A drive through the Nufenenpass (Passo della Novena) and Grimsel Pass in Switzerland.
I like having our summer holidays, whenever possible, near the mountains. And each trip, we need to try a new mountain pass. That is part of the adventure!
A couple of years ago, the idea was to stop by at Interlaken, on our way back from Lago di Como. Looking online, the best way to go was via the Nufenenpass (Passo della Novena) and the Grimsel Pass. The Grimsel Pass is very well known by everyone I’ve asked about, but the Nufenenpass, not so much. Some friends of us that have a house in Moltrasio, and whom their father lives in Lago di Como and knows ‘all the mountain passes’, have not heard of the Nufenenpass, but we’ve checked it out online and he suggested me that it should be fine as it was paved.
Looking in Google Maps, the pass seemed pretty wide enough for two cars – which was what I wanted to see, but I did not see too much of a guardrail on the side. Another option was to go towards Airolo and then Andermatt and take either the St Gotthard Tunnel, or the St Gothard pass. The St Gothard Tunnel was not an option, as this was a Saturday, where you can be stuck for hours. On our way from Engelberg to Lago di Como, we did the St Gothard Pass, which was very nice. It is very busy too, but at least the traffic goes through.
Going back this way, we should have taken afterwards the Furkapass, which is a very renown way to go – mostly for bikers and cyclists alike!
Chalet Zen is the new address in Zermatt. This luxurious, yet cosy and privately-owned chalet is located 100 meters from the piste and main lift up to the glacier, providing access to all of Zermatt and Cervinia ski areas. The chalet is located in an unrivalled position looking up to the majestic Matterhorn and is also a short stroll from the village.
The Chalet Zen offers sleeping accommodation for 8 + 2 in a bunk suite.
Classically furnished, chalet Zen retains the feel of an authentic Swiss chalet and yet caters for all the modern après ski necessities including massage and steam rooms, an outdoor hot tub, WI-FI, satellite and cable TV channels. The chalet can accommodate 8 + 2 guests in four bedrooms and a bunk-room that can be combined with a 5th bathroom to form a family suite. Three of the four bedrooms have south facing balconies with Matterhorn views and the five luxurious marble bathrooms (4 en-suite) have under-floor heading. There are two spacious living and dining areas with fireplaces along with a small study and well-stocked library of books, DVDs and games to suit all ages. Lift access to all floors.
With a charming, professional manager and concierge, dedicated housekeeping team with chef available on request, Chalet Zen combines supreme comfort and privacy with service of the very highest standard.
SLF’s Swiss Long-Term Statistics of Avalanche Victims. The SLF, (Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research) has been collecting data on all the avalanche accidents that happened in Switzerland since the winter 1936/37. This is an overview of their statistics:
Avalanche victims since 1936
The annual average number of fatalities over the entire period is 25 (Fig. 1).
Spatial distribution of fatal accidents during the last twenty years
More than 90% of the fatal avalanche accidents during the last twenty years occurred in uncontrolled terrain, like for example during off-piste skiing and snowboarding or during backcountry touring on ski or snowshoes. As can be seen in Figure 2, a particularly large number of accidents occurred in the cantons of Valais and Grisons.
But what is the reason of this clustering?
Is the clustering of accidents a consequence of a high touring frequency in these regions, or are there other reasons for a higher avalanche accident risk in these regions?
What does Climate Change will mean to a Mountain Nation such as Switzerland by 2060. From Swissinfo.ch – Climate Change in forty years in Switzerland will mean over 40C in the cities, long droughts and not too much snow in winter, Switzerland will be looking as a Mediterranean country. This will have consequences in this land-lock country.
By 2060 the typical weather forecast on a summer day can describe 45C in the cities and twenty days of sustained heat. MeteoSwiss (the federal department of meteorology and climatology) has devised different climate scenarios for Switzerland, in conjunction with the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and publish edit in a report in mid-November. Peter Binder, the head of MeteoSwiss summarised that “Switzerland will be a hotter and drier place”.
Thanks to a DNA test confirmation, the remains found near the Matterhorn where matched to a Japanese climber.
On 11 September of 2018, a rescuer from Zermatt discovered bones of a human body and mountain gear at the foot of the Matterhorn. These are related to an accident in 2014.
On July 23rd, 2014, a 40-year-old Japanese mountaineer climbed the Matterhorn alone. He never returned and he was considered missing.
Time passed, and on September 11, 2018, a rescuer from Zermatt found the human bones and mountain gear at the foot of the wall on the eastern side of the Matterhorn – this was due to melting snow which allowed the bones and equipment to resurface.
Three accidents happened during the weekend break, claiming several victims in the mountains of Switzerland, killing 9 victims. News from 20 minutes – In the Pigne d’Arolla region in the canton of Valais, 14 ski tour riders went into a storm and had to spend the night outdoors. Four of them did not survive the hardships. On Monday and Tuesday, two more victims died in the hospital, as the Valais canton police announced on Tuesday.
The 14 ski tourers all started on Sunday from the “Cabane des Dix” at 2928 meters above sea level. They were traveling in two different groups: a group of four and a group of ten people, one of whom was a mountain guide. Both groups wanted to reach the “Vignettes” hut at 3157 meters via the classic route “la Serpentine”.
This past Sunday, three Spanish skiers have died, overtaken by an avalanche and two others where found alive in Fiescheralp, communicated the Swiss Police. This winter and spring were one of the most mortal ones due to avalanches.
As per the press release from the Police Office of the Valais canton, of a group of five skiers, three people have died and other two have been found alive. “The first investigations point to the victims being from Spanish origin. The formal identification of the deceased is being taking place”, says the release.
The five people were part of a group that on Saturday started a ski touring trip in direction of the Fiescheralp station, in the Valais canton, near the Aletsch glacier. When they were at 2,450 meters of altitude, around 16.45 hours (14.45 GMT), an avalanche trapped the five skiers.