When your hiking trip turnes in to a hiking adventure…..and you learn a thing or two!

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr

file-7
Jim and Ellinor looking at “Les Dents du Midi”, Champéry (Swiss Alp

We could skip the text in this article and just leave the quote and our pictures as it more or less sums up our hiking experience in Champéry (Swiss Alps) over New Years…But after all, details are more fun:-).

In short:

We kickstarted the new year with the wildest hike we ever tried…. A steep, icy and extremely narrow track….. and learned that when it says “Mountain trail” (a yellow signpost with white-red-white tip) the Swiss mean what they write:

“Trails are mostly steep, narrow and in exposed places. Particularly difficult sections are secured with ropes or chains. In certain circumstances streams can only be crossed via fords”. 

We did not read this description before we went on our hike….. and admit, that we need to do our homework a little better next time!!

file3
Jim on the way to the top with Ellinor

The route sets off in the center of  Champéry and leads you to the top (1936 m), where The Croix de Culet cable car has its end point.

Champéry is ideally situated just 2 h from where we live (and 90 min by car from Geneva), and is both a postcard-perfect alpine village and a modern ski, hiking and biking resort. We initially planned to go skiing, but The Weather Gods wanted it differently and provided optimal hiking conditions. Clear blue sky and no wind…

Before we go any further it might be a good idea to manifest our hiking level. We are outdoor lovers and have ever since moved to Switzerland 1 year ago, hiked quit a lot, but we are far from specialists. All of us are in good shape, but we didn’t really have any technical hiking skills before we started hiking here in Switzerland.

We did first part of the trail on December 31th, found it very motivating and decided to complete the full trail on January 1 st. The trail was not that long (10,5 km) and very passable the first kilometers…but then the scenery changed to a very step, narrow and icy track. We were very glad that we brought rope to ensure the safety of our kids (this was actually the first time we ever had to use them).

louis-anna-reb

Our boys (9,13) did a FANTASTIC job – they just walked, embraced the adventure, followed our instructions and didn’t complain one single time. Ellinor (3) was sitting in a backpack ensuring the entertainment all the way (singing…. and was obviously completely unaffected by the trail)…..

We made it top the top……and what a feeling and view…..

But we as parents learned a lesson or two: DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!  Make sure you are fully aware about what kind of trail you are entering and where/which difficulties there might occur on the way.

That being said we operated based on some basic principles, that always goes when we are hiking with children:

Tips for hiking with kids

  • Always check the weather forecast before you start your hike
  • Always have a fun and really cool objective at the end of the hike
  • Get your kids involved with the preparation process and wear the right clothes. Have them choose the correct clothing. Teach them about layers and the importance of taking clothes on and off when needed. It’s extremely important for the succes of a hike that your children (and you!!) are properly dressed. A too hot or a too cold child is hard to motivate to walk. Go for functional clothing that dry easily! Our kids have a variety of recommendable clothes from the Danish clothing brand Molo. Their clothes is designed with a specific purpose to keep your child DRY, WARM and VISIBLE from a distance.
  • Everybody brings a backpack with extra clothes, water, first-aid kit.
  • Be diligent about having everything ready to go long before it is time to walk out the door. The day of the trip needs to be just that—the day you go hiking. Little kids’ schedules don’t have room for running around and trying to pack up right before you leave.
  • Embrace the pace set by kids. Make frequent stops. You have to be OK with 1) Not making it to the your specified destination, 2) Not getting a workout in (if that’s your motivation), and 3) Changing plans at the drop of a hat.
  • Keeping them entertained is key. So we play games every time we hike. One of their favorites is “The Ice cream” (our own invention… we love ice cream). Very simple game…. Each person on the hike gets to describe their favorite ice cream and one is appointed to be the judge. Most nasty and crazy ice cream dessert wins.

Would we go on at trip like this again?! Absolutely yes!! But we would make a more careful planning of the route to derive the maximum pleasure and enjoyment from it.

Ellinors agrees…but who wouldn’t if you could hike with her attitude and style? The little mountain-fashionista got her self a few very energizing naps on the way….

Links:

Champéry Tourism: http://www.champery.ch/

Hiking in Switzerland: http://www.wanderland.ch/en/hiking-in-switzerland.html

Functional clothing for children: https://www.molo.com/

.

1 year in Switzerland…What an adventure!

switzerland-landscape-and-flag

One year ago on exactly this day, we got the key to our new home and so began our Swiss adventure.

Leaving Denmark behind was hard, but it has been a journey with so many fantastic experiences and learnings all summing up to a year we will never forget!! We are not flying around on pink clouds every day, but close to, and that underlines that we made a right choice. You can read about why we moved here.

New job-New School-New Languages-New Home-New Triathlon Club-New Friends-New (fantastic!!) Running Trails-Founding 5 Ways West-70 Days of Visits from back home-Exploring Switzerland-Travels to Italy, France, Spain, Denmark-Many days of Hiking, Skiing and Climbing…Living in the middle of Europe is an adventure.

Pictures say more than words, so here is a gallery of what our first year has been all about….

December: Turning an empty loft in to a home….Christmas, New Years and our first visitors from Denmark.

 

In January, real life began – and so did our Skiing season. For a Dane it’s simply fantastic to have so easy access to the mountains….

Winter turned in to Spring….. and almost every weekend was used to explore Switzerland or a neighboring country….You can read a little more about that here

The summer came later than we had expected …. but we kick-started it with a weekend at Ibiza celebrating our dear friends magical wedding, had several visits from friends and family, traveled to our favorit place in Denmark (Skagen) and France (Duniere-sur-Eyrieux), enjoyed the summer-liveliness of our own town (Solothurn – where one of us got a new haircut:-)) and rounded everything off by participating in our first up-hill mountain race. You can read about that here:

After a September with Indian Summer, Fall came….. and together with this, the most beautiful change of scenery on our hiking trips. You can see it here. Before we knew it, a year had passed and winter came back:

New adventures are waiting around the corner. First Christmas and New Year here in Switzerland, then a long weekend in Sainte-Foy-Tarenstaise (France) in January and La Santa (Lanzarote, Spain) in February.

Anna og Elli_We travel because

Thank you so much for following our adventure.

Lots of love

#5wayswest

 

How to make skiing with kids a success….

:file-6

We love everything that rimes on activity and includes spending time outdoor. Every season has its beauty, allows different adventures and brings joy to all in our family.  But…. this “joy” is a result of hands-on experiences on how to make it work out for all!! The age diversity of our kids is quit big (3-13 year) and so is of course their physical ability. We see this as a fact, not an obstacle, but know that it requires planning – in all of our travels…..

Getting out on the hill and skiing or riding is fun, right? So it is understandable that skiing and snowboarding evolve into a lifelong passion for so many of us. For those of us that have kids, it’s equally understandable to want to pass that same passion on to them. Still operating under the premise that our chosen winter sports are fun; on any given day at any given resort, why can you always find an upset child accompanied by a harassed looking adult? Well that’s a head-scratch-er, but we are going to go out on a limb and suggest it might be a combination of over-zealousness and lack of planning.

Winter is here and if you want your kids to love the snow as much as you do, we believe that these tips can serve as inspiration and help…..

1. Be realistic in your expectations: “Don’t expect to do too much” – this is not like skiing pre-children. Change your perspective on what you wish the outcome of the holiday should be. The reward is something different…..but much bigger:-)
img_3763
Our daughter Ellinor, 2-years-old, on her first ski trip in January 2016

2. L-O-C-A-T-I-O-N: Location is everything!! Living in Switzerland allows us to have both one-day and multiple-day trips, but no matter how long you stay, you need a “base” close to the slopes. If it’s a one-day trip, pick an area where they have a good “indoor” space (restaurant etc.) and use that as your “base” . If it’s more days, pay that little extra to stay close to the lift. A car/bus drive between your accommodation and the snow several times pr. day does not do anything good to anyone. Trust us….. we have been there:-).

sainte-foy-snowboarding
Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise, in the French Alps, one of our favorite destinations. The area offers perfect skiing: No queues and uncrowded slopes and is a friendly gem with both Alpine charm and traditional Savoyard architecture. It’s perfect for families with its many direct ski-in-ski-out opportunities and super nice accommodation.

3. Buy (rent) a sled and prepare to be a sherpa: If you, like us, bring a smaller child, getting everything from the car to the base area can be a pain if you don’t have a sled and some bungee cords. Simply pile all of the gear into the sled, strap it down and tow it behind you. This also allows you carry one of the kids, preventing them from getting tired before they ever get on their skis or snowboard. Besides; the sled can provide a fun break for all ages:-). Be as prepared for your little one as the most experienced Sherpa in Nepal. You should have plenty of snacks, water, sunscreen and extra layers with you just in case. Consider it a bonus workout!

4. Focus on the fun, not the technique: If your kids are not having fun right away, it may be a fight to get them back up to the hill to learn about technique, so when you see them starting to lose interest, forget about the skis for a minute and play. Snowball fights, snow angels, and building snowmen are all free, fun and easy things to do. Key is to take a lot of breaks!!

Ellinor snehule

5. Dress them appropriately: Although it might be cold outside, overdressing your kids is as detrimental to your day as under-dressing them. Also, if you are hauling your kid up the hill all day, you will probably want to dress on the lighter side so you don’t get overheated. Have your kids wear helmets and goggles!!! It’s always a good idea to start positive habits on the first day. Helmets and goggles help keep them dry as well as protected!

Louis med skihjelm

6. Mentally Prepare:  Get ready to be patient and flexible. We know this seems like a no-brainer…but still, it’s worth repeating; be patient and flexible.

7. Organisation is key: Get everything out the night before – snacks in pockets, bags packed – and allow far more time than you think you’ll need to get togged up and up the mountain.

Remember that skiing and snowboarding is fun and focus on that!!!

Your kids will pick up on your enthusiasm and after a while, they are going to want to head to the hills just as much as you do….. even when the snow has not fallen yet:-)

 

Some women get flowers…other women get race numbers!

…. and then there are those who are fortunate to get both:-).

A couple of weeks back I got a very nice and very challenging present: a race number for the “Weissensteinlauf” here in Switzerland. The race literally takes place more or less in front of our door by the end of August 2016.

It’s a beautiful mountain race that leads you through the mysterious scenery in the St. Verena ravine over the vista point at the top of the race, the “Röti”, to the finishing line at the Hotel Weissenstein. Sounds nice, right?

But then you looked at the course route…. and realized that it is not just a “walk in the park”. Maybe if you are Swiss with mountain blood in your veins… I am Danish… from a land flat as a pancake.

But that is no excuse! So challenge taken… and yesterday my very own supporters agreed to go on a hike with me, to check out the route.

We had the most fantastic trip! But let me put it this way: I will need a liiiiittle time to prepare, I am truly humble and quit satisfied with the fact, that August is not to morrow:-)

Feel free to come and join us… Switzerland is fantastic, there are plenty of spaces left in the race and the city of Solothurn is so beautiful:-)

 

 

Welcome to 5 Ways West

5 Ways West is a blog about how we as a family combine our professional and private interest in wearable technology with our daily lives and travels.

We are an active and quality conscious Danish family, based in Switzerland. Like many other families we love to travel, but we also believe that many adventures can take place just in front of your door.

cropped-img_1859.jpg

The cliché that the world opens up to you if you are open to the world, is one of our driving forces and a basic foundation in our family of five. With five different personalities, five sets of eyes, we will share bits of our lives with the aim to inspire you on your travels and in your daily life!

We believe that a big part of our children’s development and education should be based on insights to the World as well as to your self – and that you do not get this merely by reading books.

We like to quantify data and believe that everyone can achieve better self knowledge through numbers and guidance. We also believe that our numbers and findings can be valuable to you as a reader! Do you for instance know when your children are most active: When running between rollercoasters in an amusement park, on ski holidays or sightseeing in a city?! And do you have the highest sleep efficiency in our own bed, in a borrowed (Airbnb) bed or in a five star hotel? Finally, do you know how to change or optimize your own or your children’s lifestyle patterns?!

We eat healthy, we do a lot of sports and  have a certain taste for good design and quality – but we are by no means perfect or fanatics!

The fuel that drives our travels and adventures are instinct and love – and a lesser degree of planning. This despite the fact that we in our daily lives, similar to other modern families, are slaves of synced calendars and fine-tuned spreadsheets.
This has lead us to a lot of quirky, authentic and intense experiences rather than the traditional sights and tourist traps.
We have seen many parts of the World and dream of seeing even more!!!!

The desire to make this blog has been around for many years and now the timing is right. In late 2015, we relocated to Switzerland without a return ticket hence turned our lives upside down.

You can follow us under the hashtags:

#5wayswest #5wayswesthome #5wayswestwearables

Thank you so much for reading along!

The pictures are from our trip to Cape Verde (info will follow)