“When life sends a blizzard, make a snowman.”
We were not expecting the amount of snow that we were dealt. Debora and I planned this trip into the Bernese Oberland for a while – as sort of a pre-wedding honeymoon. Three days up in Wengen from Lauterbrunnen with trips up to Kleine Scheidegg for some sledging, and photographing! What we didn’t know was that we would be smacked in the face by feet of snow, howling winds, and freezing rain for three days…
We drove north from Ticino through the Gotthard tunnel to dreary skies and rain by the time we hit Interlaken. It wasn’t looking good for photos. We arrived in Lauterbrunnen and the famous falls were nothing more than a trickle. We couldn’t see any of the surrounding mountains. Not so good. Debora parked the car, we gathered our gear and luggage and headed to the train station that would take us to our hotel, halfway up the mountainside, to Wengen.
Protip: if you get a chance to stay in a SunStar Alpine Hotel in Switzerland – DO IT. Debora found an amazing 3-day deal, and everything was beyond top notch. The hotel concierge greeted us at the desk with a glass of traditional Swiss Glühwein, a served-hot alpine wine, for both of us before upgrading our room for free. The bottom floor of the hotel featured an indoor-pool, steam bath, sauna, massage parlor, and tanning salon. The in-house restaurant’s food was dynamite, and we met the hotel owner who personally served us our dinner one night. Truly a class-act, SunStar Wengen!
Our first real day-trip up to Kleine Scheidegg the next morning was, once again, cloudy, dreary skies with looming snowfall. By the time we got up to Kleine Scheidegg, it was total white-out conditions. The north face of the Eiger would show itself for moments and then be dissolved into whiteness and haze. I couldn’t even manage a shot due to the wind and ice. The day looked to be a total loss.
On our way back down to Wengen, we took a footpath where I was able to grab a nice shot of a snow-covered stream. The water was cold, but my boots kept me dry. As I was framing up my shot, Debora wanted to make a snowman, which of course, she did.
The next day was a bit better. I woke up at about 5am, and WOW! I could see why this room was an “upgraded” room! The view was stunning! You could see the whole Lauterbrunnen valley from this room, and what was better yet – it wasn’t snowing. We rushed out to grab the very first train up to Kleine Scheidegg, because I was yearning for an Eiger sunrise shot, and this morning looked promising.
The morning was starting to show pinkish hues and radiant oranges on the tips of nearby peaks. It was as if this train would never come. Waiting and waiting, as the clouds started to roll in more and more… It takes about 35 minutes to go from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg, and I’m watching these colors get duller and duller…
In the pre-morning light, I found some compositions that I wasn’t expecting. When there’s bad weather, typically, you can forget about sunrises, or sunsets. When color isn’t there, you have to go for mood, texture, and contrast.
While still waiting for the sun to rise, Debora and I took a lift up to the Lauberhorn, which is very famous for its Ski World Cup Downhill races of which Debora had a keen interest in seeing.
We waited around at Restaurant Eigernordwand for the sun to rise, while the restaurant staff prepared tables and chairs for the morning skiiers. I was lucky enough to snap this shot of sunrise before getting the boot from the manager. I’d call it a success!