Snowboard heaven & hell

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

I’m working out of Verbier, Switzerland, during February and March this year. No sympathy expected. Hopefully, the miracle of broadband will make it possible for me to work a full day and enjoy the slopes too!

Last week was my first here, and a bit of a holiday – I had 12 boisterous guys sharing the chalet and things got a little rowdy. Photos are, alas, NSFW. Not safe for pretty much anything, actually, other than sending us all tumbling from our respective slender grasps on respectability. ‘Nuff said.

Anyhow, the week finished with the most amazing day snowboarding I’ve ever been lucky enough to enjoy. Four of us and a guide went exploring off the back of Mont Fort, which is the highest peak you can get to without hiking, and did some back country touring. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Fields of virgin powder, steep climbs up snow staircases that seem to spell instant terminal velocity for anyone who places a foot wrong, nerve-wracking traverses.

We survived, it was glorious, and of course the more we retold the stories to the rest of the group, the better it all seemed. There’s a sign in one of the pubs here that says, very wisely, “The older I get the better I was”.

Today of course all of that cock-sure confidence went out the window after a huge overnight dump and wind that concentrated the snow into nice deep drifts. I couldn’t tell my arse from my elbow, could barely keep the nose of the board on top of the powder, crashed into walls of snow that were totally not there a second before (they jumped out at me, I swear) and ended up falling into a tree-well and landing on a series of strategically placed rocks.

I’m sure the rocks are not regretting the encounter, but I am this evening!

Anyhow, tomorrow morning am lined up for another lesson and am hoping that a little more caution, along with my trusty old ass-guards (“does this make my bum look fat?”) will make for a better day.
More to come.


  1. Rogan Dawes says: (permalink)
    February 13th, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    Never mind the ass-guards! I trust you are using wrist guards, to save your typing fingers?

  2. Myriam says: (permalink)
    February 13th, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Hope you enjoy your stay as much as possible, but take care of yourself, snow walls can be quite hard to face.
    Greets from Fribourg, 120 km from Verbier, but now snow at all :-(
    BTW, congrats for the great decision on proprietary drivers, I’ll stay with the Fawn :-)

  3. Sam says: (permalink)
    February 13th, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Greetings from Geneva! I hope you enjoy your stay in Switzerland.

  4. Ante Karamatic says: (permalink)
    February 13th, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    You snowboard? Urgh… I’m trying to find free weekends to wreck my snowboard, and you get whole 2 months? This just isn’t fair! :) Well, anyway, may you forever be rewarded with a lifetime of powder days!

    I expect pictures when you come back :)

    Don’t forget, “On powder day, there are no friends!” :)

  5. Shermozle says: (permalink)
    February 13th, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    Lucky bastard!

  6. Love Calculator says: (permalink)
    February 14th, 2007 at 4:20 am

    Something tells me I wouldn’t find similar posts if I were reading blogs of bosses from Redmond :)

    a bit jealous skier

  7. P says: (permalink)
    February 14th, 2007 at 8:22 am

    Powder? Grrreat. Would be glad for any snow at all around here (.de)…
    Send some in Email when youre at it…please?

  8. | speak no evil says: (permalink)
    February 14th, 2007 at 8:49 am

    [...] “The older I get, the better I was” (vagyis “minél öregebb vagyok, annál jobb voltam“), mondja Mark Shuttleworth, és igaza van. Hasonló gondolatmenetet követve fejlesztettük ki Attty meg én a verbális síelés fogalmát: amikor a hegytetőn, a fekete pálya tetején elkezdesz beszélgetni arról, hogy hogy megraktad tegnap. [...]

  9. Simon Allen says: (permalink)
    February 14th, 2007 at 10:28 am

    I don’t know how you manage your time so well Mark to allow for snowboarding as well as all your other endeavours, but I wish I had those types of organisational skills!

    Hope you have fun! We don’t get much snow here in Sydney LMAO!

  10. Alex Handy says: (permalink)
    February 14th, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Hey Mark. Don’t feel bad about yer talent in the powder. As a two-planker, one of the few pleasures I get these days on the mountain is watching knuckledraggers get caught in the powder. Snowboarders may be cooler than skiers, but they sure can’t handle deep, fresh powder! Just the nature of the device.

  11. Matthias Nott says: (permalink)
    February 14th, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Hey Mark,

    you’re in Verbier! I’d say, drop by here in Champéry if only we had more snow. I mean, it is not ( totally bad, yet I hope you’re better off in Verbier :-)

    Have fun in Switzerland and keep up the good work for Linux,


  12. Lesley Clayton says: (permalink)
    February 17th, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Just come back from snowboarding in livigno – Italy

    Its TRUE – With snowboarding pain and pleasure go together like best mates! I used wrist guards and bum protection – not meant to look sexy, I still injured myself but had a fab holiday!

  13. fish says: (permalink)
    February 19th, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Verbier is hella beautiful, in winter…

    But ya gotta see the whole picture…ever been there in summer? Well…oh well… o.O

    Anyway, have fun! Greetings from St. Gallen, Switzerland ;)

  14. Mike Dolan says: (permalink)
    February 19th, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Couldn’t be more jealous… no sympathy here. I’ll be in Whistler in a couple weeks and thought that was quite possibly the best trip I could plan. I’ve been trumped…

  15. Ullyses says: (permalink)
    February 21st, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Hey Mark! I lived in Lausanne for a bit, and I will admit to meeting a few of those almost ninja like snow barriers. After one particularly comical faceplant, my mate and I looked for an hour in the snow for “whatever it was” that hit me, and nothing could be found. My mate came up either I destroyed whatever is it was, or it was a Sasquatch on holiday and ran off into the wilderness. Eitherway, it is still a mystery.

    Good luck with everything and I look forward to more stories. If you get sick of the Swiss, come on down to Cape Town, weather is perfect!

    Suddenly Capetonian

  16. Inez says: (permalink)
    February 23rd, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Verbier in March 2007… Not much of a cricket fan then.

  17. David Trask says: (permalink)
    February 28th, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Very cool! I just came back from a weeks vacation and I must say that after a slow start to the winter, the East Coast of the US is now skiing and riding heaven. I got a chance to hit the slopes here in the Northeast and the powder was f**king awesome! I’m pumped because the weatherman says we’re gonna’ get hammered again this Friday (today is Wednesday…and yes I’m going to the local slopes this evening too….I love living in snow country). This weekend should be fantastic! We get dumped on Friday and then plunge into the powder Saturday and Sunday….whee!

    David Trask

  18. Hamish Newlands says: (permalink)
    March 13th, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Hi Mark, I snowboard a lot, and contrary to what is being said in the comments boards are better than skis in powder and clag, you just need a big one. I ride a Burton supermodel which is a 181, and it just floats over this stuff, I have seen very good Swiss skiers struggle in powder, and I am swishing effortlessly on the top of it. The trick is that, sadly, length really is the answer….

    Back of the Mount Fort is good, have you tried les Creblets yet, or the Vallon d’Arbi? Nice descents, shame that in general the snow is not better this year, but Verbier beats the low lying ones. (I am going to try Zermatt and Chamonix at Easter which should have some nice spring precipitation. Nice piles of lukewarm sugar for the board.)

  19. Romain "Chamo" de Wolff says: (permalink)
    March 25th, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    greetings from Lausanne! these last few days must have been crazy with all the snow that dropped! I hope you’re still there enjoyin’ it!

  20. manatlan says: (permalink)
    March 26th, 2007 at 9:53 am

    I was in Verbier too, the first week of march ! i haven’t see any dragons ;-(