Ski safari? Never again! It’s early on a Sunday morning in February 2017, and I’m up to my hips in snow, while my six-year-old son is up to his neck. Our skis and poles lie scattered under and around us on the hillside. The big kids are already a good five hundred meters away, in the best of spirits, while, further up the slope, you can hear the whining of the smaller skiers on the steep slope. For more than an hour, we’ve been plowing through the fresh snow that has fallen over the Mythen region overnight in massive quantities. So it’s back to my feet, free the ski bindings and boots from snow, snap on the skis and say a few encouraging words to my little son.
We’ll never do this again – that’s what I’ve said to myself every year – for the last three years. And, every year, the four dads and eight kids are already looking forward to the next ski safari. The anticipation of the cozy evening in the cabin, the homemade ski jump in front of the house, the snowy forests and slopes, the children’s jokes in the gondola (always the same ones!), the dented cheese sandwiches in aluminum foil from the backpack, and the memories of the great adventure make them instantly forget the tears and frustration of the last ski safari.
The ski safari itself should actually be a breeze. The website promises a three-hour, 14-kilometer-long round-trip through the charming foothills of the Alps – from Illgau through Handgruobi to Hoch-Ybrig and back again. We always start on Saturday midday at the Laucheren chair lift, are surprised every year by the unexpectedly heavy snowfall, and arrive at the Chruthütte cabin between Windegg and Illgau in dribs and drabs at dusk. Thanks to the wood-burning stove and the twelve people inside, the temperature in the tiny cabin, which has no electricity or running water, climbs in barely an hour from biting cold at minus degrees to a sweltering 30 degrees. The over-excited and exhausted children eagerly eat their spaghetti, and then crawl into their sleeping bags on the upper floor. Over a bottle of Einsiedeln beer, the dads wonder, as every year, where all the snow could suddenly have come from, and whether there will be any piste vehicles to smooth out the path to Illgau on the Sunday morning, as was also not the case last year. One of them remarks that the children are getting bigger and bigger.
I say that my four-year-old son has never come with us before. It’ll probably be time for that this year.
So here’s to the New Year, when it’ll again be time for: the ski safari. Because outdoors is simply better.