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Travel Blog - DIARY -
  •  2019-02-13 - 2019-04-10
  •  Switzerland, Japan, South K...
Diary and blog of Ski Sabbatical 2019. Some lines what I've done every day. For pictures see picture blog.
Sa, 13.04.2019 Flying home - end of dreamskivacation

Fri, 12.04.2019 Gudauri Skiing

Thu, 11.04.2019 Stephaninska

We, 10.04.2019 Gudauri
Early start after long chatting with good friend. 9am with transport to ski resort. Checking route options for skitouring to old military road to Russia. 2 large avalanches in 30 minutes. Waive plans due to massive risks and stood all day on secured and safe slopes. 8'000 Hm skiing. Wet snow, 4:30 pm back in Hotel. Nice dinner with Russian family drinking georgian red wine. Enjoying fireplace and Georgian Cognac whilst chatting till late. Started to rain outside.

Tue, 09.04.2019 Gudauri & Skitour 4h
Slept out. Slept in yesterday after phonecall with clothes. Woke up 2am. After breakfast walking to skiresort 20min. Real big ski resort with perfect infrastructure. Almost no people. Skied every lift and tried to get to Kreuzpass for skitouring. Last Gondola does not work (needs repair). Tried over mountain ridge to access defence tower, but had to turn back because of too high avalanche risks. 4:30pm started from valley base to tower, crossing rivers and loaded hills. Got safe up and found geocache quickly. Dangerous climbing and risky skiing down, ignated two severe wetsnowavalanches. Speed-zig-zag-skiing. Dogs wanted to bite me. Got safe back to hotel. Exhausted. Nice dinner. Discussion with joung Russian Family from Moscow till 10pm. Chatting till late, after feeding the blog to avoid further delay. Happy.

Mo, 08.04.2019 Mestia - Gudauri
Early start, up 06.05am. Son brought me with family car to Maschrutka Mestia station. No Maschrutka there. After asking around he organised all for me and told me that it's the best driver. 8am we left with a full Maschrutka Mestia. Long and very curvy drive with dangerous rockfall, 130 km. Cutting Almaty shortclip whilst half of passengers barf, even the baby. Perfect weather. Arrived 4:45pm in Tbilisi. Georgians did care about me very nice. Change of Maschrutka at Tbilisi and long search with heavy baggage for Maschrutka to Gudauri. Long drive to Gudauri, arriving 07:00. Madina tried to call. Immediately dinner and then long phone call (1. 5 hours) with Madina. Dana is ill. Long call home. Barbara is exhausted and happy when I'm back.

Su, 07.04.2019 Skitour Tednuldi - Adishi
Packing all stuff and waiting for Stefan. Met him 10:30. Did another steep freeride from top. Was a bad decision, due cardboard snow. Fell 3times! After this, the local guide explained us again the difficult passage and way to Adishi. First tracks, nobody before us. Using geocaching app for navigating. Found village exactly. Very long freeride down. Beer and Kamavari. Serious 4x4 back to road and back to Mestia. Climbing again the defence tower and sitting one hour on top, happy and thinking about human beings.

Sa, 06.04.2019 Tednuldi - epic freeride
Meeting Stefan 11am, due we didn't have phone connection. Freeriding and shredding the mountain, massive. Laid double tracks like waiving carpets. Exhausted, lunch at Tednuldi Paradise. Perfect dinner and stunning sunset. A great day.

Fr, 05.04.2019 Tednuldi - epic freeride
Searching somebody sharing a taxi to Tednuldi. Very expensive transport. Met Stefan and his wife. Stefan is originally a German but living 30 years in Georgia speaking perfectly georgian. We both went all day epic freeriding. Shredded the mountain. Massive, perfect, pure dreamtime. Very very nice hotel Tednuldi Paradise on the mountain. Huge room with four beds just for me. Meeting Ivars, having a short and interesting evening. An epic freeriding day!

Thu, 04.04.2019 Mestia Skitour 7hours
As predicted bad weather, so decided to stay in Mestia. Massive big georgian traditional breakfast. No headache after georgian luxury Cognac. So leaving full pack mountaineering gear hotel at 10am for big mountain. A female dog joining, showing me the way. Very exhausting ascent, after 2hours first snow. After 3hours skinning and continuing with Skis. Summit reached and geocache found.
Another hour skinning up. Enjoying the powder and skiing as far as possible down. Dog always next to me, unbelievable. Gave one Sandwich and about 20 shortbread. Finished walking another 2.5 hours via Mestia Airport back to Mestia. Visiting and climbing one of the towers (with skishoes). Hitting hard my head at a top stone, quick enough to hold to not fall 6m. Like drunken, needed to sit for 15min. Nice dinner with Chanakhi and nice red wine. Should pack for Usghuli/ Tednuldi. But finishing the day before the fireplace chatting... and drinking georgian Cognac.

We, 03.04.2019
Taxi to station, the driver cared and granted in order of George. Bought some cheap coffee from a old grand-mother, it was not drinkable. Comfortable Marshrutka drive to Mestia. Drivers changed every 2 hours. 2 hours freeway, 5 hours rural road and 2hours very windy road. Towards Abchasia frontier houses were empty and it really looked very poor. Left Tbilisi 07:35am, arrived in Mestia 04:30pm. Stunning towers, but city fast growing, currently building +80%. Dinner for US$5. Getting my 1st geocache (only one in town)! Very nice Hotel, 5 nights for US$35. Enjoyable evening with calling good friends, sitting before the fireplace and nipping georgian Cognac.

Tue, 02.4.2019
Could have slept longer. Very rich, vast and delicious georgian breakfast (like brunch, certainly with white wine). Luckily Joy stays in garden. Short walk to Avlabari metro station. She could not find me due to dark sunglasses. Exploring old Tbilisi. Kristi explained me local life and was very knowledgeable. A strong wind blew something in her left eye. First aid with water did not cure. She was tearing in a cafe next to me, so most thought we got relationship issues. She was amazed about geocaching and found it cool. Very good city tour. Went downtown again to find the fortress geocache. Needed to freestyle-climb the forbidden "trail" to top tower, finally found the cache. Then met Ila from the Philippines and went for dinner with him. 9pm home, the taxidriver did circle the whole city for LAR 5.

April 1st 2019 Almaty to Tbilisi
Mo, 01.04.2019
Very early start at 06:30. Alexander drove me to the airport. 30min detour to geocache statue. Been with Madina here - but did forget. Now done. Sunrise and stunning views towards the mountains. A guy tried to get my baggage lorry and wanted to wrap. My harsh Russian words did solve the issue. Very friendly and helpful air Astana girls. Had just to pay 5kg overweight for 2nd baggage. Breakfast with Cappuccino. Very comfortable and relaxable flight to Tbilisi. The Kazach girl next to me was touching her heart, when I answered, that I am Swiss. Heavy turbulences, sitting like always over the left wing. Everybody clapping hands after touchdown. Transfer-taxidriver found me, he rushed me due to a parking problem. Changed Tenge for very bad rate. Hotel was not as expected, but they showed me two places, I could choose whatever I want. Very big apartment, very nice area next to presidents palace. Waiting one hour on road for Kristi, my tourguide. A great person, she showed me the cathedral and castle mountain with amazing views over Tbilisi at night. Dinner with Kakakuri (Daniel, you need to eat this...!!). Nice. Late back to hotel by taxi. 

March 31 2019 Skiing Shymbulak
Blue sky, snow and sunshine. All-day skiing and enjoying the snow. Stopping with burning legs and 10'000 Hm! Packing all stuff. Leaving tomorrow for Georgia. Flight time changed again, taxi 7am. Delicious dinner again with T-bone Steak. Alone again...

March 30 2019 Almaty (Alma-Ata)
In Shymbulak heavy snowfall and fog, as predicted a ski-down-day. With luck I found last minute brilliant and lovely local Madina, who organized and showed all for me. We met at Paris by noon. Heavy rainfall. She showed me Almaty and we could not stop talking and laughing. She even found the geocache as first (she didn't know geocaching). Later we went to the english expat club and had an amazing great evening till late. A phantastic, short and most impressive day, learning a lot about Kazachstan and local history and actual life. One of my best days so far.

March 29 2019 Ski Shymbulak Pow!
10 am first gondola to summit. 5cm pow and no tracks yet. All shred after one hour.
Blue sky and warm temperatures. After midday foul snow under 2500m. Visiting most slope bars and jurt tent. Menesch at the jurt tent explained me the surrounding mountain peaks while I was crowling the mulat and husky dogs. 10'000 Hm today, record so far in this ski sabbatical. Tired with burning legs.

March 28 2019
On the ski slopes at 10 am. One good gondola, rest for beginners. No powder. On mountain pass some deep powder, but too many very clear warning dead signs. Massive mountain peaks. Jurt tent with Laax stickered snowboards and lonely dog. Skiing 6'000 Hm, ending the day at 2:30pm. Foul snow, too risky. Long walk to mountaineer graves and back in heavy rain. Powder is expected on Saturday. Good dinner with all and chilling.

March 27 2019
Very early start at 4am. Right in time, no problems with baggage this time. Waited sitting on the floor like a real scout. Age does not really matter. 22.9kg for skibag and 17 for 2nd bag. Cappuchino and croissant for short breakfast. 07:05 take-off to Novosibirsk, 3rd largest city in Russia. International transfer and customs clearance. Leaving Russia 12:55pm to Almaty. Long flight, next to me sitting a borat-looking man. He stunk massively. He tried to get my window seat. 3 hour flight over the clouds. Slept in for almost one hour. Privat transfer to Shymbulak was perfect. But - temperature 20! degree!?! Better at the hotels ski resort (-3; 2'200 m). Nice dinner and very long deep sleep.

March 26 2019
Long sleep and extensive breakfast. Exploring Irkutsk city alone on footpain (600'000 inhabitants). Visiting orthodox churches. Not to compare with our cities. Trying to get a geocache (three in whole town). Relocation to airport hotel and checking where to check-in tomorrow 4:30am to Novosibirsk and further to Almaty, Kazachstan.

March 25 2019
Transsiberian Express from Baykalsk to Irkustsk. Happy to leave Baykalsk. Lunch in 2nd class. Taxi driver (official taxi) cheating charching eight times the fare. Insisted in english and true Swiss-german. He was a mafia guys and looked not to joke, so I paid 80%. Exploring the close surrounding around hotel. Very luxurious and nice hotel in the heart of Irkutsk.

March 24 2019
Slept out until 1pm. Sunshine Sunday. Missing my Kamtchatka russian friends. Fearing to meet Nadim again, so skiing alone and dashing early back to hotel. Nice skiing, but spring snow now. Good to leave for higher mountains in Kazachstan. My landlady won the songcontest first price and was very happy, she opened a bottle of red wine to drink with me. Washing and writing diary. Bought a earlier ticket to Irkutsk to arrive at daylight 4pm instead of 11.20pm. Good hotel in city center.

March 23 2019 
Very nice skiday without powder on slopes, 8‘000 Hm. Close-accident with Nadim at approx. 80 kmh. You shoud know how hospital look like here, shocked. Sauna with Nadim and Led. Felt unsafe, had difficulties to check escape options and scenarios after seen laoded pistol on hotel room table (is normal, my friend, they said – this is Russia). Drinking spirits and talking until midnight. Hanging around up to 3.30am, disco. Good and (bad) experience, they meant I am best friend ever (might have been worse). My hostmother was very happy to see me come home (myself as well).

March 22 2019 Sovolinaya pow 10 cm!
Long sleep and taxi for 7 km to Sobolinaya ski resort. USD 20 for a day ticket. Overnight fresh snow, what a unforseen present! Mostly beginners to intermdiate, so fresh pow forever. Freeriding 6'000 Hm in 10 cm powdersnow. Treeskiing extreme. Phantastic, that's what we like all day! New guests shall arrive from Irkutsk, they want to party the weekend. Lets see. They made disco (very lound) until 3 am. They invited me to dance and drink. Went to bed midnight.

March 21 2019 Lake Baykal & Baykalsk
Deep sleep and start the day 07:15. Crazy rude Taxidriver with split windscreen and no fuel (red lampen on). Driving criminal-agressive with horn and very emotional against slow woman-drivers. He had to fuel up (I knew it...). Some locals helped to find the right train. Passport control for boarding. Compartment with Max (6 years old) and his mother. Painting with him, drinking tea and eating buscuits and train to use some russian words (taak..). Endless forest and less pow than hoped. Taxi to guesthouse (had to explain to the old driver where). Friendly people with very limited English. Exploring lake Baykal on the ice (currently 1m thick!) and checking close-by Sobolyniana ski resort. Safety dogs: do as you collect some stones (a snowball will do) and fake to through, the dogs disappeared as quickly as they came. Good dinner in Guesthouse.

March 20 2019 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky - Chabarovsk - Irkutsk
6:45 kicked Micha out of sleep.Emergency hurry to get his 10am packing and waiting for the rest of crew to stand up.
Japanese Ramen in Supermarket. Nina found an ATM which did work. Rubel-cash for one Week! Quick hugging and farewell, walking through snow to hotel. Dense snowfall. Recovering. Sad and hard to leave my friends. At the airport flying with aurora airlines via Chabarovsk to Irkutsk. Too small taxi to airport. Checkin to Chabarovsk. 3 hour flight and long stay in Chabarovsk. Slept next flight to Irkutsk. My russian neighbour translated for food. Late landing, win another two hour win. Taxi to hotel.-5 and snowing. Nice hotel Bravo.

March 20 2019


March 19 2019 sledge dogs & beach
Relocation to the city. Going out with the crew of freeriders (bratan!). Short before 4am to bed.

March 18 2019 Russia, Skitour "Siberian concrete"
Heliski failed due to no places available, Skidoo-towing failed due to lack of an available snow Valley guide. Therefore Skitouring with our group. Krasnye ascent over icefield. Dogs following us and were much faster than I. Siberian concrete wave surfing down, most challenging.
Extended hot pool session, beer and salmon. Perfect dinner and emptying bottles. Midnight Ping-pong with Alexander.

March 17 2019 Russia, Freeriding Vilyuchinsky volcano
Very early start at 6 am. Snowmobile-towing to vulcano cuoloir as high as possible. Long ascent skinning up. Summit in reach, but too risky without crampons. Epic Freeriding with Nina down into the flat - thank you, freerider Nina! Snowmobile surfing on rope. Hot natural pools relaxing for hours. Dinner with large langustes.

March 16 2019 Russia, Kamchatka Snow Valley - Skitouring Mt. Goryachaya
10:20 am climbing Mt. Goryachaya (660 Hm). Summit was icy and tricky with my skins. Wonderful outlook over snow Valley and vulcanos. Steep epic freeriding and treeskiing to mountain base level. Eduard snowmobile pick-up with rope-towing. Nice lunch and relaxing the rest of the day.
Hot pools and some drinks.

March 15 2019 Russia, Kamchatka Snow Valley, Transport Snowmobile & Heli
Freeriding Pow Mt Goryachaya
Early start 4am. Relocation by skidoo-towing on skis in absolute dark and helicopter-flight with russian MI-8 to Snow Valley Resort. Perfect weather. Skidoo-towing freeriding with Micha. 6 runs, my armes hurting from towing behind snowmobile. Late night swimming in hot natural pools. Perfect pow-day.

March 15 2019 Russia,  Kamchatka Camp
My binding did separate from the ski after 300 m of freeriding  in the steep cuoloir. Difficult and long skiing down with the assistance of Vitaly on right single ski from the vulcano. Gave my fatski to guide Edward as a present. He was most happy.

March 13 2019 Russia,  Kamchatka Camp
Avalanche & Crampons refresher - Skitour
Guides invitation

March 12 2019 Vulcano skitour - climb - Banja
Massive wind, it blew me almost from the ridge, even wearing crampons. Long ascent with skis on packpack. Freeriding after 5 hours, very visiting snow conditions.

March 11 2019 Flight to Kamchatka ?? - catchup Vitaly - expedition shopping - Jeep and snowmobile-towing transportation to Camp.

March 10 2019 Soeul geocaching - footpain - Olympic park - flight to Wladiwostok

March 9 2019 Pyoengchang to Soeul - dentist fixed tooth and sightseeing with Rob
Took the highspeed train to Soeul 1st class (2 hours traveltime). 9:15 Rob picked me up at Soeul Station. Bought my baggage to hotel, from there with a taxi to his dentist. 15 min., CHF 50 later the provisional filling was done. Waiting in closeby cafe until dentist closure at noon.
Walk over antenna hill to hotel. 3pm catchup with Rob. Visiting most sightseeing spots, three demonstrations and went eating in Restaurant in market and geocaching until 11pm. Stunning experience.

March 8 2019 Korea, Pyoengchang
Best weather, foul snow. Feels like end of season. Met Rob from Soeul, he will assist me in sorting my tooth Problem. We spent the afternoon on slopes, great time. Changed the programme. Will take the highspeedtrain at 6:48 to be in Soeul before 9am. Packing all in under an hour.
ABC Australia on TV.

March 7 2019 Korea, Pyoengchang
Left hotel 0630 and crossed by bus whole Korea. No snow until 30min before arrive. Perfect luxury hotel. Took taxi to ski area, made 10 runs and 2000 Hm in foul snow. Free powdersnow would not help due to bothside massive anti-freeride fencing. Certain it is to protect skiers, specially beginners. Home with large shuttlebus. Perfect weather, about 8 degree. Almost nobody speaks english, communicating over english-korean handy-app...

March 06 2019 Korea, Soeul Incheon
Barbara flew back to Switzerland with Swiss. I flew same time to Southkorea. 3 hour flight with 200 japanese girl-teenies. Immigration Korea. Very stunning airport with Maglev-line. Dental in airport permanently closed :-(. Spicy thai dinner, burning hot!!! Good luck they had local beer.

March 05 2019 Tokyo city
With fast train to Tokyo Station (1hour). Geocaching. Sightseeing most attractions. Temples, tower, fish market and skiline. Long day. Sushi dinner. Jin air check. Repacking minus 5kg Daniel.

March 04 2019 Narita
Sleeping-out. Shopping mall and nice dinner (noodles and great Steakhouse). Washing clothes and relaxing.

March 03 2019 Sapporo
Geocaching in the centre. Shopping on Sunday. Car given back without problems. No penalties so far due to speed limit challenges. Flight back to Tokyo (2hours). Shuttlebus to comfortable Hotel Narita view.

March 02 2019 Furano
Massive snowfall in the morning, about 10cm in town, 25cm in ski resort. Phantastic freeriding through forest in steep terrain. Despite warning signs I played the whole morning with the white fluffy stuff. 4pm we were exhausted with burning legs. Relaxing and Apéro afterwards.

March 01 2019 Furano
Traditional breakfast. I think the cook was the only hotel staff person able to speaking more than three words in english. One-hour-drive to Furano. Non-modern ski resort, but good termin. Skiing with the Basel guys and later with the australians. Spending down the mountain. 6500 Hm. Too tired for nightskiing.  Top hotel in Furano with every comfort.

February 28 2019 Tomamu
128km in 2h40! Got on skis at noon, after some good lunch. 5000 Hm in 4 hours and off-pist skiing through dense forest. 500 hotelrooms per Tower. Sunshine and burning legs. Evening in crystal ice village. The hotel was oldstyle and creepy.

February 27 2019 Ashaidake  40cm powder!
We aimed to  climb the highest mountain in Hokkaido (Ahaidake), but visability was too poor. Therefore exploring the backcountry with 40cm of finest pow. Three rides, last one ending up in a off the hidden track valley. Hiking with skins one hour through miracle landscape back to the car park. - 7 degree.
Lots of sushi and asahi. Half of my tooth fell off, at least the filing is out. No pain, just disappointing. Need to fix in Tokyo before heading to Siberia.

February 26 2019 Asahikawa
Down Day. Mt. Asahidake had a whiteout, considering the webcam. So no skitouring to the highest peak on Hokkaido. Therefore went to the zoo and visiting the city. Massive cold and windy. We took a bigger appartment and enjoyed the evening eating sushi and dringing asahi beer.

February 25 2019 Kioro - Asahikawa - Ski Kimari
Started 11.30 am. Beautiful weather with few pow added. Wonderful snow on the slopes, phantastic views over Hokkaido. Enjoyed the mountain for ourselves (had about 10 persons skiing). Skied about 4'000 heightmeters. Went eating sushi again (what else if the alternative is noodles?). 

February 24 2019 Kioro Day 2
Instead of driving to Sapporo Ski Teine area Barbara convinced me to spend another day in Kioro Pow. Perfect weather with blue sky. When crossing the ski boundary we were forced to register due to "danger to get lost". Well, we did and spent the rest of the day outside the ski area in best pow. What for a day.
After a girls rock concert we left 3pm with tired legs to Ashaikawa, a 250'000 Personcity. After 3 hours driving we enjoyed beer and sushi in raw masses.

February 23 2019 Kioro Day 1 & Nightskiing
Finally our praying for snow helped - it started to snow out of the blue. 20cm of pure powder and even more. All day back-country freeriding through forests. Very cold weather, but perfect pow. Freeriding about 7 times until our legs almost fell off. After a dinner break we started into the evening with night skiing. Due to very cold temperatures and heavy wind we gave up after one hour.

February 22 2019 Niseko Day 2
Another beautiful day with lots of sunshine. Spent whole morning outside ski boundary through Gates, tree skiing in its perfection. Lunchtime with japanese food. Afternoon wet snow skiing from Hirafu to Annapurni. Driving after 5pm from Niseko to Otaru into the city and a good hotel.

February 21 2019 Niseko Day 1
Best weather and 10cm fresh powder. Tree skiing out of gate 11. The man from the avalanche control house said, avalanache danger is very low. Nice steep skiing with lots of fun. Lunch at the Hilton lodge with high pricing. 

February 20 2019 Rusutsu Mt. Isola & East Mtn.
A wonderful day. We slept better than last night. Cold morning. Driving in Japan is tricky. Just 60 on rural roads and less is normal. Everybody overtook us... so we followed one quick (but slow) local. Phantastic ski area with great tree skiing, we curved through forest until we were flat. Almost empty slopes and nobody freeriding between trees. We stopped 3.30pm, due our condition did not allow more - totally exhausted.

February 19 2019 Rusutsu West Mtn. & Nightskiing
Woke up 6am. Time zone problems. We stood up 8am with 6 degree room temperature. With ski clothing we were faster than the electric heater. Our town looks like out of an old movie. Very local. We had warm sushi and coffee for breakfast. 30min drive to Rutusu ski resort. Skied all day. Daniels new skis and bindings work well, quickly adapted to a new generation. Nice japanese Dinner. Then nightskiing up to 8pm. Lots of snow, Phantastic! Are these really trees?

February 18 2019
Very silent and convenient flight to Tokyo, all best with Swiss Int. Airlines. We were too early for check-in for Vanilla Sky Airlines, so I checked overweight baggage with JinAir to Korea. Nobody did know, it was not possible to find somebody responsible. Two-hour flight to Sapporo. Nice Toyota rental car with AWD. long 1.5 hour drive to our hotel. The very old lady did not speak one word other than Japanese. We managed to get the room with heating. 

February 17 2019
Sitting at Zurich airport just short before booking. Temperatures here like in summer. Heavy baggage loaded and without problems accepted.

February 14, 2019
Last day in the office. Starting 7am with CEO's announcments before press release. Meetings and Workshop BIM. Rushing tasks down after 5pm. Will get late today. New TNT Ski is ready from the workshop and freeride pro binding is mounted. Send blog to those asked for it.
Teeth still causing droubles.
2 days to go.

February 13, 2019Another hard day.
Working high speed to get rid of the remaining work. Organize work to be done by others during my absence in office. Why do I work up to Friday?
Cancelled a meeting to visit the dentist for last urgent teeth repair. Who wants to end up in the middle of nowhere with toothpain? -3 days to go!

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