We all arrived in Stechelberg tired after an early start. After meeting one of our regular guides we took four cable cars to get to the summit of the Schilthorn to be greeted by none other than James Bond himself. Schilthorn was Blofelds lair in the film “On her majesty’s secret service” and the area doesn’t miss a beat in marketing this to the limit. A cardboard cut out of Bond with his Walther PPK pulled and other memorabilia create a Bond theme for the thousands of tourists that flock here daily.

The name is…
As we exited the building to bright sunshine we were more focused on the view of the surrounding mountains and trying to plot the route of our own Bond inspired adventure of the day. Directly north of us lay our playground for the day, the Soustal, but to get to it we had to first traverse the west ridge from the Schilthorn. It is possible to ski this ridge and our second group which was made up entirely of skiers with a second guide did end up doing this. But our group being made predominately with snowboards we decided it would be safer to hike the ridge with our skis and boards strapped to our backpacks.

Looking over our playground for the day.

As we walked down the steps that led us away from Mr. Bond and the tourists a sense of anticipation hung in the air, skis and snowboards strapped to our backpacks we hiked the ridge westwards to get to our first ski/board descent of the day. Our guide, Reini, cut footholds with his ice-axe to make the more difficult sections of the ridge somewhat easier and those of us who suffered from vertigo did our best not to look down…

Hiking along the ridge from Schilthorn

After some time we got to the saddle and prepared our skis and boards for the first descent. A short drop down a shoulder and then we traversed into our first slope of the day. We gingerly rounded some rocks and grouped at a safe place before dropping one at a time into the slope. Here on the north side of the ridge the snow was still perfect despite the warm temperatures. We took the first few turns very carefully as there were still some rocks hidden under the snow but once we got into the face properly the snow was deep and soft.  We could enjoy turn after turn until our legs burned and our smiles widened.

Dropping in for the first descent of the day

 After the first descent and a short traverse it was time to ascend. Boards were quickly split, skins mounted and skis put into climbing mode. Under a perfect blue sky we set off to ascend 300m over a small pass to get to the slopes of the Hoganthorn. At 2600m we stopped to take in the view, directly across the valley almost within touching distance was the imposing north face of the Eiger. Reini listed off the surrounding mountains with an affection that reminded me of someone pointing out family members and loved ones on an old photograph. For a few minutes we sat and drank in the views and enjoyed the solitude of being out in the middle of the mountains away from the hustle and bustle of the ski areas before setting about removing skins and preparing for the descent ahead.

Skinning to our second descent.

I pointed my skis downhill, picked up a little speed and cautiously pushed into my first turn. The snow was soft, grippy and forgiving all at once, the kind of snow that encourages you to ride harder, faster. Pushing into one turn, releasing the skis and letting them bounce you into the the next turn. The kind of the descent that made you feel like you had the whole freedom of the mountain,  the movements felt effortless as I carved my way down the mountain. As we regrouped at the end of the slope high fives were exchanged with whoops of joy before continuing onto the next pitch of our descent.

Eiger North Face just right of center.

Reini, led us across traverses and through coulouirs each time opening up another slope for us to play on. The snow gradually got heavier as we descended, but the fun continued the whole way to the valley floor. Here we took a short break and recounted the best parts of our descent before once again mounting our skins for the hike out of the Soustal back towards Lauterbrunnen.

Our guide showing us the way.

Tired from the days efforts under perfect sunshine we arrived at the cablecar station just above Lauterbrunnen. In a few moments we were back in Lauterbrunnen and enjoying much needed beverages while reflecting on another great day in the mountains.

Perfect Powder.

Freeride days or weekends like this and the avalanche or deep snow courses we organise would not be possible without great cooperation with our individual guides and the Alpine School Berg und Tal. We’ve had some great experiences this winter with them and I am looking forward to developing many more adventures next winter with them. The planning has already begun! If you want to get out in the mountains with us on bikes, skis or boards then join our community on www.swissalpineadventure.ch or like us on facebook.

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