Wednesday 5 December 2012

Snow shapes

For the last 4 days it's been snowing on and off. We've had about 80 cm's fall in the village. So today, in between snow showers and snow clearing, I took my camera out into Mottec to photograph some of the wonderful snow forms.

Friday 30 November 2012

Le Mazot - work in progress...

It's been 2 months since our first post about Le Mazot and things have changed - and not just the weather.    

We've filled in the old hole for the chimney and installed a new one. Which involved pouring a concrete pad that slopped and didn't drop onto the floor below, cutting new shingle tiles and making sure the new copper work was straight. A first and no one fell off despite the snow..

Inside we've installed a new floor, drains and made a new wall...

plus this week we've finished insulating the ceiling and have put up the new panelling...

We're still awaiting our planning permissions, but all being well we should get that in the next week and be able to start on the windows and walls

Monday 1 October 2012

The deer hunter - (la Chasse)

Last night's hunter's moon rising behind the trees
For the last two weeks the hills have been alive with the sound of gunfire while shortly afterwards trailers drive by with hooves and antlers sticking out at all angles. Not a good time to be a vegetarian, or furry. Here in Mottec our local hunter Rudolf and his friends have had one of their best years, with the biggest red deer stag yet - a 12 pointer - several chamois, roe deer and marmots.

Now on all the local restaurant menus
Even if it's not your thing, this is a highly important annual event that helps keep down the wildlife population. Without any preditors (wolves are thin on the ground around here) these animals would get too numerous and would end up starving to death once the snow arrives, a bullet through the heart seems the better way to go - the hunters are all good shots. 

Thursday 20 September 2012

Le Mazot - a new project...

Just over the road is Le Mazot - to some it's not more than a garden shed but this late 18th, early 19th century wooden chalet is full of charm and potential.

We're now starting the 4th week of our new renovation project and from the photos you can see that we have managed to tear the place apart - yes, you sometimes have to go backwards in order to go forwards....
Le Mazot interior - on the left is before - on the right is now...
There's a lot to do before December, but the aim is to give us a cosy place to live during the winter allowing Chalet Edelweiss guests full use of the 10 bed chalet. From next summer Le Mazot will be available to rent as a self-catered chalet for 2-4 people. Rumour has it that Edward Whymper may have stayed here when he came to the valley in 1864...

Monday 10 September 2012

Mottec fete 2012

The chapel dates from 1774
In 2008 we got involved in the first fete to raise money for a new roof for the St Laurent - the hamlet's second chapel. Four years on and the whole chapel has been completely renovated. Not just the leaking tin roof, but the damp walls and rotting plaster have all been repaired.
The fete took place in the centre of Mottec in front of the hamlet's other chapel
This weekend the second fete was held to help pay for it all. The two day event started with an official chapel opening complete with benediction, and went on to include lots of wine, music (everything from folk to karaoke), raffle draws and food. Hundred of people came  -  the total raised is still to be announced, but in 2008 the fete made chf 12, 400...

Tuesday 28 August 2012

The missing link...

  • 3 pylons
  • the 3rd longest cable way in Switzerland 
  • 2 cable cars carrying up to 125 people each
  • 7 minutes and 20 seconds 
will finally bridge the 3.5 km gap between Grimentz village and Zinal mountain from December 2013.
It's been a long time in planning but work finally began this summer on the new chf 30 million ski lift. Pads for the pylons are being dug and poured and buildings have been demolished to make way for the new station in Grimentz (it even has it's own web-cam so you can check progress). So even this winter one will start to get a feel of how things will be.

The new linked area will have over 120km's of piste and will mean that some of our favourite off piste routes will be repeatable more quickly. We also hope that most people will start their day in Grimentz where bigger carparks are being made for day-trippers, thus reducing the numbers coming up to Zinal. What changes it will actually bring are still 16 months away and only time will tell ...

Thursday 19 July 2012

Lakes and Mountians

The Val d'Anniviers is dotted with lakes - from the enormous man-made Lac de Moiry, to small pools that evaporate as the summer goes on, either way they make for great lunch spots on a walk.

This week we walked to a new lake - Le Louche - at 2567m it's the upper level of the Vallon de Rechy, a hanging valley high above the Rhone. Le Louche lake feeds La Reche river that cascades down then meanders across marshy plateaus in a series of distinct steps until it reaches Rechy in the main valley at 524m. This wild valley is worth exploring in summer (as well as on skis in winter), on our walk we saw eagles, chamois and marmots and in autumn it's a favourite haunt for deer.

Here are a few of the other lakes in the Val d'Anniviers that are great to walk to... 

Friday 22 June 2012

Alpine flower fest

Meadow of flowers above Mottec at about 2300m
Took a walk today up to higher ground above Mottec to photograph the flowers above 2000m. Here are a few we found - not all of then identified.
  • Lousewort (long-beaked or Ascending)
  • Arnica
  • Lousewort
  • Gentian
  • Snow-in-Summer
  • Pansy
  • Primrose (Birdseye or Long Flowered)
  • Trumpet Gentian
  • Geranium/Cranesbill with insect
  • Moonwort
  • Alpine Pasque Flower
  • Catsfoot
  • Alpine Birdsfoot Trefoil
  • Black Vanilla Orchid
  • Orchid
On the way back down we came across some Alpenrose starting to flower.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Blooming marvelous

Everywhere is a mass of flowers - the field behind Chalet Edelweiss is no exception. This afternoon I took a stroll and photographed a few of the thousands of flowers.

  • Bladder Campion
  • Harebells
  • Sweet Briar Rose
  • Catchfly
  • Globeflower
  • Rampion
  • Rhaetian Rampion
  • Lily
  • Scabious
  • Geum
  • Aqualigia
  • Rockrose
  • Buttercup
  • Lupin
  • Large Speedwell - to name just the above
Of course where there are flowers there are insects and butterflies equally as colourful and varied, as well as this Tortoiseshell I spotted Ringlets, Fritilarys, Whites and Blues - and that's just within a few hundred meters of the Chalet.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Ups & downs in the Gran Paradiso

To end our winter we joined a Mountain Tracks ski tour in the Gran Paradiso, Italy - just a couple of hours away from home. A fantastic week despite the weather - fresh snow and high winds changed the usual moving on journey through the mountains into a two centre base for some great day tours. The 'ups' of the week were summiting Punta (Bazel) Calabre (3445m), Tresenta (3609m), and the Gran Paradiso (4061m); the 'downs' included skiing great powder, tricky crust and porridge...

Benevolo and Victor Emmanuel huts
Skining and skiing through fresh snow

Summits of Tresenta and Gran Paradiso

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Look back on winter

With less than 3 weeks left of lift accessed skiing I thought it was time to look back on some of the fantastic ski days we've had here in the Val d'Anniviers this winter... But it ain't over yet.

December: Storms brought record amounts of snow and we were cut off for 2 days

January: Heli ski conditions for everyone including our Mountain Tracks off piste week.

February: Freezing temperatures and fabulous powder.
March: Still finding powder within the domain or with just a short skin to hidden spots.

April: Spring snow showers and still skiing back to the chalet
We've got lots more postings and pictures on our Facebook page.

Saturday 31 March 2012

Heli skiing and touring

In this part of the alps we have some of the highest peaks and some of the most spectacular heli landing spots. Last week we spent two unforgetable days, starting with a classic heli-drop on the Pigne d'Arolla, skiing and skinning into Italy for some fantastic snow, scenery and food.

We were guided by Dominique Fellay of Alpine Dreams, and flown by Heli Alps.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Get your skate skis on...

Skiing downhill is wonderful but not the best for keeping in shape. The answer during the winter months is to do a bit of skate skiing - a fast, dynamic version of cross country skiing. Just an hour and a half from us in Zinal is a mecca for the sport - Goms in the upper Valais.

It's well worth taking a lesson to get to grips with the basic technique. Damian Hischier (in blue, just in case you can't tell the difference between me and him) worked miracles, getting us up and running in no time. He's not quite your standard instructor - in the summer he's not a carpenter but a test pilot...

Damian teaching some tricks to skate skiing.
Just don't over-exert yourself before heading off on one of the wonderful routes that stretch down the valley:
between Oberwald and Niederwald the shortest route is 22km, a journey taking you through ancient villages, across meadows and past chapels. There are lots of alternative trails, twisting and climbing above the valley floor into the forest. But don't forget that what goes up must come down, which is no joke on these skis... There are also plenty of restaurants and bars - some serving the unlikely sounding dish 'cholera' (a sort of Swiss Cornish pastie with onion and apple); and you're never far from a railway station, so when you've had enough (cholera or skate-skiing) you can jump onto a warm train and trundle home. We stayed in the lovely Hotel Tenne, where they serve award winning food and have very comfy beds - perfect after a day's skating.

For our last day we headed down the road to the local downhill ski area of Fiescheralp where we enjoyed the views over the Aletsch glacier and explored with local hero Kilian Volken, a guide who is off to climb K2 this summer. After 30 + years of guiding, it's wonderful to find he's still as keen about skiing the local area, even in perishing cold and with the powder quite wind-blown. One of those inspirational characters you feel better for meeting and a huge pleasure to ski with.

Monday 6 February 2012

The big chill

Winter has finally arrived across the whole of Europe. Here the temperatures were -20 at the house this morning, rising to -10 by lunch-time. Swiss rail tracks have snapped in the cold and there are wonderful frost patterns on the window, but it's beautiful. The sun is out, the sky blue, snow clings to the trees and there's no wind.

Once out it's fine and the snow is skiing beautifully. We've been exploring some new routes and Eric's been wearing some sunny colours to warm up the pictures.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

All or nothing

Storms hit Switzerland and much of Europe at the beginning of the month.

We went over to St Bernard area to explore some of the little know resorts of La Fouly, Vicheres and Champex Lac, and found some interesting stuff, both resorts and snow. Over there the wind had reached speeds of 270km/per hour. Too strong to form any cornices, it left the tops of the mountains scoured back to rock in places, the snow having been shifted and dropped several meters along where it lay up to 4m deep.

Skiing through the trees was interesting too with the ground littered with large branches and whole trees. Still we found some wonderful stuff - a beautiful and quiet area away from the crowds of Verbier.
Back in Zinal, the tops of the mountains are also back to the rock in places, the first coulour on the Chamois is a boulder field and the top 20m down to the dam is exposed rock and grass. The snow has gone somewhere, the trick is to find out where and access how loaded it is...

Saturday 7 January 2012

Snow shoeing by moon light

After all the snow storms, last night was still and clear - perfect for a snowshoe trip by the light of the full moon. We just went up into the forest behind Mottec, and saw fresh snow hare and fox tracks, everything was beautifully quiet and the snow sparkled just like the stars.

Coming back into the village everything looked magical and certainly worthy of a picture or two.

Sunday 1 January 2012

Snow has fallen snow on snow....

After one of the driest autumn in the Alps for (some say) 150 years, the weather finally turned and from the 14th December we've had more snow than we could at times cope with. So much fell on the 16th that they closed the road for 1.5 days as a precaution against avalanche. Things have settled down now and since Christmas we've had more snow but some good skiing too in deep deep powder.

Once dug out, our new outdoor fireplace has made a great venue for some pre dinner vin chaud.

You can get an idea of the depth of snow from the garden room's roof.