Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2013-2014

Dispatches from way, way behind the lines in Switzerland

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Back to La Riondaz

Parking at the Quarry (29 March 2014) at the top of the village of Leysin, ca.1480m: a place for our first rock-climbing instruction, not terribly successful, and our old trailhead for runs and ski trips up the Leysin mountains.

Next to the Quarry -- the Villa Florence (the white building), where we lived on that wide balcony floor around the time of Marlowe's earliest years (ca.1982-1986).

The Dents de Morcles on the horizon, the village of Panex at lower right

A farm building just above the Quarry. We've been moving house in the valley for the past month, and had no idea what to expect for snow up here in Leysin.

But, as to snow in late March this year, we'd feared the worst, and this is much worse.

Looking down upon the Prafandaz restaurant (left) and out on the right, a picnic spot with views out over Lake Geneva.

A fake chalet -- it's really an anti-aircraft gun. Or it was, back in the day.

A farm in the Bois de Prafandaz at 1639m

Up the road -- a beautiful day but there's only the Wreck of Winter underfoot

Snowshows are welcome here (ours are hanging off the backpack).

A parting of the way -- we're going up.

Finally: the abandoned ski-restaurant of Solacyre and La Riondaz awaiting us

Solacyre (1827m): the grassy lump on the left was once the flat top of the skilift that topped out here. Back when we had snow in the winter reliably -- before the Climate Change Hoax.

The ski restaurant of Solacyre. Snowshoes on now.

We proceed up somebody's downward track before us.

We leave the earlier tracks and resort mainly to memory -- there's a summer path that winds back and forth up through the avalanche walls, and as the snow is so purely slush right now, we'll insist upon the safest route we can find.

I think this was a favorite short-cut. We were up La Riondaz over a hundred times back in the day, in all weather, routes, and times of day, but now, who knows? Some things look familiar, others don't.

We're on the ridge between the southern and eastern sides, looking at the front side of La Berneuse on the left, Mont d'Or (behind the scraggly tree), and Pic Chaussy on the right, at the head of the Ormont valley.

Across the east side of La Riondaz: La Berneuse, and both the Tours d'Aï and Mayen in the background

Tour d'Aï on the left, with the Berneuse turning restaurant Kuklos in front of it, and Tour de Mayen in the centre, with the top of the Berneuse skilift

Up towards the top of Riondaz -- it's all slush on this side.

We continue up the southern side, through the avalanche walls.

The snowshoes are just getting in the way as often as not.

That's where the trail goes back out onto the east side.

The last leg of the trail

The metallic square on the rock is a memorial to Jean-Pierre Hefti, a splendid fellow from Leysin who died in 1987 descending Gasherbrum II in Pakistan, on skis, in adverse conditions.

The Rhône valley

We've punted on the summit ridge because of the slidey slush, and it's time to start down now.

Retracing our steps


The long sludge out


The Cornettes de Bise across the Rhône valley (the French border runs along the top)

Prafandaz views

With Dents de Morcles on the horizon

The chalet with no bottom on it


The restaurant

The Prafandaz restaurant, once rated by Playboy magazine (it's said) as serving the best fondue in the world. Marlowe's mom was working here about the time we met.

The Rhône valley

Bag's End (Marlowe's mom was living here, before the days when it had heating)

Bag's End, much transformed over the years

Villa Florence (centre), just down the hill from the Quarry

The old skilift from Solacyre passed alongside the house and we could shout encouragements back and forth. Our subsequent lodgings, the Chalet Pollux, were at the bottom of the skilift.

La Pyrole, or "the Doctors' Villa", from the Belle Epoque days of the Grand Hotel -- that was the American College Library from 1982 to 1991. The solar panels came later.

Click here

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 14 April 2014.

Recent Events