Sunday, November 16, 2008

2009 Trip; Space Available!

What’s new with Ski Masters Europe?
· There is space available on the 2009 trip.
· Carol Mast sends greetings

First, Claudeen Lyle reports that a few spots have opened up for the 2009 trip to Wengen and Alpes d'Huez. (Perhaps some former hedge fund managers had previously signed up!?)

Interested? Act fast as they won’t last long. Contact Claudeen at or give her a call, the old fashion way, at 206-799-7141.

Second, after reviewing the Wengen report (Nov. 13th post), Carol Mast, a fellow traveler and prolific writer, offered the following:
“ HI Steve, from Carol Mast, who looks on the coming SMETrip with longing and (already!) regret. It seems [our] son… is going to be a Daddy for the first time …so we are again, reluctantly, going to miss out. …we wouldn't miss this arrival for the world...even if the world includes Wengen and Alpes d'Huez. Not without regrets...but....I'll bet you understand.

Which reminds me that in writing that Kitzbuhel/Corvara bit last year, I managed to mention our "Montlake friends" we spent the winter of 69-70 with in Jochberg twice without naming them. It's probably because it's another Steve...Steve Beaudry (who now teaches for Claudeen at Crystal) and his wife, Susan, one of my dearest friends. Mea Culpa...can you repair my ommission by inserting their names into what I wrote on the SkiMasters Blog?
Thanks from Carol
PS. when we manage to do another trip, I'm happy to write for the blog...and thanks for the bidet links [April 15, 2008 post]. After a lifetime of European travel, I have never used it for anything more than sock laundry and wine chilling (wait a minute...FIRST the wine chilling, THEN the sock washing!) and was glad to see the demo done by a fully clothed Italian man. Very educational!

So now the Beaudrys are duly recognized. We will miss the Mast’s but understand the grandparenting instinct.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wengen, Jungfrau, Grindelwald; First Stop 2009

March of 2009 Ski Masters will return to Wengen for the fifth time, and for good reason. The area offers a wide range of terrain, an incredible setting and a rich history.
Two classic movies added fame to the area; James Bond pursued evil guys on the Jungfrau in “His Majesty’s Secret Service.” Clint Eastwood climbed the towering Eiger in the “Eiger Sanction.” Both are "must see" movies if you are going on the trip. Skiers don’t have to climb the Eiger; a modern train passes through the mountain on its way to the ski areas of the Jungrau region.
Wengen has a unique setting. Travelers leave their bus in the valley town of Lauterbrunnen and board a cog railway for the wind out of the valley to the hillside town of Wengen. From the station it’s a short walk to the hotel (not unlike Zermatt for you seasoned travelers.)

Skiing is available on the Wengen side of the valley via a network of lifts and a train that links to other hillside towns. But the Wengen side of the valley is only half of the adventure; the Jungfrau Region, across the valley beckons with altitude and wide open runs.

To reach the Jungfrau area visitors take the cog rail line back down to Lauterbrunnen, walk a short distance to an incline railway that lifts you out of the valley to the Jungfrau area. At the top of the incline another train awaits for a short ride to Murren, the launching point for a whole new mountain experience.

It may sound like you spend your entire time on trains but that is far from the truth. The train rides are short and scenic and, once you reach your preferred mountain, you don’t need to ride again until the end of the day when you return to the hotel.

Recalling Wengen I’m reminded of a spoon story from the 1998 trip.

A small group was gathered on the hotel patio enjoying the afternoon sun and an adult beverage when we noticed a fellow traveler, we’ll call him Steve, returning to the hotel, skis over his shoulder.
“Where’s your wife?” someone called out.
Steve paused, an “Oh sh**” expression crossed his face. He came closer and, under questioning, explained that his wife, we’ll call her Lin, had gone on ahead to shop and was going to meet him at the Murren train station. In a rush he’d passed through the station, boarded the train and was now three train rides away from the station where his wife (presumably) was waiting.
Steve faced a dilemma. If he retraced his steps he could easily pass her as she went one way and he the other. There was only one thing to do; order a beer.
Some time and two beers later Lin arrived. No words were needed. Her look said it all.

There is no record of their conversation in the room that evening. We do know that Steve earned the spoon that day and, despite the incident, they are returning to Wengen for the 2009 trip.
Wengen will be a worthy first stop for the 2009 travelers.

The resort describes itself this way:
Wengen's ski slopes are located on the slopes of Männlichen and Kleine Scheidegg above the resort, which it shares with neighbouring Grindelwald. The regional Jungfrau pass covers all lifts in the area, as well as those at the separate First ski area above Grindelwald and, a train ride down the valley and back up the other side, at Mürren. That same train line continues up to Europe's highest railway station where there's year-round snow and ice, but sadly no ski route back down from the top.
The skiing can be reached either by getting back on the train you took up to Wengen from Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen and continuing up to Wengeneralp, a 25-minute journey that, except for upgraded rolling stock, has little changed for skiers in 80 years, or by a cable car from the village. Both runs open up all kinds of exciting terrain and great runs up to 8km (5 miles) long down to Grindelwald.
Whilst the whole area is open to intermediate skiers, beginners will find good nursery slopes right next to the village. More experienced skiers will wish to pay homage to the legendary Lauberhorn race course at Wengen, where the infamous downhill race is staged each January as it has been since 1930. The course is one of the longest, at 4km (2.5 miles), and toughest, descending over 1,000 vertical metres (3,300 feet).