This week I’m back in Zermatt, Switzerland, one of my favourite ski resorts. Teaching term ended on March 29th and then it was straight into the Spring Weekend Meeting of the Institute of Physics in Ireland (more on this in next post). I figured I’d be in need of a good holiday after all that so I booked myself a week’s skiing in Zermatt, the famous little town just below the Matterhorn.
On the Dublin-Geneva flight on Monday morning, I found myself sitting next to ‘Lord of the Rings’ Steve Myers! Steve is the director of accelerators at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN; he gave us a fascinating overview talk of the LHC operation at the weekend IoP meeting, so it was certainly an interesting flight..
Gornergrat station and observatory with the Matterhorn in the background
Here in Zermatt, the snow is fine both on- and off-piste, if a bit icy in the mornings and a bit slushy in the afternoons.The Ski Club of Great Britain are here in force as ever, with two different reps, and I’ve been doing plenty of off-piste powder skiing with them in safe conditions. It really is a unique service they offer, perfect for the skier who arrives out solo. Not to mention a ready-made gang of fellow skiers to hang out with after skiing..
Off-piste at Stockhorn
Re skis, this year I’ve deserted twin-tips for the Rossignol ‘funski’ – however although they’re lovely and light on the moguls, they’re not really heavy enough for the deeper snow off-piste. Tomorrow I’ll change to a heavier, allround ski by Atomic, best for variable conditions on and off piste.
Zermatt itself is as gorgeous as ever, the archetypal Swiss ski resort, with superb restaurants, no cars and unbelievable views. I often come down off the mountain quite early, just to stroll up and down the Hauptsrasse and look at the sights.
Tuesday’s LHC switch-on got very good coverage in the French, German and Swiss newspapers on Wednesday. All the big nationals had a picture of the LHC control room on the front page, backed by well written, informed articles. The Irish Times also had a front page picture and some nice articles (including one quoting me on the question of Irish membership of CERN: apparently I’m an eminent scientist) but there was very little coverage in the British papers. As for the Americans, the International Herald Tribune had quite a jaundiced article, emphasising all the faults and delays, explaining none of the science and questioning the rational of the experiments…hmm.
The conditions in Zermatt are so good I’ve stayed on an extra week. Between powder snow, sun and clear skies, it’s hard to leave. Even my hotel is closing for the season today and they’re moving us dedicated skiers to a different place for the rest of the week! I never did change the Rossignol 8O funskis, they just got better an better. Sadly, one of our party twisted a knee in a mogul field yesterday and got helicoptered off; I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened on a softski. Ah well, them’s the risks..