The end of two years living in Switzerland

Wow. I can’t believe our two years living in Switzerland is over. On Thursday 27 July Andrew and I boarded a plane for San Francisco. Between flying back from Bulgaria on Tuesday 25 July and flying back to the U.S. on Thursday, we were busy. Immediately after checking into our hotel, we picked up our Mobility rental van to pick up all our belongings from our storage unit and close the unit.

All of our stuff as we took it out of the storage unit. We used a service called Zebra box, which was conveniently located in the city and had easy access for loading and unloading.
That evening we did our final packing. Similar to when we came over to move to Switzerland, instead of shipping we took all our belongings on the plane with us. We found it is about the same cost as shipping but beneficial to have everything with you rather than waiting for a shipment or needing to know where to have them send it. This is an issue when you don’t have a permanent address but need your belongings close at hand. We distributed weight among all the bags to meet the weight limits and also to help us limit the fees as much as possible. I have United Premier Gold status, which provides me two free overweight (70 lb) bags! This is a huge cost-savings when you’re transporting everything you own halfway around the world and an extra overweight bag can cost $400 a piece. We ended up with 13 bags, including our carry-on and the skis+boot bag (boot bags travel free with a ski bag). We are now self-proclaimed experts at airline baggage policies ūüôā

On Wednesday 26 July, we had a wonderful last day in Switzerland. We got up early to go meet our {now former} upstairs neighbor, Esther, from Avenue Juste-Olivier. She has been of invaluable help during our move out of the apartment and was our main line of communication with our non-English speaking property management company. She had agreed for them to mail to her house the letter that documented the agency’s agreement to release the restriction on our rental guarantee account. They had to send it by mail, so we agreed this was the easiest option for us. This account has held three months rent as a deposit on our apartment and the bank required this letter for us to get the money back. Over the past two years, our property management company has proven itself to be inefficient/useless/you-name-it and this time was no exception. Esther had to call four times since our close-out inspection on 30 June to get this darn letter for us, and they finally mailed it the day before we came back. But we got it! Phew! We said our goodbyes to Esther and her golden retriever Milo, some of the best neighbors I’ve ever had. After that we were able to go to our bank and release the cash. Now it’s all ready for a deposit on our next apartment in San Francisco ūüôā We are so thankful to have had Esther as a neighbor. She has proven to be genuinely helpful in many cases and always a friendly face. We’ll definitely miss her!

That afternoon we had scheduled to use our departing gift from KPMG, a 50 minute massage at Lausanne’s beloved Beau Rivage Palace Hotel.  The massage was perfect to relax in anticipation of our 15 hour flight back to the US. Afterwards we walked down to the lake to enjoy the beautiful day by renting a pedalo for an hour to cruise along the coast.


We had a drink at a lakeside bar and capped the day with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Cafe de Grancy.

Drinks at the Terrasse d’Ouchy
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Beef tartare for the last time

Chocolate overload for dessert but it was so good!
On Thursday morning we were up early to go to the airport. We hired a private transport to take us and all of our luggage since we wouldn’t manage on the train or even in a taxi. The transport had to bring a trailer because their van wasn’t big enough!

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Andrew in the morning as we were dropped off at the airport by our transport. This was one of two overloaded trolleys of our stuff ūüôā
The airline check-in staff had wide eyes when we arrived with our bags, but we had come early to allow for time. My United Gold status also came in handy a few times this day since I got a little quicker service. The flight went well, with no major delays though we narrowly met our connection in Newark. We made it to San Francisco and while the airline managed to get all of our bags to SFO, we ourselves, in our tired state, managed to leave one of them behind at the airport on the baggage claim belt. We had to go back the next day to claim it. Sigh. After a looong day of traveling we made it back home to our city. San Francisco.
I can’t help but reflect ….
As we have returned to the U.S. I have realized I need to work on my answer to the question that comes once someone finds out we just returned from our time abroad:  “How did you like Switzerland?”
The answer is becoming more refined over time, but I can tell you, my dear reader, a little longer of an answer. While I am so excited to be moving back to San Francisco, where I am familiar with the culture, I can speak the language, and we’re infinitely closer to family and friends; Switzerland was incredible. The country managed to stun me consistently with it’s beauty. I loved having the Alps as our backyard playground. Within a short 45 minute drive we could be hiking, skiing, or on a via ferrata! I’ll never forget how easy it was for us to wake up at a reasonable time on a Sunday morning and hike up in the pristine Alps to 3,000+ meters in a day and return to our apartment that evening in time to cook dinner. Let alone that view of Lake Geneva from our apartment balcony! The country is centrally located, allowing easy travel within Europe – especially by train. We saw and experienced SO MUCH during the past two years. It is mind boggling even to me when I look back at my blog posts and go through photos. I am thankful to having been exposed to the Swiss French culture of the Suisse Romande. We learned to love espresso, attempted the French language, savored the fresh bread, the chocolate … the CHOCOLATE, and always had access to so many amazing wines from our European neighboring countries. Goodness these are things I will miss!
But … Switzerland is far from our families and friends. It was tough to work with the 6-9 hour time difference and to schedule FaceTime dates since only weekends seemed to work with anyone, which is when we’re always on the move. We had trouble finding community. I recognize that we were partially responsible for our limited number of friends because we could have tried harder, but it was difficult. Not speaking French fluently was hard. We both managed to pick up enough to get by in restaurants reading menus and ordering, reading signs, communicating with cashiers in shops, etc but it wasn’t sufficient. It would have required signing up for classes and devoting a lot of time to learning – which we simply were not sure we wanted to commit the time to do. There are reasons why we didn’t decide to stay in Switzerland longer and these things add up enough to make it feel right to not stay.
Regardless of the above, I promise you that as we boarded that plane, I left with a feeling that all was right. We were
so fortunate to have had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go live and work abroad in Switzerland. We experienced so much and this blog is a testament to that fact.
Blogging status …
SO. Clearly the blog posts are on a delay. We’ve been busy having fun and bouncing all over, and we’re still on the move! I took a little break from blogging over the past couple weeks but I promise I am working to get caught up. I’ll continue to blog over the next month or so as we continue to travel and settle back in to SF. I am not yet sure of the future of the blog and whether I’ll stop, but for now I’m going to keep it going. I’ll keep you posted soon ūüôā

 

Lausanne & Gryon

Lausanne

On Friday after work we went to an ap√©ro de d√©part (going away happy hour) for a co-worker¬†leaving¬†for a two year rotation in the U.S.. It was fun to get to talk to her about what¬†she’s about to do¬†and¬†provide some¬†encouragement¬†for what it’s like to get your life started in a new country.¬†On Saturday¬†Andrew went around town to practice his photography skills. Here are some¬†photos of our¬†Swiss home town : )

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Down on the lake front in Ouchy
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The old town of Lausanne with St. François Church in the middle
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Looking down on the colorful buildings of old town Lausanne from Pont Bessiére
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Our office. We get a view of the Alps from the windows!
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My new skis! It’s the bi-annual sales period in Switzerland and I got these babies for 50% off (with bindings) on Saturday morning!

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A favorite meal of ours from the local restaurants in Lausanne¬†is souris d’agneau. This name translates directly to lamb mice in French and refers to the cut of meat we know of in English as the lamb shank. The dish comes in this heavenly, syrupy honey sauce. It was time for me to try to recreate the dish at home. I found a few recipes online,¬†watched some YouTube videos on braising lamb shanks and¬†got sage guidance from my sister’s boyfriend (thanks Dave!). Equipped with¬†all this and¬†two souris d’agneau from our local butcher up the street,¬†I got to work.¬†The finished product was SO GOOD and I have never been so proud. Definitely something to repeat in the future and add to my cookbook!

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The finished product served with rosti (Swiss style to serve potatoes). I ran out of patience to reduce the sauce to the syrupy consistency that I wanted, but the flavor was still incredible.

Gryon

Sunday we went for a 7 mile hike from the village of Gryon to the Refuge de Solalex for lunch. Upon arrival in Gryon we stopped at the local tourism office. For all the lack of operational hours in this country, one thing Switzerland does well is having a tourism office open in all the tiny villages we visit, every day, with tons of brochures, maps and super helpful staff. We rarely don’t visit them and rarely leave unhappy with the information we obtained.

The hike was fairly easy, taking us through the forest with many beautiful views. The restaurant had an outdoor terrace in the sun surrounded by towering mountain peaks. In normal circumstances with more snow you’d easily snowshoe or cross country ski to the refuge. Unfortunately, we have not had much snow recently and it’s been unseasonably warm. Still good for a winter hike!

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View along the hike. The big peak is the Dents du Midi, but from a north-west angle that we normally don’t see.

 

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Our destination for lunch!

We’ve really come to appreciate these remote restaurants like the refuge and the other cabanes, g√ģtes, buvettes,¬†auberges, etc. that give us a meal up on the mountains. Each one offers a different level of amenities and can be more crowded depending on it’s accessibility. While I appreciate eating¬†a home made lunch in the back country, away from it all, it can really take it up a notch when you’re able to get a cold beer and a freshly prepared meal on the side of a mountain at one of these restaurants as well!

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A typical Assiette Valaisanne
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The refuge had tables outdoors, which on this warm day was perfect. Alternatively, they have a cosy dining room inside with a roaring fire!

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November in Switzerland

November in Switzerland has shown up much snowier in the mountains than last year! In Lausanne it has just been clouds and rain but we’ve had fun getting up into the mountains the last couple weekends to see the snow.

Last weekend we had a bunch of social engagements, with a work party on Friday to celebrate the incoming first year class of audit staff, a dinner on Saturday with another couple from the U.S. who came here with KPMG recently, and Sunday we took the hour cogwheel train ride up to Leysin and met up with our friends Sarah and Kevin. We walked about 20 minutes to a viewpoint above their village and then had fondue at Restaurant Prafandaz. We tried flavored fondue for the first time and I’m telling you the tomato fondue was amaaazing!


After fondue they took us for a tour of their school as they work at a local American boarding school as teachers. We hung out at their place and got to see the snow come down as we looked out over the valley. It was so nice!

This weekend we didn’t have any plans and at the spur of the moment on Saturday after taking care of errands we booked a last minute trip to go up into the mountains to the village of Ch√Ęteau-d’Oex for a short night stay. This is in a different area than we typically visit, technically the “pre-Alps” so we were excited to get out there.

Accommodation: We have found we love staying in the little mountain B&Bs with breakfast and¬†Rosaly was exactly what we wanted! Each room had a huge balcony with a mountain view. ¬†For a reasonable price we got a room with shared bathroom – but we were 2 of 3 on our floor since it’s low season, so really not so bad having to share! The manager was also super nice and they had the cutest little cat named Souris (mouse in French).

Eats: We went to the Brasserie de L’Ours. They had their own brewed beer and excellent¬†food.

Our B&B with the view in the background
Andrew on the balcony Saturday night. We had some wine as the sun set ūüôā
Our room in the photos on the top and right. Bottom left is the breakfast room. Hanging up are the traditional Swiss cow bells!

On Sunday we got up and headed out for¬†snowshoeing. We did a 7 km, 3 hour loop to climb to the summit of Mt Chevreuils. It wasn’t too cold and the clear air provided gorgeous views. We even bought a little sled and did some sledding on our way back down! ¬†It was a great way to spend our Sunday.

From the peak we could look down into the valley below of Ch√Ęteau-d’Oex where we had just spent the night

That’s it for this weekend. Now it’s a week of work and then we’re headed to Basel next weekend to tour the city and visit the Christmas Market! Happy Thanksgiving everyone ūüôā

The girls are here!!!

My girl friends from JMU Emily (DC), Jenny (DC) & Maddy (NYC)  are on a Eurotrip and came to stay with us in Lausanne for a weekend before I’d join them on a trip into Italy. 

The girls arrived on Friday after visiting Vienna. That night we went out to dinner at √Čtoile Blanche and caught up as I hadn’t seen the girls since Christmastime last year. 

Saturday we started the day with a walking tour of Lausanne to show the girls our adopted home town. We went from the cathedral down through the shops and ended up on the lake front to have a light lunch and drinks in Ouchy. The weather was warm and sunny – super nice for hanging out!

Walking on Rue de Bourg
Peering in the windows before we stepped into one of our newfound favorite chocolate shops, Blondel
View of the Ouchy waterfront in Lausanne

In the late afternoon we caught the train and headed to tour the Ch√Ęteau de Chillon (which we visited with Cody & Kim earlier this year and Lauren last year). It turned out they were having a special Halloween party that day so there were tons of little ghosts and goblins running around. The weather is perfect for their time here so tons of beautiful pictures. 


Sunday we got up early to do a day of hiking and fondue in Ovrannaz. We hiked up to Grand Garde for a view and then moved on to a cabane for fondue. The trees were showing their fall colors and it was gorgeous!


Up at the Grand Garde viewpoint, with a panoramic view of the Rh√īne valley
View from the Grand Garde




Afterwards we hiked over to the , Le g√ģte de Lui d‚ÄôAo√Ľt. We rewarded our efforts on the hike with white wine and the girls’ first Swiss fondue on the mountain side!

The Cabane where we had our fondue
Having fondue at the Cabane

Sunday night we came back to have dinner at home and take the time to pack (me), re-pack (the girls) and get ready for the upcoming work week (sorry Andrew). It has been so fun to have the girls here visiting and to get to show them Switzerland. We had an awesome time exploring with them! Can’t wait to take the fun to the south as we head to Italy for the week!

Sunday dinner at our tiny little table ūüėä

We stayed in Lausanne for once!

This past weekend started out great. We were invited to go over to a co-worker’s house for ¬†a BBQ on Thursday night. He and his girl friend had just returned from a 3 week vacation in the U.S., traveling through California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. We were excited to hear all about it and to find out how they liked SF and the national parks. Also, our co-worker had just passed the last part of the Swiss version of the CPA so we had reason to celebrate! Side note: Andrew and I were happy to¬†get invited to a Swiss colleague’s home for dinner. We have been slow to¬†befriend many Swiss people, so it was exciting to be invited over. This is the second time this has happened for us in the past few months, and it took over a year of having lived here!

This weekend we had developed a grand plan to spend the weekend backpacking from cabane¬†to cabane¬†in the Berner Oberland – a part of the Alps in the Swiss German region that we do not frequent¬†often since it’s a little further away. We would have gone from Lauterbrunnen, to Griesalp and Andrew would have stayed an extra night as he had a holiday from work on Monday and hiked further on to Adelboden. We were really excited to do this. Unfortunately, mother nature had other ideas. It has been unseasonably warm and dry in Switzerland for weeks and the streak ended this Friday when¬†a big weather system passed through¬†with colder temperatures and LOTS of rain. The snow levels were looking very low, which implied the potential for snow on the higher mountain passes we needed to cross. Basically, things looked pretty awful up there and while we can handle some rain it did not sound enjoyable nor like we would see anything besides the ground in front of us. So, we cancelled ūüė¶ During the weekend we checked some of the webcams at the cabanes and they were in completely in a cloud or had gotten a few inches of snow. So, we made the right choice in the end.

As a result, we spent this past weekend in Lausanne, which turned out to be relaxing and not a bad thing since we were in between two sets of visitors, and next weekend we’re headed to Munich for Oktoberfest! On Saturday we ran some errands and walked around some shops in the old town of Lausanne, stopping for lunch at an outdoor table at Coccinelle-Caf√©. There was also a free music festival going on in Lausanne called Label Suisse, with stages set up all over the city and featuring¬†local Swiss artists.¬†We stopped by on Sunday to see the band LIA. It was raining but there was still a crowd catching the show.

There’s been a lot that has changed about our day-to-day life since we moved to Switzerland but one is the cost to go out to dinner and also the limited variety of restaurants. So I have been expanding my skills and trying lots of new recipes since we moved here. We have been eating such delicious French style food given where we live and our travels in France. This weekend I finally tried salmon tartare. While I may need one more go to get the recipe down, it was surprisingly easy and sooo good. Definitely a keeper for the future or a hot summer night when you don’t want to turn on the oven or stove.

Monday was a holiday in our canton of Vaud, and Andrew had off work. Since my client is in Geneva, in a different canton, the day was not available for me to take off but I traded the holiday for this upcoming Friday to be able to leave for Oktoberfest. So while I worked, Andrew went for a long hike (32 km!) through the entirety of Lavaux from Montreux to Lausanne. It was a little cloudy, which actually made for a beautiful setting with the sun peaking through the clouds onto Lake Geneva. The grapes are clearly ready for harvest soon!

From Monday to Wednesday, a friend from my business fraternity at JMU came to stay with us. Ashley was passing through while on a trip through France, Switzerland and Germany. I of course love having guests visit and it was fun to catch up with her as we hadn’t connected in a few years. On Monday night she arrived and we had dinner at the house while chatting about her travels. On Tuesday, Ashley went on her own excursion through Lavaux, first taking the La Suisse ferry along the lake coastline and then hiked up from Rivaz to have lunch at Le Deck while taking in the view. On Tuesday night, while Andrew had to stay in Neuch√Ętel for a work event, Ashley and I went out to dinner at Etoile Blanche. Luckily, it will likely not be the last time we see Ashley this week as we’ll all be in Munich this weekend for Oktoberfest!

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Ashley and I after dinner, with the Lausanne cathedral lit up behind us

Sara & Vince visit

This past weekend we were lucky to have our friends from San Francisco, Sara and Vince, visit. They were on a vacation in Italy and came up to Lausanne to spend Saturday night through Tuesday morning with us before flying back to the States.

On Saturday, their train from Italy arrived at 8:45pm. That evening, we made steak fajitas and hung out at our apartment, catching up on life and everyone’s recent travels. Sunday, we got up early and drove an hour to our first destination, which¬†was to take a 1.5 hour hike up to the ¬†Cabane de la Tourche.

View from the parking lot of our destination. Tough to see if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but the Cabane is a little bump on the slopes up on the left.
Sara & Vince in front of the Cabane
We made it!

We settled in at a table outside and had fondue while looking out over the mountains. It was Vince & Sara’s first Swiss fondue (yay!!!) and our first of the season. The view was breathtaking and the local Swiss wine washed it all down nicely.

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Eating fondue on the Cabane terrace. The mountains behind us on the right are the Dents du Midi which we hiked up a few weeks ago. It’s hard to tell with the clouds surrounding the peak, but Mont Blanc (the highest peak in Western Europe) is behind us on the left.¬†The views were beautiful as the clouds moved over the peaks.

Hiking down with a view of the Rhone valley below

The hike we found conveniently had Les Bains de Lavey right at the foot of the mountain. So, after our hike we hit the thermal baths and spa which are heated by hot springs running out from the mountains above. We sampled all the pools, jacuzzis, hammams and saunas. This was the first time we went into the Chromotherapy room. Really interesting … there are set times when you can enter the room. For fifteen minute intervals, you stay in the room, laying back on a rocking chair, and the room is lit in a themed color (ours was red), the room is scented and they play some reaaaaally strange music. Relaxing, if you like lions roaring and elephants trumpeting at times ūüôā Either way, an experience!

On Sunday night we had dinner at the house again just for ease. I made a chicken dish with a mustard sauce using the gourmet Dijon mustard we bought in Burgundy on our recent trip. And of course we had to bring out one of our bottles of Burgundy wine to pair with the meal!

On Monday, Andrew and I went to work while Vince & Sara toured Lausanne and took the ferry across the lake to Evian, France. We greatly benefited from their successful day of discovering the area¬†as we arrived home to a delicious variety of dried meats, cheeses, and sweets that they found while wandering the city.¬†That night, unfortunately Sara felt sick and had to stay home, but Vince, Andrew and I went to dinner at Caf√© de Grancy¬†which was excellent as always.¬†In the end, it was another visitor’s trip that was over too fast, but it was fun to have them here to show them around Switzerland and catch up.

Backpacking to the Auberge de Salanfe

The Auberge de Salanfe

This past Saturday morning¬†we packed our backpacks and drove a little over an hour to a trail head in the village of Van d’en Haut. We hiked 1.5 hours up to stay the night at the Auberge de Salanfe. The Auberge is a mountain inn and something like the cabane we visited on our hike last weekend (see prior blog post).¬†It offers a restaurant, private rooms, dormitory rooms and shared¬†bathrooms with a shower. Guests¬†can only walk up, but they have a road to be able to truck in their supplies. This was our first time staying in such a place, so we were super excited to see what it is like to stay in a dormitory room in the mountains with a bunch of other backpackers.

The Auberge de Salanfe, pictured at right, on Lac de Salanfe.

Upon entry, they request that you take off your hiking boots and leave them at the door. The notes attached are so groggy hikers don’t take the wrong shoes when they get up early in the morning ūüôā

When you go into the dormitories and are walking around, they request that you wear slippers to keep the house neat. They even have crocs available to borrow, at no cost.
For CHF 65 each, we got a double spot in this dormitory room. The Auberge was very organized, with everyone’s assigned spot picked out ahead of time and easy to find. Our room was one of three in this building and had 9 bunk beds.
We slept up here on the top bunk. It was surprisingly spacious and the beds were comfortable. They came with a pillow and a duvet, though they request that you sleep with a sleeping bag liner for hygienic reasons. We were clearly sleeping very close to our neighbors, but the wooden partition helped to prevent from waking up and staring at a stranger ūüôā
Here we are after everyone had checked in, stuff was everywhere! Part of the cabane-style etiquette is to have prepared everything for bed and for your departure the next morning before lights-out at 10pm, that way you make the least amount of noise while others are sleeping. This is helpful given breakfast starts at 4am when people are having their “alpine start” to the day!
A view of the Auberge and its terrace overlooking the mountains and lake. You can also see the balconies of the private rooms on the top level of the building pictured here. Those must be very nice rooms to have!
The Auberge comes complete with a bar. In the evening, everyone went out on the terrace to relax and have a drink before dinner. By this point in the day, it is almost entirely people staying at the Auberge. The view was beautiful. We sat and watched the clouds shift as the sun set over the mountain skyline.
The price we paid for our stay at the Auberge was “half-board” which means it included dinner, a night’s stay and breakfast. This is customary for such mountain inns and the remote cabanes. The dinner was served in a single seating at 6:45 and was three courses: a soup, main course (pictured above) and dessert (ice cream). Breakfast was simple: bread, butter, jam, cheese and muesli pre-mixed with yogurt. For a CHF 15 fee they even sell you a picnic lunch for the following day. We got one of these to supplement the food we brought, which included 2 locally made sausages, local “alpage” cheese (made from milk when the cows are spending their summer grazing in the Alps), an apple, trail mix, bread and a chocolate bar. Sooo nice for the convenience factor! The food wasn’t the best I have ever had but it was pretty good considering the circumstances.

Overall, the Auberge was in a beautiful spot and made backpacking so much easier. By offering us a bed indoors, we did not have to carry a tent, sleeping bag or sleeping pad. By  providing dinner and breakfast, we did not have to bring cooking tools or the food for two entire meals. It all really adds up in a lot of weight savings! Not to mention, the environment was really cool to be in. We were around backpackers of all ages, and everyone was in a cheerful mood having just hiked in the mountains and spent the evening hanging out with their family and friends. We were impressed how respectful everyone was of cleanliness and the quiet hours in the dormitory from 10pm Р6am. Everyone did their best to keep their belongings organized in the close quarters. Andrew and I woke up at 7am to get ready for our day of hiking and we were some of the last to rise. Most were up and out before 6am! Such a unique experience and an awesome way to tour the mountains. We are hoping to do this again soon.

Hiking

We did some hiking on Saturday after we checked in to the Auberge, but the main feature was our Sunday hike. The plan was to get up early and hike up the Dents du Midi. These are some of the highest peaks close to Lausanne, and some that we see views of ALL THE TIME. I mean, we stare at these babies every time we are driving out to the Alps for our numerous weekend hikes and ski trips and we also have a clear view whenever we go to Montreux (like for the Christmas market back in December or the Jazz Festival in July). So, it was a  goal to get ourselves to hike up to La Haute Cime, which is the only peak you can walk up without needing to use technical gear (mountaineering).

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Here’s a view of the Dents du Midi from the South and also of where our hike went. We started at the Auberge de Salanfe (1,942m) walked up to the Col de Susanfe (2,494m) which is the big pass on the left and then we hiked up that long slope from the Col¬†toward La Haute Cime (3,257m), the highest point in the center of the photo.

For some perspective, here is an old lithograph which shows the more commonly seen view of the Dents du Midi from Lake Geneva with the Chateau de Chillon in the foreground (We visited the castle with Kim and Cody back in April and Lauren in September).

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This is a lithograph from an unknown author, dated 1890-1905. It gives a nice image of the Dents du Midi that is fairly representative of what we see all the time (when it is snowy).
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Sunday morning view across the lake toward the Tour Sallière (3,220m) before we began our hike.
We met this lovely lady on the trail. The cows in the Alps never seize to amaze us. They are nimble with their feet as they navigate the steep terrain and as you can see, their diet consists of tons of flowers and fresh grass (another reminder of why Swiss cheese tastes so good!) This gal was part of a herd hanging out directly on our trail, so we passed very closely. Look at those cute fluffy ears, don’t you want to give her a pet?
View from the Col de Susanfe on Sunday toward the Tour Sallière. We were only half-way up at this point.
Andrew on the last stretch of our hike, when the trail got incredibly steep and was on scree. This section was at times very difficult to get your foot to grab hold without slipping due to the steep grade. That’s why he’s leaning forward so much – to use his weight to stay on the trail. This made us slow down considerably (also thanks to yours truly because I get nervous in these circumstances) on the last section of our ascent.
A view from the trail into the next valley.

We reached the Col de Paresseux (3,054m), the false summit just below the actual peak, after hiking just¬†over¬†four¬†hours. We tried to continue on to reach the final summit only 200m above, but there was quite a lot of rock scrambling required, we were starting to run low on time and the clouds were looking darker and more ominous¬†– implying an increased risk of thunderstorms, which is dangerous when you are hiking above treeline. Unfortunately, we had to make the call and we turned around with 150m left to the top. We forfeited our summit ūüė¶ We were both very disappointed, but sometimes this happens. In the end, we still get to say we climbed¬†to above 3,000m on the¬†Dents du Midi and¬†had¬†an incredible hiking experience!

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View from the mountain of the lake and the Auberge waaaay down below us

 

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We made our way back down the mountain, and continued on to get to our car to drive back to Lausanne. It was about 1,700m (5,600ft) of descent in one day and hiking from 8am-5pm meant our legs were suuuuper tired and sore. But all in all, another amazing weekend in the Alps!

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Oh, ya know, just another beautiful view along the trail
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Beautiful wildflowers all along the way!