The Lauterbrunnen valley has some of the best views in the Alps. From Murren (above) you get fine views of (from left) the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau and then a great wall of mountains from the Rottalhorn to the Breithorn. Vicky and I are here for a few days in February as Sasha, her brother, has taken over the apartment in Champery.
We have booked into the hotel Silberhorn in Wengen, right by the station and bang in the middle of town. We can see the cable car station (above left) out of our bedroom window. As well as the location, the rooms are comfortable (if so dark you can't find your clothes in the morning) but the dining room is a throwback to the 70s with rather dreary salads and a pianist seranading you through dinner. Fortunately the staff are very friendly and there is a very cosy little bar. At the spa we have massages by the Siberian masseuse (very into pressure points) but chicken out of using the nude, mixed sex sauna!
We have had a soft spot for Wengen since coming here a couple of years running with North London friends and staying at the fabulous Bellevue des Alpes at the top of the mountain. As well as the fab views there are terrific long runs to Wengen and Grindelwald. We re-discover the long run from the top of Honegg to Grindelwald and ski the freshly groomed "corduroy" all the way to the very classy Aspen restaurant where we stop for drinks. Restaurants are also a great feature of the resorts - on Saturday we enjoy perfect weather and fantastic service as we lunch on the terrace of the incomparable Wengeneralp.
Wengen is also the home of the Down Hill Only (DHO) ski club. We meet Terry and John, two long time DHO members nursing their injuries in the Silberhorn bar. After a friendly chat they invite us to the club the following evening to meet other members. The age profile on a Friday evening in early February is pretty high and we feel quite youthful in comparison. Many members have places in the village and all have been coming here for years, often having learned to ski and race with the DHO as kids. It is harder for the younger generation to participate, challenged by mortgages, school fees and the high Swiss franc. We hear however that DHO still has a larger and more active race training program than the rival Kandehar club over in Murren. We see Terry and John along with other Wengen regulars the next day in a bar in town where Ireland are trouncing Italy in the Six Nations Rugby tournament.
On Sunday morning we check out early and catch the 8:32 train down to Lauterbrunnen where we stow our bags in the car before taking the cable car up the other side of the valley to Murren. From the top station a little train takes you along the side of the valley towards the ski area and village. We are here to see our old friends the Rigbys - last seen in Singapore - who have a chalet in the resort. We are much too early - they are still having breakfast - but Simon races over to meet up at the top of the Winteregg chairlift and guides us around the runs. Vicky's hip is feeling fragile so we turn down the offer to ski the steep blacks at the top of the Schilthorn but we still enjoy great skiing and beautiful scenery. Sarah joins us in the Gimmeln restaurant where we are having a coffee stop and skis with us until lunch in the Suppenalp - a traditional climbing hut with more great views and tasty (if slowly delivered) salads, Rösti and käseschnitte. On the way down we stop by their lovely apartment in the village before making our way back to the train at Winteregg.
It is less than two hours to drive home to Basel. In two weekends time we will be back in Champery - hopefully for more snow and sunshine.