Snow Canyoning was huge before global warming started…
Snow Canyoning was huge before global warming started…
First I thought moles, but as we got closer, I knew we finally discovered the secret breeding ground for Christmas Trees. I’ve never really tried geocaching, but I reckon fresh snow geocaches would be heaps of fun – except – when you want to hide a snow-cache you’d need to do some serious planning ahead – if you don’t want to give it away to easily.
„Whiteout is a weather condition in which visibility and contrast are severely reduced by snow and diffuse lighting from overcast clouds.“ (from Wikipedia)
What a great day to explore untrodden ground and discover the Void. Chances of getting lost? Pretty good, if you are not familar with the area. Reference points? None! – Hmm, well… your partner. If you’re an expert with the altimeter and the compass – or if you have a GPS device, you can greatly increase your chances to find your way back – after snow and wind have taken care of your tracks. Otherwise, good luck and get ready for the bivvy!
After figuring out whether to fix the bindings regular or goofy, there was nothing to stop him. Getting a feeling for the right balance is the first step to a successful snowboarding career. Secret hint for anyone who wants to have a go – do not wear too many thermals on a warm day! Our friend lost an estimated 3 litres of sweat this day…
I was really impressed by Aaron’s performance. He said he did water skiing before. Good on ya mate!
I don’t know how often he fell over that day, but he always got up again. Good spirit, and that’s how you learn it.
Champion performance! Have fun practising on Mount Ruapehu as soon as the season starts!
This is a secret tip for all Zipflbob enthusiasts out there. The winter season is ending. Most ski resorts have already closed, or are about to close. Why? Probably because the snow is melting, it has been a long season and everybody needs a break, or because people are now getting onto their mountain bikes instead of their skis and snowboards. Now here comes the hint: While the meadows are already green in the valleys and up to about 1200m, there is still compressed snow on the runs, which lasts a little bit longer. As long as you stay away from the grassy bits and try to not destroy the recovering ground, you can still enjoy Zipflbob rides for a little longer. And the best of all – you are almost by yourself as hardly anyone is keen enough to walk up instead of taking the gondola when it is not running.
So before Zipflbob and Zipfljo go hibernating in the basement over summer, they wanted to head for the slopes once again. So here we go. Zipflbob takes the big backpack with all the good food, drinks and the warm and waterproof cloths for the downhill ride. Waterproof turned out to be a bit of a joke, but more about that later…
Since it snowed just a few days ago, walking up was tough. But you really turn into explorer mode when you set your feet in fresh snow and go where nobody has gone before (well, not since the last snowfall at least).
Once you get up, you enjoy the view – green valley, snow covered mountains. You drink some tea, chop some food and then you get dressed up and ready for Zipflbobbing. Here come the tactics: Figure out who has less weight. Let that person go first. Why? Because it will be much easier for a light person to go through 10-20cm of „fresh“ wet snow than it is for a heavier person. That way, the first Zipflbobber already leaves a nice track that the second one can follow at an incredible speed.
Next tip: You do not want to go down where it is too flat. It does not need to be super-steep (beware of avalanches and do not take any risks!!!) , but you don’t want it to be flat when the snow is deep and wet. The one, who is leading has to navigate. Tough job. Tip for the one following. Be prepared to break when the Zipflbobber in the lead needs to break. Or perform a super-crazy stunt to get around them or over them. The latter one is for experts only!
When you increase speed on a steeper slope and you get into more flat terrain, Zipflbob turns into a snow mower. I forgot to mention that you should really really wear some proper goggles. Dramatically increases fun, vision and face temperature.
Now if you follow these instructions and you watch out that you can break at any time, for instance if deer crosses the slopes or you get to some red lights, you should be alright – Park Zipflbob and Zipfljo at the end of your run and let them dry. I cannot over-emphasise drying. I have yet to find waterproof clothing which actually stays waterproof. Believe it or not. I had the equivalent amount of snow of 2 snow balls in the inner pocket of my jacket. Don’t ask me how it got there!
May have been the last Zipflbob trip this season. I need to work out how to make Zipflbobs work in summer. I’ve got the wheels figured out, but the brakes are still a bit of a problem. I am pretty sure you need them, but I have no idea how that would work. So all you engineers out there who think you’ve got the idea to make this work, get in touch!
Glad to welcome Aaron, a friend who came for a short visit from Aotearoa.
Two years ago, I did some experiments with Christian and Rob, another Kiwi who came over from New Zealand for a visit. Back then, we thought that proper winter pants were fully overrated. We also thought that a rubbish bag is good enough for getting down a mountain. I guess this is still true, but if you do have a Zipflbob, why would you want to torture yourself? Kudos to Rob though – true explorer spirit riding a rubbish bag down a world cup run in shorts!
Anyway – today, two years down the track, we have learnt our lessons and wanted to pass on our experience. We got Aaron dressed up and introduced him to Zipflbob. They immediately made friends with each other and Zipflbob promised he’d give everything on the descent.
But first, it was time do some climbing. Inspired by the Kiwi experience, Zipflbob made his way through the fresh and deep snow.
This is when you feel like a true explorer.
Zipflbob on untrodden ground.
You have to admit, Aaron does look a bit like Jack Nicholson preparing for a Zipflbob ride.
Lift your feet and lean backwards to increase speed. Press you feet into the snow and pull the Zipflbob back to break and get your face covered in snow.
I reckon there is some business case potential in developing little solar powered goggle wipers.
After we already had spring temperatures up to 19 degrees C last weekend, winter thought this really is pathetic and decided to come back for some extra time. It was snowing pretty hard for about 2 days – then we got a bloody cold night with temperatures around -15 degrees C. When I got up the next day and drove to work, the landscape just looked fantastic. All trees were coated with ice crystals, the sun was shining and the sky put on the best blue in stock.
Now there was something really interesting I discovered on that day as well. I had taken a banana to work the day before, but had forgotten it was still in the car. Trust me, the banana was yellow. Not green, not brown – it was yellow. However, during that freezing night, an interesting metamorphosis must have been happening. The banana turned dark brown – or to be honest, it almost turned pitch-black. It looked pretty much like the bananas you get when you wrap them in aluminium foil and chuck them into the fire for a while to enjoy them with vanilla ice cream and honey afterwards.
On the weekend, we took Zipflbob and his girlfriend, Zipfljo, out for some winter hiking. We thought it would be a good day to show them the Zipfbob god monuments. They are really famous, but Zipflbob had never seen them before.
We continued our walk and came past a huge caterpillar, which was parked next to the track.
Zipflbob got very excited and in the 5 seconds when we didn’t pay attention, Zipflbob was already on his way.
Luckily, there were no keys left, so we got him off the drivers seat before he could do anything stupid. A little further on our way, we discovered some snow-capped conglomerate rocks, which are called Nagelfluh. We explained to Zipflbob that these rocks were formed long before he was born. I think he was very impressed when he heard that a nature reserve called „Naturpark Nagelfluh“ would be created soon.
After about an hour and a half, we got to the top and Zipflbob took in the view.
He loves the mountains and he was happy to come up here and enjoy the 360 panorama with his girfriend, Zipfljo.
They moved close together and Zipflbob told Zipfljo that he loved her and wanted to be with her for his whole life. He said that he wanted to have many many Zipflbob kids with her and then also take them up here. They kissed and then prepared for the downhill ride home.
The runs were in top condition and since there were few people on the slopes, we allowed Zipflbob and Zipfljo to go full speed. It was heaps of fun and some of the best Zipflbob riding we’ve done this winter. Zipflbob, Zipfljo – YOU ROCK!
I wrote about how spring is driving away winter really early this year. Well, we thought we should do a trip to Zipfelbob’s home. May quite well be the last chance for some Zipflbob action this season. Since I presented the flower shot yesterday, here is another proof for global warming – end of February and we’ve got the butterflies coming out. Hope the little bugger will find some of those flowers we saw yesterday, otherwise he’ll have a hard time waiting for the nectar to become available.
The slopes that are more exposed to direct sunlight loose snow earlier. So while there is still a fair bit of snow on the slopes that get only a few hours of sunlight during the day, you can pretty much walk on browns grass on the sunny slopes already.
And here we are – this place is called „Zipfelsalpe“ and it is where Zipflbob was born. Seriously this is where Zipflbob grew up and went to Zipflbob school. He also met his first Zipflbob girlfriend here, before he decided to look for a dignified rider, leave home and see the big world to enjoy the real adventures.
He used to play on the roof – he actually still enjoys doing that.
Too bad we didn’t have much more time to take Zipflbob out on the home slopes for some spring riding. I’m sure he really appreciated the trip though!
In summer, you can see amazing limestone formations which are covered by snow in winter. Take a closer look and you can spot ski touring tracks. Don’t take it too easy though – there are huge holes hidden underneath – just like crevasses in glaciers.
Guess why they build doors that open to the inside.
Hope you don’t mind people walking on your roof. If you do, create some artificial crevasses by leaving a few windows open.
Conditions got better in the afternoon and the snow storm eventually calmed down. We were already on our way back, carefully avoiding the crevasses and keeping a safe distance from the wall with its huge cornices.
And then we saw him. We really did. The Zipflbob God himself.
Inspired by our spiritual encounter, we felt ready for another first descent.
On our way back to basecamp, we gathered for an expedition team photograph. Everyone was still stunned. Zipflbob god was with us all day.
We followed our tracks from earlier that day to get back to the hut, already anticipating the fireplace and a warm welcome with fresh sherpa tea from our expedition cook.
Some didn’t believe that we really knocked off the bastard. They also didn’t believe that we saw Zipflbob god. But we did.