Get up, double espresso, dress warmly and off we go up the mountain with the staff cable car at 05.30h. 5 patrollers are on their way to the ski area to ensure safety on the Titlis.
Among them also me, Pirmin Kündig for 7 years as a patroller in the Engelberg Titlis Skiing area active. On the train on the way to the mountain, the avalanche safety procedure is discussed. Last night there was up to one metre of fresh snow. The weather is warm and the snow conditions damp to wet.
Once at the top of the mountain, the explosives are prepared for avalanche blasting. Different methods are used for avalanche blasting. Explosives are dropped by helicopter. Blasting can also be triggered via cable cars or computer-controlled blasting masts, as well as by rocket tube. Equipped with ABS backpacks, today we will approach the various blasting points in teams of two. One person drives into the slope and the other observes. Before the blast, we will look for a suitable escape route and waiting area. If we agree, the safest option is implemented. The explosive is now attached to a wooden stick about 1m above the snow surface, thus ensuring the greatest effectiveness of the blast wave on the snow surface. The safety fuse is fixed to the wooden stick and ignited. Once ignited, there are 90 seconds until the detonation of the explosive.
Now we check whether the endangered slope has been successfully cleared or whether another blasting is needed. In our case it was a successful blast, so we move on to the next place. The snow is very wet and we hardly make any progress, hill walking with skis is the order of the day. The idea of not being able to build up speed in 35° steep terrain probably sounds very absurd.
Since 08.00h we are on the way and shortly before 12.00h finally and very exhausted arrived at the mountain station Trübsee, we all deserved a break. Now the safety for the opening of the ski area is guaranteed. Unfortunately, the temperature forecast for this day is too warm and the spontaneous avalanche danger too great to open the mountain. The Engelberg Titlis ski area unfortunately remains closed for the whole day.
This day is an unforgettable experience for me, as such snow conditions are extremely rare.
Pirmin Kündig on behalf of Intersport Titlis Engelberg
Pictures: Pirmin and Bergbahnen Engelberg-Titlis