“We have an understanding, the glacier and I”

By the time Thomas Zurbriggen has finished his work, the glacier piste in Saas-Grund looks just like any other ski run. But below the perfect corduroy lies ice. This is the story of how Thomas creates an immaculate piste on top of a glacier. The snow cracks under the snowcat’s caterpillar tracks. The vehicle comes to a sudden, jerky halt, shaking the cabin and the driver inside. Thomas pushes the accelerator ...

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Guardian of the glacier

Glaciologist Felix Keller is determined to save our glaciers. It might be an ambitious plan, but he believes it is possible. When Felix Keller talks about his plan, his eyes light up, bright and blue like the glacier. Blue and white have always been his favourite colours. The 56-year-old naturalist and glaciologist has a mission: to protect the Morteratsch Glacier in Sedrun from complete melting. Although in his words, “it’s not ...

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The trials and tribulations of an ice master

Saas-Fee boasts one of the most beautiful natural ice rinks in the world. Otto Zengaffinen has managed the rink for decades. But what happens when the weather turns? Even on Christmas day, Otto Zengaffinen can often be spotted at the edge of Saas-Fee’s ice rink watching the tourists and locals skate. A group of teenagers laugh, sliding curling stones over the rink. Another plays ice hockey. The ice is an impressive ...

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When life gives you lemons

Ski cross athlete Fanny Smith on her life, successes, and how she grew to be a fighter. Or: how to deal with life’s obstacles and find the right mindset. A conversation over a cappuccino. Sunlight bathes the Mischabel Chain in gold as we cross the road. For a split second, she looks up, wistfully almost, at the snow-covered Allalin. She wants to be up there, skis on her feet and ...

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Carpe diem with WanderFritz!

Fritz Hegi has been hiking all over Switzerland for the last 15 years. Over the last six he has become known as WanderFritz, the author of four hiking books. On chatting to him, it is clear that hiking is just one small part of a greater philosophy of life. WanderFritz was born in a soup pot in Bern. Six times a year, journalist and Mr. Glückskette, Roland Jeanneret, invites friends and ...

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ICARUS 2.0

He’s unstoppable, unyielding, tempestuous. A professional snowboarder, a musician, and a free spirit. Acknowledging no limits, accepting no norms, no hurdles can slow him down. Pat Burgener has flown to the sun and beyond – and kept his wings intact. Pat Burgener was born in Lausanne in 1994, the middle child of three brothers. Max, Pat, and Marc-Antoine – three sons whose parents expected them to play one sport and one ...

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Climbing past her limits: Vivien Labarile defies gravity

Vivien Labarile, from the Upper Valais, on life as a climber, how to overcome fear, and the role of the psyche when it comes to climbing. Vivien bites her teeth, a fierce expression on her face. She pushes powerfully off one foot, swinging herself upwards – and missing the small hold by mere millimetres. Hanging on the rope, she breathes heavily and pauses for a few minutes to rest her ...

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At the end of the world and at the very centre of it

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Carl Zuckmayer fled to Switzerland, and eventually ended up visiting Saas-Fee. What was to become his lifelong love for the place struck him like a thunderbolt in 1938. “As you reach village level, you round a corner and all of a sudden come face to face with the mountains. It’s a view like no other. You're standing at the end of the world ...

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