Katharine Symonds Furse
Part 2 out of 3
performer and fell a great deal, so that for the whole six or seven
miles' run, we were kept waiting for her. Of course, we were under no
real obligation to look after her, but had we left her and anything
had happened to her, we could never again have held up our heads as
On another occasion a runner made a formal complaint to me about a
lady who joined his party. In this case it was an experienced runner,
who had presumably learnt the Law, and who might have read the notice
on the board. First of all she said, "May I go with you?" and the
somewhat cold answer was that the party was complete. Then she
followed asking questions about the route, etc. at every opportunity.
Of course, she had finally to be adopted and taken along much to the
boredom of the party, which was a private one.
Where the Ski-ing is organized, tests are run and tours arranged
for the different standards. This does not apply so much to 2nd or
1st-class runners who, of course, prefer to make up their own parties,
but, at any rate, these are protected from having the less experienced
runner with them, except by invitation. By these means the organized
tours only take runners up to the standard advertised, and no one
need feel compunction at leaving members of their party behind in the
village, because they know that the elementary runner will also get a
chance of a run.
Yet even under these arrangements, I have found a beginner sitting
huddled in a corner of the railway carriage when we have started
before dawn for a big tour. "Where are you off to?" I said, thinking
he was out with a Guide. "With your party," was the reply. What could
I do? It is not easy to turn a person out of a train at 5.45 a.m. on
a cold morning. I said weakly, "Did you not see the notice which said
this was a run for 3rd-class runners only?" He said, "Yes, but I
thought I could keep up." So there he was, and we took him through and
though he was very slow uphill and kept us all back in this case, he
ran down without delaying us. People often put their own capacity
higher than do the people they want to run with and it is very
difficult to be tactful.
Again most people would not think it necessary to warn runners against
deserting their party. Yet they often do and it is not usually the
beginner who is the culprit here. Perhaps he cannot run quick enough
to get away! I shall always remember a run in charge of a tour when I
was with a lot of novices. Another experienced runner accompanied me
officially to help. I chose what I thought the easiest way to start,
and he wanted to try another route at the top and went off saying he
would join us below a wood. When we reached the part where I thought
we should rejoin, I waited and shouted, but he did not appear. So we
went on to another post where we had lunch, and then I began to get
anxious as this runner never turned up. Anything might have happened
to him. He might have gone over a rock or into a tree or even only
be tied up in one of those tangled falls when it is practically
impossible to extricate oneself. It was no good our trying to look for
him then, so after about two hours' delay, I took my party down to the
valley and the first person who met us in the village was our lost
companion. He chaffed us for being so late as he had run down very
quickly and had had his tea ages ago.
No party going beyond the Nursery slopes should consist of fewer than
three. One to go for help in case of need, the other to stay with the
third runner, who may need help. Needless to say, people who know the
mountains well, go off alone with impunity. When I asked one of these
lonely runners what would happen if he hurt himself and was benighted,
he told me he always carried sufficient morphia to put him out of his
agony in case of need. This was, no doubt, all right from his point of
view, but what of the people who might go out to look for him among
the infinite possible runs with Ski tracks in every direction.
No sporting runner would ever refuse help to a lame duck, though
pretty bad cases of selfishness have been recorded.
There is one point, which does not always strike people, and that is
the danger of cutting a track over a difficult place. Beginners will
usually follow a track instead of working by their map. For instance
on the Muottas Muraigl run at Pontresina, if once a rash runner cuts a
track straight across from the restaurant to the valley, crowds will
probably follow it, though they may be warned against it. This is
a very dangerous slope under certain conditions as was shown this
Winter, when a runner going along its top was carried down to the
bottom of the valley by the avalanche he started.
I have one track left on my conscience; when a few of us went down
what might have been a dangerous place under different conditions to
those we found. Luckily it was not a way most people would have wished
to follow as it apparently led nowhere and hardly looked attractive.
The slower mover always has the right of way when Ski-ing, so that no
runner ought to shout to those ahead of him to get out of his way.
Needless to say this does not apply to a runner out of control, who
may be dashing unwillingly into someone in front of him when, for both
their sakes, a friendly warning is advisable!
It is the business of every Ski-er to avoid obstacles and the slower
mover may be looked on as such in just the same way as a rock or a
tree. I was amused one day at Pontresina when a crowd of us were going
up the village street and met a lady on Skis being held back as she
went downhill by two friends on either side of her. It was the first
time I had ever thought of someone going down hill being the slower
mover in relation to those climbing.
Nursery slopes are for the practice of turns and the individual who
uses them for straight running while a lot of people are practising is
abhorred. The same applies to jumps on the Nursery slopes. These
are so easily made where other people are not practising that it is
selfish to come plunging down into a crowd of devotees to turns. When
the Nursery slopes are empty, it is great fun to practise straight
running down them and no one will object.
One jolly thing about Ski runners is that they seldom ridicule one
another or laugh at falls in any but a friendly way. There is great
rivalry and daring to greater effort, but ill-natured ridicule is
seldom heard. Perhaps this is due to the fact that most people who
live in glass houses do not throw stones. Everybody who tries to
improve his Ski-ing is bound to fall and it is better not to set the
fashion of laughing at others in difficulties.
There will always be some people who like to look on at tests as "Free
entertainment without tax," but if they could hear the comments on
their behaviour and probably on their own lack of prowess they would
soon give up the habit.
Anyone who is really keen to get on and who will go on practising and
accept advice may be sure of sympathy and help. Ski-ing with all its
dangers and need for combined effort seems to bring out the best of
people and to produce the very best spirit of goodwill and tolerance.
Going uphill in soft snow, every strong member should take a turn at
cutting the track. It is often heavy work, and an energetic leader may
not like to ask for help. The best plan is to work by time, the leader
falling out at the end of his shift and letting the party pass him
till he takes his position at the rear and the second man becomes the
leader and so on.
People who are wise, will avoid stepping on the Skis of the man ahead.
This is often difficult as instinct makes one want to go faster than
the person ahead, just as a wheeler in a tandem will usually try to
catch up the leader. The easiest way to avoid overlapping is to keep
step. Push forward the right foot, when the man ahead pushes forward
his right foot and then the left. This gives a rhythm to the uphill
work, which also seems to minimize effort. Anyone who has experienced
the irritation caused by his Skis being constantly touched by the
runner behind while plodding uphill will learn to spare another the
When running straight down a steep slope make sure that there is no
one ahead whom you might run into and no one below on either side,
who might traverse across the slope you propose to run down. This is
especially necessary in a gap between trees. Another member of your
party might be among the trees below and suddenly come out into the
open, traversing to the other side. When straight running at any
speed, only the best Ski runners can turn suddenly to avoid a
difficulty, and a nasty collision may occur if care be not exercised.
When a crowd of people are taking their Skis by train, a great deal of
trouble may be avoided in getting the mass of Skis out of the train if
these are tied neatly together.
A pair of Skis tied near the tips and behind the bindings is easy to
handle, while a pair of Skis put together by slipping one through the
toe-strap of the other is a great nuisance.
Skis piled together soon become very like a heap of spillikins if not
carefully handled and a good deal of damage may be done to them as
well as delay to the train if Ski-ers are careless in this small
Another good plan is for the Ski-ers to form themselves into a queue
and to hand out all the Skis along the line, till they can be easily
distributed where there is space. The beginner is apt to hunt
anxiously for his own pair, which may be at the bottom of the pile,
and while he pulls and tugs with but little success, other people are
waiting in vain for a chance to get their Skis out. This is especially
the case on funicular railways, where space is very limited in the
stations. Different nationalities travelling together add considerably
to the confusion and the railway officials are usually thankful to
anyone who will take charge and get a line formed and the Skis handed
These hints may seem unnecessary to a great many people, but no
matter. I have had so much of my own time wasted by this sort of
tiresome lack of sense that I venture to suggest a means of saving
time and temper for others.
Ski runners should remember that sledges and pedestrians have the
right of way on a road. All the fields are open to the Ski runner and
he should not monopolize a road. In most parts of Switzerland there
is a law by which everyone has right of way everywhere where the snow
lies--so long as it is not enclosed ground. This was brought home
to my family rather vividly, when we lived at Davos, by a shooting
gallery being set up on our land in front of our house. We had no
power to prevent it and there it remained for the winter. At the same
time, Ski runners should respect the property of other people, and
here I would like to make two appeals to British runners.
Firstly, that we will do our best to avoid damaging young trees. (Old
trees can probably look after themselves where the Ski-er is concerned
as they are usually stronger than he is.)
Secondly, that we should treat the inhabitants of the country with as
much courtesy as possible. The peasant, over whose land we run, makes
very little out of the tourist business and has other things to think
about rather than sport. He is usually courteous and friendly and
always ready to help us when in difficulties. Let us return his
hospitality be treating him with courtesy. School teachers have told
me that they have great difficulty in persuading the children to greet
foreigners because these so seldom respond. Yet few things are more
pleasant than the friendly "Gruesse," or "Gruess Gott," or "Leb wohl,"
with which one is greeted by the people of the country. We can answer
in English if we do not know how to answer in German, but do let us
answer and, thereby, prove ourselves as friendly as our hosts.
Another matter, which is not always understood by beginners on the
snow fields is that when an Alpine Club or local Ski Club hut is used,
a fee should be paid to the funds which support the Hut. These Huts
are expensive to build and their upkeep is a great tax on the Clubs.
British runners can either join the local Club, when they can use
the Huts by day for nothing, or they can pay the advertised fee for
whatever use they make of them.
A notice is always posted in the Hut showing the various charges, but
when no one is there to collect the money, it is left to the honour
of the guests to pay it. A money-box can be found in all huts within
Switzerland proper, but as these boxes are not safe from marauders
near the frontier, the Ski runner has to send the money in by post. At
the Boval hut, for instance, above the Morteratsch Glacier, a supply
of money order forms will be found hanging near a door. All the leader
of the party has to do is to collect the money from his members, take
one of the forms and pay the money into any post office, whence it is
sent to the H.Q. of the Club.
Huts should invariably be left tidy. This also is a matter of honour.
The doors are unlocked always in order that people who may need
hospitality, in case of distress, can find shelter. Blankets can be
borrowed. Wood is usually provided for firing and there may even be a
reserve of food, all of which should be respected. Before the party
leaves, blankets should be folded, shutters should be shut, snow swept
out and debris buried outside, or what can be used as fuel put away
tidily in the kitchen. Then the door should be shut carefully and
the hut left the better, rather than the worse off for having given
SNOW AND LIGHT
Full descriptions of the different types of snow which must be
negotiated by the Ski-runner will be found in Mr. Arnold Lunn's book,
It is only necessary for me, therefore, to describe the four main
types, namely, soft, hard, crust and sticky snow.
Soft snow in winter is the new powder snow, which is to be found after
a fall or on North slopes where sun and wind have not spoilt it. It is
the ideal snow for the luxurious runner, especially two days after it
has fallen, when it has settled down and a hard frost has converted it
into crystal powder. A run through crystallized snow, which tinkles as
the Skis cut through it, is beyond description.
Even a bad runner will find that he can do marvels as the snow seems
literally to help him in all his experiments. I have known a day when
a blinding blizzard has started blowing the snow into my face and I
have run fast along the bottom of a valley with my eyes shut. The
Skis kept to the lowest line and ran safely and steadily through this
powder snow at a low gradient. It is not suggested that blind running
should be indulged in as a rule and I only quote this case to show how
helpful is good powder snow.
The Telemark is the usual turn in soft snow. Christiania and jump
turns can also be used by people who are proficient and strong, but
they require both skill and strength.
Soft snow is usually found on North slopes or at the bottom of shady
valleys or even behind any ridge which protects it from the sun or
wind. Also among trees which shelter it. Tracks ruin it in time so
that it is usually wise to sidle off the track and try new snow beside
Luckily for the experienced runner, most beginners usually behave
rather like sheep, preferring tracks to exploring on their own. The
result is that perfect snow can often be found alongside the beaten
track, and when this gets spoilt, it is only necessary to go a little
further afield in order to get a good run. Then, as more and more
people beat down the track it becomes hard and very amusing running
can be had there.
Hard snow is of two types--a beaten track or a hard crust where the
sun has melted the surface and the frost at night has frozen it, so
that it will bear the weight of the Ski-runner. When this is really
solid enough to allow of side-slipping and stem, or Christiania turns,
it is very trustworthy and easy to negotiate. At first, however, it
intimidates the beginner, because it is very fast. As time goes on and
he becomes accustomed to the skid and rattle of hard snow, he will
find that his horror turns into pleasure because he can trust it. The
Nursery slopes become hard after two or three days and will provide
useful experience for coping with such snow on a run.
The lifted stem and Christiania are the best turns on hard snow. A
Telemark is apt to skid too much.
Crust is the bugbear of all runners and is out and away the most
difficult to tackle. It may be hard, and then with nothing apparent on
the surface to warn you, the Skis break through and catch in the crust
and down you go. When crust is about, let someone else lead, and then
profit by his experience.
There are many forms of crust, all of which may be met on the same
run, and when wind has been at work, there may be crust on North
slopes and not on South. After rain too, when the surface has been
soaked and a frost follows, crust will be found everywhere.
Sticky snow is usually due to the effect of the sun or to Fohn wind
or thaw. It is easily coped with by proper waxing of the running
surfaces, but the sudden sticking of the skis, which have been running
well over wet snow in the open, when they get into cold powder snow
under trees or in shadow, is very disconcerting.
The same is apt to happen when people have dried their Skis in the sun
by sticking them on end while lunching. The sun not only dries them
but warms them so that if the first run after lunch is in shadow and
the snow is cold, the Skis stick because the warm surfaces melt the
snow, which immediately freezes again and adheres to the Skis, so that
they come to an absolute standstill.
The only way to avoid sticking is to keep the running surfaces of the
Skis in good condition by oiling them thoroughly and to carry one or
two different types of wax for use according to circumstances.
The great thing is to get practice on all types of snow and never to
mind it. Look upon crust as a joke, and learn jump turns, which are
the only safe turns for any but the strongest runners. Some of these
can accomplish a Telemark, or stem-turn or even a Christiania on every
sort of snow, but most people are content with the jump turn on crust.
The great trouble of this turn is that it is very tiring when a heavy
Rucksack is carried, but knack and good use of the stick will help it.
Light is a great factor in Ski-ing. On a fine day when visibility is
good, it is easy to distinguish between the rise and fall of country
ahead and, therefore, to be prepared for decrease or increase in
speed. Some days when the sky is clouded, it is practically impossible
to tell what is coming. This difficulty is increased in a narrow
valley when the reflection of the slopes on either side make the whole
surface look identical.
Coloured glasses may help a little, but it is better to run slowly and
to take no risks. On these occasions tracks help immensely as they
give the eye something to follow. Rocks and trees also help; anything
that breaks the surface of the snow and shows up the gradient ahead.
Falls!--what a word. When I first thought of writing this book, it
struck me that the best selling title would be "Ski-ing without
Falls." But then I remembered that I could never look a beginner in
the face again if, knowing that he had read my book, I saw him fall.
Besides which, a Ski runner who never falls, is probably but a poor
exponent of the sport. When you begin to run comfortably and can do
the turns at low speeds, falls show that you are still trying to
learn more of the game. It is only by trying new things that a
runner becomes really proficient and you are almost certain to fall
constantly as you learn. There is art in falling on Skis as well as in
running and turning. Fall loose. Let yourself go; never try to save
yourself when once you find the fall is inevitable and get rid of your
sticks. You will have the most amazing falls on Skis and nobody will
listen to your descriptions of them because they are just as eager to
describe their own. The surprising thing is how little people hurt
themselves--knees and ankles go most. The strain on the knee and ankle
is very great in some falls, but if you let yourself go and relax your
muscles as you fall, you will find that even ankles and knees survive
as a rule.
I once saw a really good runner turn three somersaults while
nose-driving down a steep slope at high speed in soft snow. And all
the damage done was two hat-pins snapped! Moral, don't wear hat-pins.
People are so tangled up sometimes that they do not know whether the
Ski tip sticking out of the snow belongs to their right or left foot,
and they have to dig with their sticks before they can extricate
themselves. And sometimes the results of a fall are so intricate that
the runner could never extricate himself, but needs the help of a
friend, who will undo a binding so as to free him. The most curious
fall I ever saw was when a man, running down a steep slope among
trees, ran into a fir tree on the upper side where the snow was lying
well up the trunk. He then fell head downwards into the hole below the
tree where the snow had not penetrated and, his Skis being caught in
the branches, there he hung. Had he been alone, I doubt whether he
would ever have succeeded in getting free. As it was, we undid a
binding quickly and no damage was done.
Not only is there art in falling but there is a technique of getting
up. Before attempting to get up, arrange your Skis so that they are
ready to stand on. Suppose they are crossed below you on a steep
slope, lie on the slope, raise the Skis in the air, uncross them, set
them parallel across the slope below you, facing the way you want to
go, and get up. This fall is sometimes used as a turn and may be
very useful, though not considered the best possible form if done
Never attempt to get up on to Skis facing downhill. They will only
go off with you the moment you begin to rise, and then down you flop
If you fall head downwards down a slope, you still have to get your
Skis parallel across the slope below you before you can stand up, and
the only thing to be done is to turn a somersault uncrossing your Skis
in the air if they are crossed and getting them below you and then
standing up. All of which is extremely easy, but it is very necessary
to ensure that clothes are so made that the powder snow cannot slip
into crevices while you are gambolling in this fashion. The first
thing I do before getting up from a fall is to put up my hands and let
the snow shake out of my glove gauntlets.
If you are so tangled up in a fall that it is almost impossible to get
out, just undo a binding, slip off a Ski and get up easily with a free
foot to stand on. And, if you see anyone else so tangled up that he
does not begin to get up immediately, hurry to his assistance, because
his ankle or knee may be in a very strained position and he may be
thankful to you for undoing a binding and releasing him. It is in
these falls that the leather heel bindings so often prove better than
a rigid toe binding. The leather will ease a little or slip and allow
the foot to turn a fraction of an inch so that the strain is not
maintained long enough to cause real damage.
Falls are often half the fun of Ski-ing, and every runner who is
trying something new will sometimes fall in the endeavour. So never
lose hope, however much you fall. If you have been running rather
well, and then get a day when you do nothing but only means that you
are stale and that your muscles and nerves need a rest. This is where
the all-round Winter sportsman gains. He can spend a day on the rink
or curling or tobogganing and not feel that he has wasted time.
Never scoff at people because they fall. A first-class runner is
supposed to be able to run at high speed, using turns without falling.
So he will, probably, if he intends to, but no first-class runner
worth his salt would always run like this. He will always be trying
something more difficult, turns at higher speed or in difficult snow,
and consequently he will often be seen to fall, and the beginner who
scoffs is merely voted an ignoramus. Here again a runner will be
judged by his tracks. Look carefully at the place where he ran and try
to make out what turn he was trying and what the snow was like, and
why he fell. You can learn a great deal from other people's tracks.
Falls in deep snow are always a little more risky than on hard snow,
because there is greater strain on muscles and ligaments. On hard snow
you get many a bump and scratch, but the results are less lasting than
a torn ligament.
Having got up safely from your fall, look on the snow and see what you
have dropped before starting off again. Even pockets with flaps may
allow of leakage.
It is wise to tie your Rucksack firmly with a strap round your waist
because, if it is loose, anything heavy inside may give you a nasty
bump on the head as you fall.
There are three British Ski tests under the Federal Council of British
Ski Clubs. In addition to these, different centres and local clubs
often set an elementary test for beginners in order that these may be
sorted into various standards for expeditions.
Hitherto the Elementary test has usually been a run down a certain
distance within a time set by the judges. This is not an altogether
satisfactory test, as the beginner, who goes straight down sitting on
his Skis may get through, while another, who conscientiously tries to
run standing, falls the whole time and fails. Style might be judged
and the sitting candidate disqualified, but when, as often happens,
some seventy or eighty people enter for an Elementary test, the judges
have their hands full enough with starting and timing, apart from
watching individual running critically as in the 2nd-class test.
A better way, therefore, is to flag a line, which must be followed,
providing traverses across slopes, which soon catch out the sitting
Beginners usually hate traversing because they dislike the look of a
steep slope and do not know how to prevent the instinctive pointing
straight downwards of the Skis. They do not realize yet that if they
would stand upright on their Skis while traversing, and lead with the
upper foot while they put their weight on the lower foot and keep
their whole weight somewhat on their heels, they will traverse quite
easily at a gentle angle.
The Elementary test ought to be so planned as to force this type of
Another way of running an Elementary test is for a judge to lead at a
steady easy pace for an hour's cross-country run, including both up
and downhill, as well as level running and obstacles. The test would
be timed, an ample margin being allowed beyond the judge's time. All
those, who finished within the time would pass.
This would probably not be nearly so popular a Test with the
candidates as the short downhill run, but it would be a far better
test of their capacity for touring.
The British Ski tests consist of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd-Class Tests, the
Regulations for which will be found in the Ski Year Book, which can
be obtained from the Hon. Secretary, Federal Council of British Ski
Clubs, Essex Court, Temple, London, E.C. They can also be obtained
from any official representative of one of the British Clubs in
Switzerland, and are printed as an Appendix at the end of this book.
In the 3rd class test, which is the first and which has to be passed
before the runner can go up for his 2nd class, there are three parts.
Part (a) is a climb of 1,500 feet in not more than 1-1/2 hours and a
run down 1,500 feet in a time set by the judges. The time may not be
less than seven, or more than twenty minutes. It should not be more
than 12 minutes under good conditions.
Men must carry Rucksacks weighing not less than 6 lbs., and women 3
lbs. Sealskins may be used for the climb.
Part (b) consists of four consecutive lifted stem-turns on a slope
of 15 deg. to 20 deg., and Part (c) four consecutive Telemark turns on a
slope of the same gradient. Parts (b) and (c) are often used as
a qualifying test before Part (a) is run, in order to limit the
entries for Part (a), which may otherwise be a very difficult test
to run when a large field enters for it.
Candidates who enter for this test should really take pains to ensure
that their bindings fit their boots and that they have everything
necessary for a run as well as being up to the standard. Speaking as
a judge of four years' standing, who has run innumerable tests, I may
say that it is pitiable to see the number of casual people who will
come up for a test without reading the regulations and without being
in any way prepared for a 1,500 ft. climb. Few things are more
disagreeable than having to disqualify a candidate, who turns up
without a Rucksack, or more miserable than having to shepherd down
beginners who are worn out by a run for which they are quite out of
training. The one comfort is that a candidate, who is pertinacious and
courageous enough to face this test five or six times without passing
and goes in again, is almost sure to pass in the end.
For the judge's sake, however, I strongly urge such a candidate to
time himself over similar runs with his friends and to persist in this
until he proves that he is up to 3rd-class standard, when he will be a
very welcome candidate in the test itself.
A course is easily found by using an aneroid, or it may also be worked
off the Ordnance Map. Any ordinary watch with a second hand will
suffice for the timing of one's own run.
Some people may think that I am a little harsh in my reasons for
suggesting that beginners should not enter for the running part of the
3rd-class test so lightheartedly. It is really for their own sakes as
much as for that of the judge's. Failure is very discouraging, and I
have known people's nerve quite upset by one of these runs. They have
tried to race down and have taken really nasty tosses in their rush,
while the fatigue of constant falling and getting up out of deep snow,
becoming more and more out of breath in the anxiety to compete, is
very bad for their running. I have often wanted to hide my head in
shame when coming home after such a test with a lot of worn-out
people, wet through, who have failed. And yet, such is life, that many
with the first breath, after they finish exhausted, will ask when the
next Test takes place in order that they may compete again. Such a
candidate really does one's heart good.
Tests have probably done more than anything else to improve the
standard of British running. We all have a liking for competition, and
here is our chance. Having succeeded in passing the 3rd-class test,
we can wear a badge and then we have to ski better in order to prove
worthy of it, and presently we see no reason against qualifying for
the 2nd-class test before going home. "After all, the turns only have
to be done on a steeper slope." "The run can be put off till next
Winter, and passed the moment we come out," they say.
The 1st-class standard is rising higher and higher as British Ski
runners become more proficient. The runner who passed a year or two
ago now hesitates to wear the gold badge, because he often realizes
that his speed and turns are not good enough for what is now required.
Judges of the British Ski tests may be found in most well-known
centres, but, as there are very few 1st-class people, the tests for
this class are usually run in one or two districts only.
GUIDES AND SKI INSTRUCTORS
Swiss Guides are certificated by the Swiss Alpine Club and are the
only people permitted by law to guide parties among the higher
mountains. A tariff exists in every district showing the fees which
these Guides must charge. In addition to the fee, the client usually
gives a gratuity and also pays for the Guide's accommodation and
provisions on the tour. A percentage may be added for numbers greater
than those provided for in the tariff, while on a really difficult
tour, the Guide will probably refuse to take more than two or three
runners unless a second Guide or porter be engaged. The Certificated
Guides wear a badge issued by the Swiss Alpine Club and any man
wearing this may be depended upon to be a good fellow, a careful
Guide, and a philosopher and friend. Most of them can now ski well,
though a few of the older ones may not be very proficient in technique
and may be stick riders.
When on tour with a Guide, he is responsible for the safety of the
party, and every member should do his best to help him by carrying out
any instructions he may give for their greater safety. This is not
always appreciated by people who do not know the Alps and their
unwritten laws, and the Guides complain somewhat bitterly that they
are often put in very difficult positions. For instance, on one
occasion, when a party was crossing an avalanche slope, the Guide
asked them to go singly at intervals of 20 metres, so that if anyone
was carried away, the others would not be involved and could go to his
rescue. One of the party was overheard saying: "Oh! he is only trying
to prove how careful he is in order to get a higher tip," and they
were careless in their carrying out of the instructions.
In any case it is discourteous not to do what the Guide prescribes and
he is put in a very false position as he is held responsible.
Ski Instructors belong to a different category, unless they are also
Certificated Guides, which is often the case. In some Cantons, such as
Graubuenden, the Instructors have to pass an examination showing
their capacity to ski and also to teach. Many of them are perfectly
beautiful runners, but they should not be pressed to conduct tours
where glacier work or rock climbing is involved. They are not examined
for this and they hold no credentials, and if an accident occurs,
everyone is blamed. There are a great many other runs they are allowed
to lead and they will set as good a course as anyone would wish for.
Before engaging a Guide, or an Instructor on the recommendation of the
concierge, get some expert advice as to who is the best. The Secretary
of the local Ski Club would advise or some good runner in the
In some parts of Switzerland the Guides and Instructors have taken to
touting for clients. They hang about the hotels and try to induce the
unwary to engage them and to go for tours for which they are often
not fit. The better Swiss Guides are the first to want the public to
discourage this type of behaviour, as it is doing a lot of harm to
their good name.
When a Guide is engaged, treat him as a friend and trust him. They
are usually a most obliging and reliable set of men, who will do
everything in their power for their clients, such as carrying food and
spare clothing, waxing skis, attaching skins and even making terms in
inns, and cooking the food in huts when on tour. Their knowledge of
the mountains and their experiences are well worth probing, and they
will usually talk willingly when kindly dealt with. They are quick
judges of character and if the younger ones are sometimes a little
inclined to take advantage of the people who do not treat them
suitably, only those people themselves can be blamed. The
old-fashioned Guides are never familiar, though they are very friendly
and will always do their best for the entertainment of their party.
They should not be petted and flattered, neither should they be
treated as inferiors. A happy medium is easily found which is what the
Guide will prefer, because in his heart of hearts, he has the whole of
the Swiss characteristics--great dignity, independence and respect for
On a long and dangerous tour the safety of the party may ultimately
depend upon the trust and confidence placed in the Guide in charge,
and by him in his clients, and this should be remembered in all
negotiations. These men often have to risk their lives for the sake of
the people who employ them, and their staunch unselfishness is a fine
example of human endeavour for the benefit of others. Their fees may
appear to be high, but when everything is taken into consideration,
including the shortness of their Winter and Summer Seasons, it is soon
realized that the fees are not exorbitant.
MAPS AND FINDING THE WAY
Every Ski runner going across country should carry a map. Even on a
short run a great deal can be learnt from a map, which will prove
useful later on a longer run. Both time and risk can be saved by
people who run by their map and who know how to avoid dangerous places
and how to take advantage of narrow safe openings.
There are different types of maps to be had in Switzerland. The
best are the official Ordnance Maps published by the Eidg.
Landestopographie at Bern. The mountain districts are produced at a
scale of 1 centimetre in 50,000 centimetres or 2 centimetres in one
kilometre, and large or small sheets can be bought almost everywhere.
The gradients are clearly shown by contour lines. The equidistance
being 30 metres, or roughly 100 feet, the dotted contour lines when
height is marked some every 8 or 10 ordinary contour lines. This
differs according to the edition. Cliff and rock are shown grey, while
glacier contour lines are blue.
Some districts, such as the Bernese Oberland, have produced this map
with red lines showing all the Ski runs. In other places they also
provide Ski-ing maps, but on a different scale and not as good as the
All maps are best when mounted on linen, as the weathering they
receive on a run may reduce a paper map to pulp or rag.
It is easy to work out the distance of runs or the gradient of slopes
from the large scale Ordnance Map. 1 in 50,000 metres means that 1
centimetre on the map equals a run of 50,000 metres; 2 centimetres
equal a kilometre or 100,000 metres; 8 kilometres equal five English
miles. Therefore, if a centimetre measure be carried, the distances
are soon ascertained with a minimum of arithmetic.
Throughout this chapter I have taken the mathematical or map gradient
and not the engineer's gradient. The latter is generally used, I
understand, to measure the gradients of roads, railways, etc.
To avoid confusion when Ski-ing, the gradient is usually named by the
angle of the slope.
The gradient of slopes is shown by the contour lines, the drop between
each being 30 metres or approximately 100 feet. The table on p. 92 was
got out by Commander Merriman, R.N., and has proved very useful to
me in setting tests as well as in judging whether slopes are
comparatively safe from avalanche or not.
A slope showing eight 30-metre contour lines in one centimetre works
out roughly at 27 deg., which is a steeper slope than most people care to
take straight, running over unknown country. Anything steeper than
this is apt to avalanche in certain conditions, though a 30 deg. slope
should usually be safe. (A 25 deg. slope may be dangerous under some
A comfortable slope is 5 contour lines in 1 centimetre, or a gradient
of 17 deg.. Taking English measurements as in Commander Merriman's scale,
16 contour lines in one inch on the map.
The beginner will probably content himself with slopes where 10
contour lines are shown in one inch, or a gradient of about 13 deg..
ROUGH TABLE OF GRADIENTS.
Assuming 30 metre contours to be equal to 100 feet contours
(actually this is 98.4 feet). Natural Scale 1: 50,000.
Drop per inch | Average angle | Gradient
on map. | of slope. | 1 in.
100' | 1 deg. 24' | 40.9
200' | 2 deg. 45' | 20.8
300' | 4 deg. 07' | 13.9
400' | 5 deg. 29' | 10.4
500' | 6 deg. 50' | 8.3
600' | 8 deg. 12' | 6.9
700' | 9 deg. 33' | 5.9
800' | 10 deg. 52' | 5.2
900' | 12 deg. 11' | 4.6
1,000' | 13 deg. 30' | 4.2
1,100' | 14 deg. 47' | 3.8
1,200' | 16 deg. 04' | 3.5
1,300' | 17 deg. 20' | 3.2
1,400' | 18 deg. 34' | 3.0
1,500' | 19 deg. 48' | 2.8
1,600' | 21 deg. 00' | 2.6
1,700' | 22 deg. 11' | 2.5
1,800' | 23 deg. 22' | 2.3
1,900' | 24 deg. 30' | 2.2
2,000' | 25 deg. 39' | 2.1
2,100' | 26 deg. 45' | 2.0
2,200' | 27 deg. 50' | 1.9
2,300' | 28 deg. 53' | 1.8
2,400' | 29 deg. 56' | 1.7
2,500' | 30 deg. 58' | 1.6
Up till now I have only been describing the official Ordnance Maps.
There are several other maps which may also be useful.
The Dufour maps are good for direction and lie of country, but their
scale being 1 in 100,000 they are not much help for actual running.
The local Ski Tour Map is useful to show where the usual tours go,
but cannot always be trusted for gradients or cliffs and rocks. The
Pontresina map, for instance, though showing an equidistance of 30
metres as in the Ordnance Maps, really has 50 metres contour lines,
which might be a terrible snare to the unwary, who would confidently
run towards a slope, thinking it was about 20 deg. and find that it was
nearer 35 deg., or an avalanche slope. In a case like this the Ordnance
Map must be used for actual running, while the Ski Tour Map is used to
show the line to be followed.
In some districts, such as the Bernese Oberland, the Ordnance map has
been used for the local Ski tour map, and the tours shown on it in
red. This is a great saving of weight and money for the runner, who
then only has one map to carry.
Most Ski maps show dangerous avalanche slopes. The local Summer map
published in most tourist centres in Switzerland is not much use to
the Ski runner, because it shows walks which may be along slopes or
down cliffs, which are perfectly safe in Summer and very dangerous in
I strongly advise all beginners who are bitten by the joy of Ski-ing
to buy, at any rate, the small local sheet of the Ordnance Map which
usually only costs Frs. 1.30, or roughly 1s., and to study it
carefully, noticing the contour lines on the well-known Nursery
slopes, and gradually realizing the gradient represented by the
different widths between them.
Let him also notice the difference between a hill and a hole on the
map. This is easily recognized either by the thin blue line of a
stream emerging from a lake, or by comparing the nearest heights shown
on the dotted lines or some marked point. Contours are often puzzling
to a beginner in map reading, but knowledge of what they represent may
save a party from a weary climb back up a place they have gaily ski-ed
down, thinking they could get through but finding an impossible slope
or fall of rock which forced them to retrace their steps.
Before going on tour even with a Guide, it is wise to study the map
with a view to knowing where an Alpine hut can be found in case of
need, or where a hay chalet could offer shelter.
When once the Ski runner has begun to appreciate the fun and interest
of running by a map, he will never leave it behind, and he will be
able to enjoy all sorts of runs he would never know of if he were
content with the sheep habit of "following tracks."
The greatest fun of Ski-ing is in finding one's own way, and this one
can never hope to do without a map.
The following scale of comparative heights in metres and feet may be
of use in estimating the heights of points which the Ski runner wishes
10 metres equal 33 feet (approximately).
50 " " 164 "
100 " " 328 "
250 " " 820 "
500 " " 1,640 "
1,000 " " 3,281 "
2,000 " " 6,562 "
3,000 " " 9,843 "
A compass is, of course, useful when running by map, but as precipices
are apt to get in the way when running straight for any given point,
a compass cannot be trusted alone. In the case of fog, it is very
difficult to avoid difficulties, and points on the map can only be
identified by the use of an aneroid, as well as a compass. Set the
aneroid at the point you start from and check your heights by this as
you climb or descend, referring constantly to the map to ensure that
you are running on the right line. It is wise to practise this on
clear days in order to get accustomed to running by map, compass
and aneroid. As the weather also affects the aneroid, it should be
constantly reset at known levels.
All this may sound very confusing, and most beginners will probably
prefer to take a Guide who knows his country well rather than trust to
elementary map-reading knowledge in unknown country. Most runners
who go on tour will find running much more interesting, however, if
instead of following a Guide blindly they also watch the map or get
a knowledge of what is good or bad country to run over. There are
sometimes cases also when the party must necessarily divide, and an
amateur may have to take the lead over unknown country.
Much has been written on this subject. Mr. Arnold Lunn, in "The
Alps," tells some extraordinary stories about these monsters of the
mountains. My father, John Addington Symonds, in "Our Life in the
Swiss Highlands," also describes them.
There was a very interesting article by Monsieur F. Krahnstoever in
the "Swiss Ski Club Year-Book for 1923" on the subject of avalanches
in relation to Ski-ing. They are an everlasting nightmare to Ski
runners in high places, and beginners should at once take care to
learn all they can of snow-craft in order, in so far as possible, to
realize what is safe and what is dangerous.
The steepness of slopes and the condition of snow, as well as the
direction of wind, are all factors affecting avalanches.
Any slope whose gradient is more than 15 deg. may be dangerous under
certain conditions, but it may be generally accepted that most long
slopes under 25 deg. are comparatively safe so long as they have not much
steeper slopes immediately above or below them.
New snow is always apt to slip before it has had time to settle down.
Snow blown by wind into a cornice or overhanging lip at the top of a
slope or on a cliff may topple down and start an avalanche.
Wet snow, after rain, or a warm Foehn wind, becomes heavy and begins to
A very dangerous condition is new soft snow lying on a slope covered
with old hard snow.
Trees or rocks sticking up through the snow make such slopes safer, as
they tend to prevent the snow from beginning to slip. This is why the
Forestry Laws of Switzerland are so strict. In some districts the
owner of a forest may not cut a tree unless it has been approved
by the Government forester. This is to ensure that the forests are
maintained as a protection for the villages in the valleys below.
Beginners should never go on a tour without first ascertaining that
the route they propose to follow is a safe one. And if there is the
slightest doubt, owing to weather conditions, they should put it off
for a day or two. Some runs are perfectly safe when the snow has
settled and a sharp frost has bound it, but they may become dangerous
again when a thaw sets in, a Foehn wind is blowing, or rain has fallen.
The Ski runner himself may start an avalanche on a slope where the
snow would lie safely if he did not pass along it. The cutting of his
track, breaking the continuity of the snow, may set it going either
above or below him and he will be carried away with it.
Wherever there seems to be the slightest risk of avalanche the party
should separate and proceed in single file at about 20-yard intervals.
Then if a runner is carried away, the others will be able to go to
his assistance. In some cases, however, even this is not sufficient
protection as the whole slope may go at once. In old days before the
railways had tunnelled through the passes we were driving over the
Fluela above Davos on our way to Italy in March. We were in the post
consisting of some 20 one-horse sledges and had just left the Hospiz
when we met the up-coming post, also consisting of a number of
one-horse sledges. It took some time to pass, as the track was narrow
and the horses floundered in the deep snow when passing each other.
After we had got by and were continuing on our way down to Sues, we
turned along an outstanding buttress of cliff and saw that some two
miles of steep slope ahead had avalanched. The whole surface of the
snow had slipped to the bottom of the valley and if either of the
diligences had been on this slope when it happened, horses, sledges
and all would have been carried away.
This experience fixed avalanche danger very firmly in my mind, and
having also seen several large avalanches falling, as well as the
immense amount of damage done to forests and chalets by these
insuperable monsters, I have never wished to risk getting into a large
Even a small avalanche is very overwhelming and a beginner who has
felt its effects soon realizes what it may mean. Choose a _very_ short
steep slope on a day when the snow is slipping and try to get it
going. Once it moves and entangles your legs and Skis, you will feel
the extraordinary helplessness which results. This was one of our
games when I was a child. Without Skis it is possible to float on top
of a baby avalanche and to enjoy it, but with Skis on, the feet soon
become entangled and helplessness results.
The first thing to do when an avalanche starts and no escape is
possible is to get the Ski bindings undone and the feet free. Then
"swim" with arms and legs and try to keep on top. If buried, keep one
arm over nose and mouth so as to keep air space and push the other arm
up, pointing the Ski stick through to the open so that it may show
your whereabouts. This is easy to describe, but probably not so easy
to carry out if the occasion arises.
One of the first books on Ski-running advises people to carry some 60
metres of red tape and to let this trail behind them when crossing
dangerous ground. Then, if overwhelmed by an avalanche, the red thread
can be picked up by the search party and the victim may quickly be dug
out. I have never met anyone who has carried out this suggestion and
do not want the extra weight of red tape in my Rucksack, but it makes
one think and realize how much other experienced runners have thought
The following precautions would seem to me to be better:
Never ski along, or above, or below a dangerous-looking slope under
Never go for a tour without making sure beforehand that the route you
propose to follow is a safe one.
Always carry out any instructions your Guide or the experienced leader
of your party may give. If you have any sudden doubt about the safety
of the slope you are on, make quickly for the nearest rocks sticking
If there are trees near get among them as quickly and quietly as you
If the snow begins to slip and you see no chance of Ski-ing quickly
away from the dangerous place, get your Skis off. This is where toe
bindings may be safer than heel bindings as they come off quicker.
Never follow a track across a slope, about which you are doubtful,
thinking hopefully that the runner who cut it knew more than yourself.
Never cut a track across a dangerous place at your own risk if there
is the slightest chance of misleading another runner into danger
Remember that though you yourself may be on a safe slope, the slope
above or below you may be so steep that the snow may slip off by
itself and your slope may be involved. This applies equally to running
along the bottom of a valley. The slopes on either side may be
dangerous, and if the snow slips you will be buried.
There are so many perfectly safe runs that it is folly to risk being
killed by an avalanche, when it can easily be avoided by a little
forethought and common sense.
Even if you do not mind the risk yourself, think not only of your
people waiting below, but also of the people who have to come and look
for your body. There have been several cases where the search party
have been overwhelmed by a second avalanche while digging for people
carried away by the first.
January and March are probably the most dangerous months from the
avalanche point of view. In January the fresh snow is apt to slide
before it has settled. A few days after a new snowfall, most of the
avalanches will have come down and the ordinary runs will be safe
again, but every snowfall entails the same risk. There are some slopes
where the snow will never stay in February, but unless a Foehn wind or
rain make the snow heavy, most slopes are pretty safe below a gradient
of 25 deg..
In March when the thaw begins more avalanches will fall. These usually
come down well-known tracks and can easily be avoided for this reason.
This chapter may appear to be somewhat intimidating, but it is better
to be safe than sorry. Very few experienced Ski runners get into
avalanches and if ordinary precautions are taken and the advice of
experts followed beginners need have no fear.
The Ski-ing maps usually show the more dangerous places, but every
runner should keep his own eyes open and learn all he can of
snow-craft in order to be able to explore new country as he becomes
Some people will think that I lay too much stress on the dangers of
Ski-ing. Considering the thousands of people who ski every Winter and
the extraordinarily small number of accidents, I admit that I have
exaggerated the dangers. But I do so quite deliberately because it is
only by realizing risks that they can be avoided, and my experience
proves to me that the average town-bred man and woman, boy and girl
have very little appreciation of life lived up against Nature. They
set out so lightheartedly and often so fool-hardily on an expedition,
without telling anyone where they propose to go, or when they expect
to be home, and without having provided themselves with the extra
equipment which may prove to be very necessary before the day is
While writing this book I have constantly had in mind Ski-ing centres
above 5,000 feet, whence tours are made among the glaciers and at high
levels where the cold may be a danger during the months of January and
February. Much of what I have said of the necessity of carrying spare
clothing in good quantity does not apply so much to places below 5,000
feet unless high tours are undertaken. But wherever people ski there
is a possibility of accidents due to falls, and though these are
seldom serious, they need attention.
When someone is really lamed by knee or ankle, Ski-ing becomes very
difficult, except to the expert, who can ski mainly on one foot, and
walking through the deep snow, sinking at every step, is an agony, so
that some form of stretcher becomes necessary.
Two or, better still, four Skis tied together, side by side, form an
excellent sledge, which will travel straight downhill every easily.
It practically refuses to traverse a slope so that the case has to be
slipped straight down to the bottom of the slope and along the valley
or level below.
Skis usually have holes through the flat part of the tip in front.
A piece of strong wire should be threaded through these, care being
taken that the Skis lie parallel their whole length and that the tips
are not drawn together too much. A stick must be tied to the wire and
the Ski tips to keep them in position and to take the pull when the
sledge is drawn along. If there are trees about, a branch can be cut
to serve this purpose. If not, a Ski stick must be cut in half and
used. It should not project beyond the Skis on either side, or it will
catch in the snow.
The other half of the Ski stick or another branch must be tied across
the Skis, by the toe irons, to keep the Skis parallel there also, and
to give solidity to the sledge. People sometimes tie a strap or string
round the Skis, including their running surfaces, forgetting that this
will soon cut through with the friction of the snow.
To finish the sledge, put some fir branches on it, the bushy part of
which will make it more comfortable to lie on. The thick wood of the
branch part should point towards the front of the Skis and be fixed
there. If branches are not available, Rucksacks can be used for the
injured person to lie on. He will probably be more comfortable going
downhill if he can be laid head-first downwards on the sledge.
To draw the sledge along, join a lap thong or sealskin or rope or
puttee to the outer Ski tips, and also to the ends of the stick across
them. In order to prevent this from pulling these Skis forward too
much it is well to tie a string to the inner Ski tips also and join
them to the pulling rope.
Another rope or thong should be attached to the stick and centre toe
irons, so that this can be held from behind to prevent the sledge
travelling too fast downhill. Experienced runners will be able to
travel on Skis while getting this sledge down, but beginners will do
well to wade on foot, especially the rear man, who has to control the
speed. Neither the pulling nor control rope should be attached to the
body of the person holding it because a sudden jerk may pull him over
and the sledge be stopped suddenly with a jar to the person hurt.
Most club huts are provided with excellent ambulance sledges, which
may be used, and which should be conscientiously returned to the
Rettungschef of the locality.
There is a Rettungschef in every mountainous district whose duty it is
to help with accidents when these are reported to him. He arranges to
send out Guides and porters with an ambulance sledge to the assistance
of any party in trouble. If, therefore, your accident be a serious
one, and you are far from home, the wisest plan may be to send one or
two of the best runners down to the nearest village for help, while
the remainder stay with the injured person. For this reason it is
always unwise to go out with fewer than three in a party. Five or six
are a better number on a long day's run.
Remember the people waiting at home, and when you have made
arrangements for help to go to your party ring up your friends and
tell them what has happened and what you have arranged. Having often
seen the anxiety of relations and friends when their party comes home
late, I know how important this is. Even if you are only delayed for
some small reason such as a train being late, it is kind to ring up,
and this is easily done, as there are telephones in almost every
While on this subject I would again like to urge that before going off
on an expedition of any length the Concierge and someone should be
told in writing the destination, the route, and the hour anticipated
for return. Then, if the party does not turn up and no news comes
through, a search party can be sent out with some hope of finding
them within a reasonable time. Time is very important in January
and February, when the weather is cold, as people can be badly
frost-bitten if benighted.
Search parties are expensive luxuries, as it is risky work for the
Guides, who deserve to be well paid for it. I have only once followed
a Rettungschef with his five assistants and their ambulance sledge,
and shall never forget the pace at which their lantern went ahead of
us, dancing like a will-of-the-wisp. A runner had come home at 5 p.m.
with news that one of the party had hurt his knee some four miles from
home. This runner had already wisely rung up the Rettungschef from the
first house he came to, and a party of Guides was being collected. I
decided to go out with some friends in case the accident was a serious
one and we could bring the remainder of the party home, and so save
the Guides that duty. They were all beginners who were benighted.
We followed the lantern and saw it stop and knew the Guides had
reached the people in trouble. When we caught up they already had the
patient looking like a mummy, rolled up in blankets in a canvas bag on
the sledge. I could hear him choking over the brandy which was being
poured down his throat. He had only hurt his knee, but his friends,
who were all real novices, had had a wearing time getting him down.
The way in which the Guides handled the job filled me with admiration
and confidence. When they found we were ready to herd the party home,
they shot off with their sledge and the lantern soon became a speck of
light in the distance again.
I also had a lantern that night, and found it delightful to ski by,
but doubt whether anyone else profited much by its light except as a
guide to direction.
When a person is hurt and helpless at a high level, in winter, cold is
the most immediate danger, and all spare clothing should be piled on
him, and his limbs should be rubbed to prevent frost-bite. When he
cannot be moved, a fire might well be lit if below tree level where
wood is available, because, though the lighting of fires is forbidden
in the Swiss forests, a breach of the law would surely be overlooked
in case of danger to life. The heat of the fire would help to keep
the patient warm, while its light would act as a beacon to the search
The following is the code of signals in use among the Alps:
_The Alpine Signal of Distress_--
(a) By Day.--The waving of anything (a flag or stick with an article
of clothing attached) six times in a minute, repeated after an
interval of one minute without signals.
(b) By Night.--A light flashed six times a minute, repeated after an
interval of one minute without signals.
(c) By Sound.--Six sharp calls, or whistles, in the minute, repeated
after an interval of one minute without signals.
_The Answering Call_--
(d) Anything waved, a light flashed, a sharp call, or whistle three
times in the minute, repeated after an interval of one minute without
If a Ski runner does not remember the exact signal any regular signal
repeated a definite number of times in a minute, with a minute's
interval, should prove sufficient. Similarly, if you hear a signal
repeated at short regular intervals, you should always suspect a call
An ordinary whistle is hardly loud enough for the sound to carry any
distance and a siren might be better. Newspaper could be used for a
flare if the party does not possess a lantern or electric torch, but
it would not last long.
Finally, may I suggest that everyone who takes up Ski-ing seriously,
and who carries gear to be used in emergency, should be proficient in
the use of such gear and not wait till it is needed to find out how to
To experiment in making an ambulance sledge while an injured person
lies beside you and when your fingers are cold and people are buzzing
round you with suggestions, which may or may not be better than your
own ideas, is a bad plan. It is wiser to have made the experiment at
home and to have got someone to drag you down a hill on the result,
and then you will know something about it. A new game for the Nursery
slopes, and what fun for the spectators who already think all Skiers
I would like to add at the end of this chapter on accidents that
during the many years I have enjoyed Ski-ing, and with the hundreds of
beginners I have helped, I have never met with a single really serious
One or two knees and ankles twisted and now and then a cut or severe
bruise have been among the worst cases I have come across.
THE ATTRACTIONS OF SKI-ING
Though some runners are content merely to enjoy the actual practice of
Ski-ing with all the difficulties to be overcome and the various turns
to be perfected, the greater proportion probably ski mainly on account
of the exhilaration obtained, the freedom enjoyed, and the wonderful
beauty of the places reached.
The amazing thing is that Skis were not used sooner among the Alps.
They have already in less than thirty years entirely altered the life
of the young people in far-away villages, who used to be practically
shut up during the winter months, but who can now ski from one place
to another on Sundays and holidays, enjoying the companionship of
their friends and widening their outlook by mixing with strangers.
This will probably have a very good effect on the population of the
High Alps, who will be less inclined to leave their homes in order
to get away from the monotony of the long winters. So much is this
appreciated that Ski-ing is now part of the school curriculum in some
districts, often taking the place of gymnastics during the winter.
It is amusing to watch the classes of children out on the Nursery
slopes with their teachers. While we foreign women Ski-runners are
provided with elaborate costumes, including breeches or trousers, the
little Swiss girls ski in frocks and cotton pinafores without cap or
hat, and often without gloves. Led by their teacher they wearily climb
up the slopes, and then comes the mad career home to the midday meal.
Twenty or thirty little girls all dashing down together practising
turns as they go, or making as straight down as they dare in their
effort to outpace their rivals.
The boys carry the sport still further and most local Ski-jumping
competitions start with a demonstration by the boys, who often do not
look more than 10 or 12 years old, and who go over the big jump as
straight as their elders and usually a good deal more gaily, as they
have not begun to appreciate the dangers. The smaller boys line the
sides of the jump and pour out at the word of the judge on to the
steep landing-slope like a lot of little goblins, jumping on their
Skis horizontally to flatten away any track or hole made by a jumper
who has failed to jump perfectly. Little chaps of seven or eight run
through the woods on these occasions, swanking their turns through the
trees and putting most grown-up runners to shame by their nimbleness.
At Pontresina one winter I was much amused by one of these small
children wearing a British third-class test badge which he must have
picked up. I asked him where he got it, but he hurried away for fear
I would claim it, and his Christianias through the big trees made me
Many of the children ski to school and back, getting endless practice
all through the winter months.
May I here appeal to British runners who may have old Skis, even
broken ones to throw away, to offer them to the local branch of the
Swiss Ski Club as there is an organization which mends them or cuts
them down for lending or giving to the school children, who are too
poor to provide themselves with Skis.
When the beginner has learnt the elements of straight running and
turns and begins to go off among the mountains the real interest of
Ski-ing is begun, with the slow climb up in single file, first of all
through woods and then out on to the open slopes. This is usually a
silent game as breath is needed for the climb, and it is dull work
keeping up a conversation with the back ahead. Sometimes, as one
inadvertently steps on the Skis ahead, a gruff word is flung back and
the trespasser is wise who stops, pretending to attend to his binding,
or to look at the view--the view is usually worth looking at, too, as
there is usually something to see. If it is not a distant view of the
Great Alps or of the valley below, it is of trees or rocks, which, if
examined carefully, usually show some sign of life. I remember being
snubbed by an ardent Ski-er because I ventured to ask "What are those
black birds?" "Who wants to know about birds when he is ski-ing?" was
the answer. I did want to know, and I found out that they were Alpine
choughs and I still want to know when I see the inhabitants of the
mountains or their tracks.
Most of the wild animals use old Ski tracks as highways now, even
finding it worth while to follow the zigzag of an uphill traverse.
Foxes, hares and roe deer all use them, the roe deers' feet showing so
much tinier than the chamois, who leaves a deep rough track as they
usually run in each other's footsteps. The hare's track when running
is two holes abreast and then two single ones. The fox runs rather
like a dog. The squirrel hops two feet at a time, often leaving a
slight ruffle on the snow as he swishes his tail. Among the cembra
trees in the Engadine the snow may be sprinkled with the nuts out of
the cones. They are delicious eating, being very like the Italian
stone pine nut, or pinelli, and they attract the squirrels as much as
they do the nutcracker bird.
Martens and pole cats leave distinct footmarks. Weasels, also, and
these are easily recognized as they usually start from a hole under a
bush or a rock. One day when a party of us were silently traversing a
slope above Muerren a tiny brown ball came rolling down, which, when
picked up, proved to be the warm dead body of a mouse. Looking up we
saw a weasel peering out of his hole anxious as to the fate of his
dinner. A mouse's track also usually starts from a tiny hole and the
two feet go abreast, while the tail leaves a line all the way.
We nearly always see chamois and roe deer when ski-ing in the woods
at Pontresina as it is a protected area and they are not shot and
therefore become very tame. The chamois are driven down into the woods
in search of the lichen which hangs like a beard from the branches of
the cembra trees. On Muottas Celerina this winter we saw four chamois
below us in the wood. Without a word our guide, Caspar Gras, dashed
down the slope after them and very nearly caught one round the neck,
as they were surprised, and knowing there was a precipice beyond the
scrub below them, they could not make up their minds which way to go.
The roe deer scrape away the snow below the trees in search of
alpenrose or bear berry leaves or dry blades of grass. They suffer
more than the chamois after a heavy snowfall because they are not so
strong and cannot scamper through it. At the beginning of this season,
Klosters had a snowfall of some two metres and the roe deer were
driven down to the villages where the peasants fed them in stables
till the weather improved. Four were caught on the railway, having got
on to the line at a crossing and being unable to spring out over the
high banks of snow.
Ibex are being let loose in order to re-establish them where they were
exterminated a few years ago. They can usually be seen through the
telescope at Bernina Hauser above Pontresina, and also opposite
Muerren. The ibex, or steinbock, is used as the Coat of Arms of the
Canton of Graubuenden, and is familiar to Ski runners as the badge of
the local Ski Club of Zuoz in the Engadine.
After some controversy eagles are being encouraged to increase, having
been almost exterminated. We saw a beauty sailing over the Muottas
Muraigl Valley one day. There is even talk of trying to get bear back,
but the peasants obstruct this as they were so destructive to sheep.
As a child at Davos I saw three bears brought in dead by hunters,
and remember with pride, mixed with disgust, tasting a bear's paw. A
peasant told me of how as a boy he looked after the village sheep near
the Silvretta Glacier, and of a bear who used to come and kill a sheep
and then bury it in the ice for future eating.
Ski runners shudder at the idea of meeting a bear while on a run, but
they need not worry as the bears roll up and sleep through the winter
so that unless the Ski-er took an unusually heavy fall into the bear's
hole, he would be safe enough on the surface. Besides which it is said
that a bear cannot traverse down a slope, so that the Ski-er could
easily get away unless the bear rolled to the bottom, and then ran
along and waited for him. As there are no bears in Switzerland now,
perhaps it is waste of time to start a controversy about the best turn
with which to circumvent a bear. Cows are much more dangerous. I was
pursued down the village street at Pontresina by a playful cow, who
had been taken to the pump to drink. She put down her head and stuck
up her tail and I wasted no time in pushing away from her.
Another animal which hibernates through the winter is the marmot, and
I often think of them sound asleep under the snow as I pass along the
slopes of some high valley. They are said to have breathing holes, but
I have never seen them, unless this was the explanation of some holes
which puzzled me on the Schiltgrat above Muerren. I was traversing
uphill a long way ahead of my party and noticed some isolated holes in
the snow, very like Ski stick holes, but with no Ski tracks near. As I
passed a grey hen flew out of one of the holes, and, looking back, I
saw several black cocks and grey hens flying away. It is more likely
that they had made their own holes to shelter in rather than that
these were marmot holes.
Ptarmigan often greet one on the higher ridges and sometimes a
capercailzie will get up with a noise which is very apt to upset one.
The choughs are persistent followers of a Ski-ing party, flying over
one's head and chirruping for lunch. When at last we stop and take our
nosebags out of our Rucksacks, they perch on a cliff near and wait
till we move on, when they immediately fly down to see what we have
left for them. I have seen a paper lunch-bag, which they were unable
to tear, absolutely surrounded by a circle of their footmarks, some
eight feet in diameter. How they must have worried it and each other
in their endeavour to get at the contents.
At Muerren a pair of ravens also accompany the Ski-ers. They take their
perch high up and watch the many luncheon parties, croaking now and
then to remind us of their wish to share our slices of beef and
sausage. These "packed lunches" are usually so plentiful that the
choughs and the ravens get a goodly feed. The tidy Ski-er who buries
all his paper and orange peel and other debris will often find next
day that the whole thing has been dug up by a fox.
At many of the Alpine huts, the snow-finch has adopted the habits of
the sparrow and is often so tame that he will almost take crumbs from
Another bird I love among the Alps is the dipper or water ouzel.
Ski-ing along the snow banks of the rivers, I have often watched him
hop down into the water and run along the bottom picking up whatever
his food is among the pebbles.
Surely most Ski runners can spare time to watch all these little
people, whose rights to the snow fields are even greater than their
Very little vegetation shows in winter, but it is wonderful what a lot
one can find if one looks carefully and it certainly makes Ski-ing
more interesting to me if I can recognize the trees, plants and seeds.
A very fair estimate can be made of the different heights by noticing
Corn stops at 2,000 to 3,000 feet, though a little rye may be grown
up to 5,000 feet in sunny places. Fruit trees and beech trees stop at
about 4,000 feet. There is one beech tree above Davos about 5,500 feet
above the sea, but it has never succeeded in topping the huge boulder
which shelters it from the North. The silver fir is healthy at 4,000
feet, but is seldom found much above that level, while the spruce or
fir goes up to 7,000 feet and does best there. Larches seem to thrive
best at about 5,000-6,000 feet, but may be seen almost as high as the
top of the Bernina Pass on the south side facing Italy. The cembra
pine, like a great cedar, is the finest tree in the Alps and does
best at 6,000 feet to 7,000 feet. It is also called the Arolla pine,
because of the forests near that place. In the Upper Engadine almost
all the forests are of cembra and there is one splendid old tree known
as the "Giant Tree" near upper tree level on Muottas Celerina. Another
group of veterans grows just below the Little Scheidegg on the
Grindelwald side. Many of these trees are said to be 600 or 700 years
old and their wood is much used for panelling in Graubuenden. It is
recognized by the big dark knots. The panels are usually formed of
boards reversed so that the knots form a symmetrical pattern. Larch is
also used and is very red, while sycamore goes to the making of tables
and chairs in the Buendner Stuebli. Good examples of the modern use
of these woods may be seen in the hotels, Vereina and Silvretta, at
Klosters, while the museum at Zurich contains beautiful old panelled
rooms from different districts.
Creeping down steep avalanche slopes above 5,000 feet we find _Pinus
montana_, whose long branches form a tangle in which to catch one's
Ski tips. Below 5,000 feet this pine will sometimes grow almost
upright but never attains much height. Alder may also be a trap for
Skis on an avalanche slope where it creeps downhill and provides a
very slippery surface for the snow. I remember shooting down such a
slope about 100 feet when the snow slipped with me in a safe place.
Along the rivers the alder grows into quite a fine tree, and if its
catkins be picked at Christmas and are brought into the warm house,
they soon blossom out and spread their green pollen over everything.
Rather a nice way of bringing a reminder of Spring into one's Winter
Birch and mountain ash grow happily up to 6,000 feet on sheltered
slopes but after 6,000 feet there are no deciduous trees, except the
tiny creeping willows buried deep under the snow.
Juniper is the most ubiquitous shrub to be found, it seems to me.
You get its various types at sea level in Italy and on the top of
mountains up to 8,000 feet when it pokes up through the snow beside
the Alpine Rose or _Rhododendron ferrugineum_.
On the top of ridges when the snow is blown away, all sorts of
treasures may be recognized. The creeping azalea with its wee
evergreen leaves, which no one, thinking of the garden azaleas at
home, would recognize as belonging to the same family. Little primulas
and saxifrages sheltering in cracks in the rocks, with nothing but
bunches of brown leaves to show them up. _Polygula Chamaebuxis_
or Bastard Box almost always in flower on a sunny patch even in
midwinter. On the lower slopes, gentians or anemone plants with their
buds waiting to open when the soft wind or rain of Spring calls to
them. _Erica carnea_ with its whitish buds waiting for Spring to
colour them, one of the earliest of the flowers. Or the seeds of
_Gentiana lutea_ or _asclepedia_ or _purpurea_ and of Aconite or
Monkshood on their strong stems standing high above the snow.
One winter when at 4,000 feet we had no snow at Christmas, we went
flower hunting instead of Ski-ing, and found thirty different sorts of
flowers out. But this was exceptional and by no means satisfying to
the Ski runner, who has come out for the sport he loves and not on
Later, when the snow begins to melt on South slopes in March, the mass
of purple and white crocuses open to the sun; nothing in the whole
world can equal the mass of these crocuses. They push up as the
miracle of Spring, impatiently thrusting through the snow, melting
holes for themselves. The soldanellas do the same, but not till late
in March, and with them come gentians and the whole glory of the
Alpine Spring has begun. By this time the Ski-er has to oil and put
away his Skis or climb to the glaciers and higher snow fields. A
wonderful experience alternating between Spring and Winter as he
changes his levels.
The only experience of Summer Ski-ing which I have had is on the
Jungfrau Joch, about 11,900 feet above the sea.
The Berner Oberland and Jungfrau Railways carry one up from Interlaken
to the Joch where there is an excellent new hotel, offering every
Good Ski-ing can be had on the glaciers and I am surprised that more
people do not come out for practice during the Summer.
The two great draw-backs to this Ski-ing are, firstly, the expense
and, secondly, the difficulty of breathing. The expense is unavoidable
because the carriage of building materials, food, etc. to such a
height must necessarily entail high prices. Glacier Ski-ing, except on
the snow-field near the Joch, also usually necessitates the employment
of Guides. But these snow-fields are so extensive and so safe that a
week could be spent in practising without a Guide.
After the first night on the Joch the feeling of breathlessness is
reduced, and so long as all climbing is done slowly no bad effects
need be expected by people in good health and condition. The Jungfrau
Joch can be reached from London in twenty-six hours, and keen runners
could enjoy a week or a fortnight of amusing Ski-ing on snow which
lends itself particularly well to the practice of all turns.
The Jungfrau Joch branch of the Swiss Ski Club holds an annual meet on
the Joch in the month of July, which is well attended by Runners and
Jumpers from all parts of Switzerland.
First-Class Guides and Ski Instructors can be found at the Joch.
People who would prefer not to sleep at so great a height could stay
at the Scheidegg or Eiger Gletscher, at both of which places hotels
In view of the shortness of Winter holidays, it seems a pity that
more enthusiasts do not profit by the chance of practising which the
Jungfrau Joch Railway offers in Summer time. I have twice spent two
days up there and have enjoyed them immensely. The snow was very
different to anything I ever met in Winter, but also very easy and
filled me with confidence. In July and August the crevasses show
clearly and need not inspire anxiety in anyone, except after a new
fall of snow, which may hide the smaller ones temporarily again.
There must be several square miles of perfectly safe Ski-ing on the
glaciers behind the Joch, which provide Nursery slopes just as good as
anything found in Winter. The gradients vary, but it is easy to find
stretches of 10 deg. to 30 deg. unbroken by crevasses.
Anyone coming out to ski on the glaciers in Summer time should bring
with them their own Skis or arrange to hire these at some Winter
Sports centre in the valleys. They should also be provided with all
the Ski-ing equipment they may need. A few pairs of Skis are kept for
hiring purposes on the Jungfrau Joch, but they are not very good ones
and it would be better not to depend on them.
REGULATIONS OF THE BRITISH SKI TESTS
AS APPROVED BY
THE FEDERAL COUNCIL OF BRITISH SKI CLUBS. 1923.
1. The British Standard Ski Tests have been drawn up by the Federal
Council of British Ski Clubs, hereinafter referred to as "The
Council." _The Council represents the following clubs, which are named
in the order of their foundation: The Davos Ski Club, the Ski Club of
Great Britain, the Alpine Ski Club, the British Ski Association, and
the Ladies' Ski Club_.
2. The British Standard Ski Tests are of two kinds: Cross Country
Ski-ing Tests and Jumping Tests. There are three Tests of each kind, a
First Class Test, a Second Class Test, and a Third Class Test.
3. The Tests are open to all ski-runners without payment, but
successful candidates will only receive a certificate and badge
if they are members or prospective members of one of the Clubs
represented on the Council. A candidate who has been proposed
and seconded for a constituent Club, and who has paid a year's
subscription, and whose election is pending, will be deemed a
prospective member for the purpose of this rule. The following sums
will be payable for the badges. These sums may be paid through the
members' Clubs or direct to the Hon. Secretary of the Council.
First Class Badge 35s.
Second Class Badge 3s.
Third Class Badge 2s.
4. In Switzerland francs will be accepted instead of shillings in
payment of badges.
5. Certificates and badges will be awarded to any person who has
passed the Cross Country Ski-ing Tests: First Class, a gold
badge; Second Class, a silver badge; Third Class, a bronze badge.
Certificates will be issued to those who have passed the corresponding
Jumping Tests, and these certificates will entitle the holder to
receive a Jumping badge when the Council authorizes the issue of new
6. Application for the badges, accompanied by a certificate signed by
two judges, shall be made either to the local representative of the
Club or to the Hon. Secretary of the Council, K.R. Swan, Esq., 1 Essex
Court, Temple, within three months of the passing of the Test.
7. Certificate holders will alone be recognized as having passed the
tests. _No certificate will be recognized as valid unless issued to
a member of one of the constituent clubs of the Council_. A list of
those certified as having passed any of the tests will be issued
periodically by the Council.
8. _Judges_.--No candidate can be judged for any test nor for any part
of a test unless two qualified Judges are present. No candidate can
be passed for any part of a test except by being judged formally and
knowing that he is being judged.
9. The Judges are appointed by the Council; the appointment is for
the season only. Judges and Emergency Judges must be of British
10. The Council also appoints an emergency committee, any one of whom
shall have the power to appoint temporary judges for the season only,
to act with a Judge elected by the Council. Such temporary judges
shall only be qualified to judge such tests as they have themselves
passed. The appointment of an Emergency Judge will not be recognized
by the Council unless the appointment is notified to the Secretary of
CROSS COUNTRY SKI-ING TESTS.
GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS TO JUDGES.
The following definitions may be taken as applying to the three tests:
_Stemming Turns_.--For the purpose of these Tests, Judges must insist
that candidates shall adopt that type of stemming turn known as the
"lifted stemming turn," that is to say, the stemming turn which is
finished by lifting round the inside ski.
_Telemarks_.--In the Telemark the back ski should drop behind, and the
bend of the back ski should not be ahead of the ankle of the leading
foot and should not be allowed to come forward till the turn is
completed. Candidates who start the turn with a mixture of ordinary
stemming should not be passed.
_Christianias_.--The Christiania may be done _either_ by separating
the points of the ski and completed by bringing them parallel--the
so-called "open Christiania"; _or_ by keeping the ski parallel
throughout and jerking them round, the "jerked Christiania"; _or_ by a
very slight stem, the ski being immediately brought parallel after the
turn has started, the so-called "Closed or Stem Christiania."
In every case the essence of the Christiania is that the swing should
be rapid, and that the preliminary stemming or diverging of the skis
should be as slight as possible.
A turn started by pronounced stemming and completed as a Christiania
should not be passed.
_Continuous Turns_ are sometimes known as "downhill turns." They are
used to connect one tack with another, and differ from stop or uphill
turns in that the turn is made away from the hill instead of up
towards the hill. Candidates must not stop between two continuous
_Hard Snow_.--For the purpose of these tests, any well-beaten down
practice slope from which all traces of soft snow have disappeared may
be considered as hard snow. Hard crust superficially softened by the
sun cannot be considered as hard snow.
_Soft Snow_.--For the purpose of these tests, a deep layer of powder
snow resting on hard crust, or hard crust superficially softened by
the sun, but not breakable, may be considered as soft snow.
_Form_.--The Judges must consider the "form" of the runner, as well as
his speed and steadiness. The distinguishing marks of good "form" are
an easy balance without dependence on the sticks (see below), an erect
position, except on steep slopes, and a narrow single spoor in soft
_Use of the Sticks_.--Candidates should carry sticks throughout these
tests, but the sticks should not be used to reduce speed nor to help
out a turn. On the other hand, a candidate may be allowed a prod with
a single stick at the end of a turn provided that he is carrying a
stick in each hand, or in the event of the candidate using a single
stick that this stick is only held in one of his hands. _He must not
put both his sticks together, nor hold a single stick in his two
hands, during any of these tests, unless expressly directed to do so
by the Judge_.
THE THIRD CLASS TEST (CROSS COUNTRY).
The Third Class Test consists of three parts, which may be passed on
different days, and before different Judges.
Part (a).--_The ascent of 1,500 feet in not more than 1 hour 30
minutes, and the descent of the same distance within a time which
shall be decided by the Judges. This time shall not be less than
7 minutes, nor more than 20 minutes, and shall not exceed 12
minutes unless sanctioned by a Second Class Judge or member of the
Emergency Committee who is present and judging_.
Part (b).--_Four continuous Lifted Stemming turns on a slope of hard
snow or hard snow covered by a shallow layer of soft snow. The angle
of the slope to be between 15-20 degrees_.
Part (c).--_Four continuous Telemarks in soft snow on a slope of
INSTRUCTIONS TO JUDGES.
1. The course selected for Part (a) should include at least 200 feet
of moderately difficult ground. Courses such as the Lauberhorn at
Wengen, which is an unbroken descent of 1,500 feet that a good runner
could take straight, should not be chosen. No part of the course
should be along a road.
2. Throughout the Test candidates must carry rucksacks, which should
weigh about six lbs. for men, and three lbs. for ladies. The ski must
not be removed during the test, except to clean or repair them.
3. The Judges should, if possible, appoint two time-keepers. During
the descent not more than six candidates must be judged in one batch.
4. Not more than three attempts at Part (b), and not more than three
attempts at Part (c) are allowed on the same day.
5. The attention of the Judges is directed to the General
Instructions. The gradient on which Third Class candidates are
expected to do their turns is gentle, as the intention is to secure
that candidates should master the proper methods, so as to be able
later to make real use of the turns on steep slopes. Judges are
therefore urged to insist that the stemming turns and Telemarks are
done correctly and in good style. Each turn should be short, well
defined, and not a mere change of direction.
QUALIFYING TEST FOR THE SECOND CLASS (CROSS COUNTRY).
No Candidate may enter for Parts (a), (b) and (c) of the Second Class
Test until he has passed the Qualifying Test, and no Candidate may
enter for the Qualifying Test until he has passed the Third Class
The Qualifying Test consists of three parts, which may be passed on
different days and before different judges, but which must all be
passed in the same season.
Part (a).--_Four continuous Lifted Stemming turns on a slope of hard
snow at an angle of 25-30 degrees_.
Part (b).--_Four continuous Telemark turns on a slope of soft snow at
an angle of 25-30 degrees_.
Part (c).--_Christiania swings to a standstill (right and left) from a
direct descent at a fair speed_.
INSTRUCTIONS TO JUDGES.
1. Not more than three attempts at any one part should be allowed on
the same day.
2. The Christianias should be done on the level or on a gentle slope
after a descent from a steep slope, as a stop Christiania is more
difficult on the level than on the slope.
3. The Judges must require a considerably higher standard of
steadiness and certainty than in the Third Class Test. The object of
the Third Class Test is to ensure that candidates learn the correct
methods of making the turns. The object of the Second Class Test is
to ensure that candidates can make practical use of these turns on
moderately steep slopes.
THE SECOND CLASS TEST (CROSS COUNTRY).
The Second Class Test consists of three parts, which must all be
passed in the same season, and should, if possible, be judged by the
Part (a).--_A descent of not less than 2,500 feet, mainly on soft
snow. The course selected should provide opportunities for straight
running on reasonably steep slopes_.
Part (b).--_A descent of not less than 1,000 feet on hard snow, such
as unbreakable crust or snow which has been thoroughly beaten down_.
Part (c).--_A descent of at least 500 feet of woodrunning, dense
enough to prevent straight running, but not too dense to prevent
1. A Second Class runner may be defined as a runner who can run at
a good speed on hard or soft snow of unvarying quality, and who
is, above all, thoroughly steady on his turns. A runner who runs
recklessly without judgment, and who shows little power of selecting
a safe line, should not be passed even if he takes slopes straight at
the expense of frequent falls. _The Second Class Test is, in the main,
a test of steady controlled ski-ing at a good, but not at a racing
2. Candidates must not use their sticks to control speed nor to help
out a turn except under very exceptional circumstances and with the
express permission of the Judges. The Judges must, however, satisfy
themselves that the Candidates understand the use of the stick, and
could, in emergencies, where speed is vital, increase their speed and
steadiness on difficult snow by the use of the stick.
QUALIFYING TEST FOR THE FIRST CLASS (CROSS COUNTRY).
No candidate may enter for Parts (a), (b) and (c) of the First Class
Test until he has passed the Qualifying Test that entitles him to be
judged for the First Class Test, and no candidate may enter for this
Qualifying Test until he has passed the Second Class Test.
The Qualifying Test consists of five parts, which may be judged on
different days and before different Judges, but which must all be
passed in the same season.
Part (a).--_Four continuous lifted Stemming turns on a slope of hard
snow at an angle of not less than 30 degrees_.
Part (b).--_Four continuous Telemark turns on a slope of soft snow at
an angle of not less than 30_.
Part (c).--_Four consecutive jump-turns to connect downhill tacks on a
slope of breakable crust at an angle of about 30 degrees_.
Part (d).--_Christiania swings to a standstill (right and left) from a
direct descent at a very high speed_.
Part (e).--_Four continuous Christiania (see General Instructions) on
a slope of about 20 degrees_.
INSTRUCTIONS TO JUDGES.
1. The turns must be done round sticks or flags placed by the Judges.
2. Not more than three attempts at any one part are allowed on the
3. Soft breakable crust will usually be found on slopes with a
southerly exposure just after the sun has struck them or just before
the sun leaves them.
FIRST CLASS TEST (CROSS COUNTRY SKI-ING).
The First Class Test consists of three parts, which must all be passed
in the same season and should, if possible, be passed by the same
Judges. If this is impracticable, Judges must indicate on the Test
forms which parts they have judged. Not more than two parts shall be
judged on the same day.
Part (a).--_A descent of not less than 2,500 feet, which should, if
possible, be continuous without any intervening stretches of level or
uphill. The course selected must provide ample opportunity for fast,
straight running, and must also include a fair proportion of steep and
Part (b).--_A descent of not less than 1,000 feet on really
difficult snow, such as hard, wind-swept, unbreakable crust, on which
Lifted Stemming turns are practicable but Telemarks impossible, varied
by breakable crust in which only Jump turns are practicable_.
Part (c).--_A descent of not less than 500 feet of difficult
woodrunning in which continuous turns are just possible for a
The above represents a minimum, rather than a maximum. If Judges can
devote sufficient time to the Test, each section may well be repeated
on different days in order that the Judges may have ample opportunity
of coming to a decision.
For a descent of about 500 feet, the candidate should lead in order
to test his capacity for choosing a good line. During the rest of the
Test one of the Judges must lead and must set a first-class speed. The
other Judge must remain behind the candidate in order to compare his
speed and steadiness with that of the leading Judge.
A First Class runner turns as little as possible and slows up as
little as possible before each turn. His turns are done at a high
speed on all but very steep ground.
_The candidate must satisfy the Judges that his running combines high
speed, thorough steadiness on difficult ground and difficult snow, and
an easy, effortless control of his ski_.
1. The length of a jump shall be measured with a taut tape from the
edge of the take-off to that point at which the hindermost ski touches
the alighting track with the part immediately below the binding.
2. To constitute a standing jump the runner must not fall within
a distance of 40 metres from the edge of the take-off or within a
distance of 60 metres where the jump, as in the First Class Test,
exceeds 30 metres. If the runner comes to a standstill without falling
within this distance he will be held to have stood.
3. If a runner saves himself from falling by supporting himself with
his hands, he shall be considered to have fallen.
THIRD CLASS TEST (JUMPING).
1. Every Candidate is required to make two standing jumps of not less
than 10 metres. Four attempts are allowed on the same day.
2. Any two Judges appointed by the Council for the Cross Country
Ski-ing Tests are qualified to judge this Test.
SECOND CLASS TEST (JUMPING).
1. Every Candidate is required to make two standing jumps of not less
than 20 metres. Four attempts are allowed on any one day.
2. Any two Second Class Judges appointed by the Federal Council for
Cross Country Ski-ing Tests may judge this Test. Any Candidate who has
passed this Test may replace one of the Second Class Judges.
FIRST CLASS TEST (JUMPING).
1. Every Candidate is required to make two standing jumps of not less
than 30 metres. Four attempts are allowed on any one day.
2. Two Second Class Judges appointed by the Federal Council for Cross
Country Ski-ing may judge this Test. Any Candidate who has passed the
Second Class Jumping Test may act in place of one of the Second Class
Alpine Club Huts
Attractions of Ski-ing
Care of Equipment
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