drive

    nordic skiing

    skate skiing

    nordic track

    einsiedeln

    einsiedeln

    mythen

    mythenregion

    skitouring

    soulskiing

    views

    retkellä

    hello

     

    skitouring 2021

    mythenregion 2021

    winterwander

    vanlife winter


    *All the neat packing is done by Swiss in the family, since I have not reached that preciseness and order of the average Swiss. Though I am becoming close with my excels, trello boards and nicely stacked and labeled storage units both here in Switzerland and Lapland.

  • BLOG
  • The Most Persistent Loser

    Trübsee Langlaufloipe

    I don’t hate you for failing.  I  love you for trying.

     I had this “quote” (somewhere credited to Marge Simpson, no knowledge of the original idea) on my wall for years. And it’s no wonder then that the “Mont Blanc’s most persistent loser” -description (of Marc-Théodore Bourrit in Fergus Fleming’s “Killing Dragons – The Conquest of the Alps” book I am currently reading ) hit my nerve as well.

    (Btw that^ book again is full or annoying arrogant or simply just rude dudes, and I am still looking for more mountain books of good men and especially of and by the brave women. Feel free to drop them to me by email or in the comments.)

    Of course it would be way nicer to be the winner always. To succeed, reach goals and just do amazingly all the time. But while that’s not the case, it’s better to try and try. To do and just go for it. Even with the possibility of failing, it’s better to dream and try than waste life by dreaming but not reaching. Not even failure.

    Persistence and sisu. Stubborness and perseverance. Very good qualifications in sports, work and life in general.

    Eh and yes, this semi deep talk just randomly accompanies these cross-country skiing pics from February. Which basically don’t have anything to do with the persistence and reaching goals. I mainly ski just for fun and exercise, don’t aim for much, and it’s also been many years from my last race.

    I am not even sure if I really dreamed of one day skiing nordic in the Alps above 1000m where it really helps to have the good technique and endurance I have as a result of skiing nordic since 90´s. Also, very hard to think how one could really fail badly in this sport (as long as one doesn’t aim for Olympic gold).

    Falling may hurt, yes. Muscles most likely hurt after tens of kilometres, no matter how well trained previously. Or you may not reach the planned 20km because just can’t do it. (Or don’t have enough extra energy. Until now I have carried with me on my adventures these honey shots by Arctic Warriors – funnily named with the Finnish versions of perseverance, persistence and strength – and boosted my morning/lunch/dinner porridges with their berry powders * which now unfortunately are finished. And so I have made more restaurant stops in between skiing and suffer now of slight flu – hopefully not corona – symptoms.)

    In Lapland, frost may also bite. And skis and poles may break, for various reasons, which comes expensive.

    In general though, nordic skiing is pretty funny, especially on places like Trübsee in Engelberg where one can simultaneously watch the freeskiers come down from the higher glaciers, past and over snow covered crevasses and cliffs. Nordic skiing is not really risky sport, yet the sessions like in these pics are pretty rewarding and the ultimate experience amazing.

    And yes, if you fail it will not be as bad as a failure on the glacier or big scene in front of huge audience. And when you succeed, it just strengthens your confidence and endurance.

    Nobody climbs on skis now and almost everybody breaks their legs but maybe it is easier in the end to break your legs than to break your heart although they say that everything breaks now and that sometimes, afterwards, many are stronger at the broken places.

    ― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

    Tiina Kivelä Langlauf

    Trübsee Langlaufloipe


    Where: Trübsee, Engelberg/Titlis, Switzerland

     

  • BLOG
  • Some Skiing & Skier’s Dinner In Ski Lodge Engelberg

    Spannort Tiina Kivelä Photography

    It’s been an interesting winter in Swiss Alps. Or may I say bad, very bad.

    Not just for the poor conditions for cool fluffy powder turns, long scenic langlauf  tours and the pics (after all, I wanted to shoot more skiing and pretty snowy landscapes more than ever this winter) . It also makes me sad how bad this is in general for the environment, for the lifestyle we many so much love, and the livelihoods of these cute little villages in the heart of the marvellous Alps.

    Also the February, normally the last proper winter month in the Swiss Alps, hasn’t been this year even close to this excellence in Davos year ago (or maybe in Graubünden it’s been, who knows).

    Luckily there has been few good ski days, enough snow and cold days for few powder turns and even once the 11km talloipe open for good sunny (and full moon) skating style xc skiing. And more than else it makes me happy that the ski towns like Engelberg have so much good stuff to offer even on a bad winter (which is gonna be the norm in the future I am afraid).

    There are good cafés and bars to hang in, bakeries to buy excellent bread and other daily carbs, shops selling exactly what one needs (though not much extra, for which one is happy for the sustainable webshops especially), the Kloster Engelberg (celebrating it’s 900 year birthday in 2020!) and the restaurants.

    And while my heart (and tummy) always have a special place for the authentic mountain restaurants, ski huts and even the local Sporting Park pizza (who knows, knows), the Skier’s Dinner in Brasserie Konrad (Ski Lodge Engelberg) always deserves a extra mention when speaking of Engelberg restaurants. Especially on a week like this.

    It was a rainy warm evening this Monday, following way too warm (for February) xc skiing loops. But the food and athmosphere in the dinner (this time set up for locals) really made one feel that after all, it’s very good with just some excellent Swiss wine and three course menu close to perfection, enjoyed around big table with some good friends and lovers. Laughing and living.

    And of course, talking of this winter…

    Brunni Engelberg Freeskiing

    Brunni Engelberg Vapaalasku

    Ski Lodge Engelberg

     


    Where:

    Gross & Chli Spannort

     skiing Brunni (Brunnibahn)

    cross-country skiing schanzenloipe (Sporting Park)

    Skier’s Dinner Brasserie Konrad, Ski Lodge (during main ski season every night)

    Engelberg, Switzerland