When I got my job in Switzerland, I imagined myself living some kind of ski bum lifestyle, jetting off to the Alps every Friday after work and transforming overnight into a confident snowboarder by day, apres ski expert by night.
This is not quite the case, but I’m certainly getting more time on the slopes than I did in Manila.
In February, still chasing those mystical cruisy-blues that snowboarders love, Dan and I booked a weekend in Gstaad. Steve had recommended Lovell Camp as a great place to stay, so we went ahead and booked their apartment (which sleeps 5), a private room, and a full dorm that, upon calling, I learned you could book out just for two people. This is how our group of 9 (and one adorable 1-year-old) ended up cracking beers in the apartment living room on the first Friday night in February.
It had not been the easiest journey. In the morning, Dan dropped us at work. We’d loaded the car in advance with bags of food and drinks, boards and gear, and backpacks. The plan was that Dan would return for us at the end of the day and we’d hit the road.
As he drove the car to his campus, the check engine light flashed on, followed by some other new indication that something else was wrong. He spent the afternoon trying to find a mechanic and then, when the mechanic admitted he probably wouldn’t look at the car until after the weekend, a rental car. Fortunately, the rental car was covered by our insurance and worked out just fine. Unfortunately, the actual car needed significant repairs that were not cheap.
In any case, we made it to Gstaad, grabbed pizza in town, and hit the hay early. I love being on the first gondola up; the first hour on the mountain, before lines form and more people arrive, is a dream: fresh snow, fewer chances of mowing down a child or skier, and quiet calm.
Dan and I had pre-loaded our lift tickets online using TicketCorner, so all it took was Dan dropping me off at the bottom of the gondola and I was off.
I can confirm that Gstaad’s slopes are indeed a dream for snowboarders. I took the gondola up from Saanenmöser to the top, boarded down, and then discovered the Hornberg chairlift, which was even better. After a few runs, I boarded down to meet everyone at the bottom of the gondola, and up we went.
I am used to snowboarding alone, but I have to say, it’s way more fun with friends. Jo and Kate skied, Lauren and Johno boarded, and Dan, for what was only his second time on a snowboard, held his own. For wide slopes and a good time, I highly recommend Gstaad. We also got lucky with the weather, which helped; a sunny morning turned into a sunny afternoon at a restaurant overlooking the mountains. After a few beers and some rösti, we did a few more runs and then called it a day.
There’s really nothing that compares to the joyful exhaustion you feel after a day on the mountain. I guess if I did this more when I was younger, I’d be hitting the apres ski scene a lot harder, but now the thing I look forward to the most is a nightcap beer and my head hitting the pillow.
Lauren and Dan made 9-humans’ worth of spaghetti and the rest of us ate until we couldn’t anymore.
In the morning, a few of us rented snowshoes and hiked alongside the non-snowshoers through sunshine and snow drifts, and then it was time to head home.
For the first time in a long time, I felt good on my board. I was itching to go back to Gstaad, and we’d even booked space again for the following weekend, if our car was fixed in time. Unfortunately, along with getting my snow legs back, I and half our crew got COVID as well, so it’ll be another season before I reunite with Gstaad’s cruisy slopes.
Until next time.