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Dropbear
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Hi all,

Does anyone have any ideas or kiting contacts for the kiting scene in Europe?

I've got a job in the Swiss alps from early December till early March, and I'll do some local travelling a few days before this and some wider travelling for several weeks afterwards.

What I'd be interested in finding more about:

- The snowkiting scene in Switzerland - is there one?

- Whether 1-10 December is too early or not for snowkiting in the Swiss alps or neighbouring alpine countries?

- Is snowkiting still possible in the Scandinavian mountains after 20 March?

- The buggying scene in Denmark after March

- The buggying scene in the UK from after March

- Is there any buggying to be had in France or Italy?

Whatever musings people have on these ideas would be appreciated :)

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I was in Denmark last year and went to Rømø on the west coast.

It was kite buggy Mecca! A truely awesome place.

Check out my posts from back then, here http://www.extremekites.com.au/forums/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=13399&start=20

If you get there, I'd suggest you look up Ute Nissen and Volker who live on the island. They are fantastic welcoming people who, if you contact them may be able to give you some useful tips about the best times to kite there.

OBEwan

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I'll be pretty much in the middle of the Swiss Alps, about halfway between Bern and Zermatt. Or for anyone who knows the country, I'll be at Kandersteg, which is on the train line between Thun and Brig. Near Interlaken.

My interest in going to Denmark is 'cos I've been there before and loved it - I did a uni exchange to Copenhagen. I would have liked to pick up more of the language, it was hard. I have a mate I'd especially like to visit in Århus.

I wasn't a kiter back then but I can see how Denmark would be perfect for it ;)

The pics of Rømø look good. Bugging at a place like that would be far more appealing than a similar place in the UK simply 'cos it's Denmark and Denmark is awesome :) Last time I got as far over as Ribe (and Esbjerg) so it'd be cool to go that little bit further off the coast. I also didn't get any further north of Århus, which is a pity 'cos I like the idea of seeing Skagen.

If I did make it up there it'd be springtime, I don't know when yet. I have just bought a one-way ticket to Zurich partly 'cos I don't know exactly what the plan is for travelling afterwards. I should know more after a week with the people in Switzerland. But thanks, I'd love to be shown around some of Denmark and see the place from a local's point of view :)

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Interlaken is nice :D infact,the whole country is :D

When u train through luzern,grab a train time for the engelberg line - well worth it& youll have to transfer there before going through Bern from memory. i havnt done the southern side of the alps,but theres plenty of kiteable spots north of. If only i was kiting then too.. :o

Highly recommend not hanging in the major touristy spots,as i feel theres more to experience outside of these places.

If you get to the end of a train line,ur prob in the right spot :drinks:

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Yeah it's a beautiful country. Last time I was there I bought a pass and tripped around most of the country on the trains. Hopefully this time I'll be able to be a bit more selective.

Been looking at the Swiss Snowkiting School (http://www.snowkiting.ch/), it's saying that there's good kiting in the Simplon (south of Brig) and Grimsel (NW of Brig up the valley) Passes, though my first thought is I'd prefer to meet the snowkiting community more than just the kiting school...

Still, I'm getting into Switzerland 10 days before the job starts, so hopefully I can get some snowkiting happening then.

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Years ago I spent some time the Alps, on the Austrian-Italian border. I had no idea of kiting then. I do remember that the smaller roads are more scenic (and cheaper) than the busy toll ways. Often you can get good accommodation in the small local villages at their equivalent of what we call a B&B, you get to have breakie with the locals and get to know the local info that could be handy. Sorry I traveled by a rent a car, so don't know how easy or hard it is to get to these places by train. My uncle was a Mountaineering Guide so he knew all the good and cheap places to go to. One day I'll make it back there ............ with a kite next time round.

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Well according to the mob I linked above, the two passes they like (both close to or on the Swiss - Italian border) work in both north and south winds. So I suppose in theory, anywhere along that border range where the terrain is suitable for kiting, you've got a kite spot.

I'm struggling to find a online presence for a Swiss kiting community though :(

And I saw it mentioned that Zermatt could be kited. Has anyone heard of anything along those lines?

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"Snowkitingspots Zentralschweiz:

Andermatt (Zonenplan, download Pdf)

Gotthard (mehr Infos unter www.drachensegler.ch)

Grimsel

Beromünster

Napf

Raten

Euthal"

http://www.kitefun.ch/downloads/zonenplan_andermatt.PDF

All those spots are mostly on the eastern side of switzerland, or minimum 4 hours train type! Arrhh, mountains between towns :fool::D

http://www.unhooked.ch might offer some insite

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Cheers gcdave :)

Yeah unhooked.ch is an excellent resource, the "kitespots" section has lots of info. As has been pointed out to me, it's currently set to show summer locations (I never expected such a mountainous country to have a kitesurfing scene like they do), but at the bottom of the page is a link to the winter spots section.

And guess what? Apparently there's a decent spot on a frozen lake ("Daubensee"), a gondola ride away from the town I'll be staying in. How cool is that? There's another good spot (the Simplon Pass I mentioned earlier) a train and bus ride away to the south. Yee :) At that spot there's a hotel (and a road open all winter) literally beside the kite spot, but annoyingly I'm told the hotel doesn't open until Christmas :( There's also a big stone statue of an eagle out in the ranges there somewhere. I gotta see that.

The Swiss kiting community I've been looking for appears to be at http://forum.kitesailingworld.ch/index.php.

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Hey mate

The spots I know of in switzerland are Simplonpass, La Thuile, on the lake at St Moritz, Bernina Pass. I think the reason you are having trouble finding out info about the local guys is that there are not too many of them!

I have not heard of anyone kiting at Zermatt but it is such a great ski area, don't worry about kiting when you are there... I wouln't take kites at all.

Simplonpass has a lot of small hills when i was there in a bad season it doesn't look so great but I can imagine it would be pretty good with a lot of snow. Don't count on it being kiteable without a couple of metres at least. The road is excellent getting up into there, one of the best mountain pass roads. Don't know about the bus but an easy train to Brig.

There is a spot at the top of La Thuile (IT) / La Rosiere (FR) but i think it is a pretty small area.

The lake at St Moritz is flat and hard but you can ride downhill in the morning and then kite in the afternoon once the wind has come up. You can watch the early kiters struggling on the lake from the Corvatsch gondola and get a few more runs in until you see them a bit more powered up.

Norway is the go though if you are going to be there in March. If you get a DNT membership you can stay at mountain lodges fully catered for cheap and have a great time. Easter is prime time for ski touring in those mountains, normally heaps of snow at easter so no worries in march. Days would be quite short earlier in the year.

Hope this helps, let me know if you need more detailed info.

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Cheers for that info, that's great.

*Goes and notes down some more kiting spots...

Not too many snowkiters eh? Sounds familiar. But at the same time if every man and his dog was flying kites it wouldn't be so special. A mate of mine who paraglides was telling me that they have a easy time travelling as paragliders everywhere are very welcoming. From what I've seen so far, kiters are the same, but then I've not kited overseas yet. But if kiting (or paragliding) was as popular as surfing say then we wouldn't have as much in common with others overseas who do it...

As for Zermatt, I've been told it's not ideal. But like you say it's a great place to ski so that's no bother.

When were you there? What did you do for transport and accommodation?

Apparently you can get a post bus up to the Simplon with SBB for CHF6.60! (I never cease to be amazed by the quality of the public transport in Switzerland).

Thanks for the tip about the DNT in Norway - it's the first I've heard about it and it looks a pretty neat setup. Gosh those Scandinavians (and Europeans too) are way ahead of us with these things...

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I'm Swiss having lived most of my life in Bern but am a citizen of Attalens in Canton Fribourg.

I have been living many years in the UAE (Dubai) and am into the kitebuggy scene here.

There are some kite buggiers in Thun (also in canton Bern & gateway to the Bernese Oberland) that I have been in touch with but they have very limited possibilities especially compared to here in the UAE.

I always go home in summer but on the odd occasion when I have been home in winter I have kite skiied in my Fribourg fields.

However, you can kite ski pretty much all year around on the Plaine Morte glacier, which is also in the canton Bern. If you don't want to hike up to the glacier, you can get there from Crans Montana cable car, which is in canton Valais. You can take the train from Kandesteg that is just on the northern side of the Lötschberg tunnel into the Valais.

I have never been on that cable car preferring to hike up from the Bernese side.

I once made a 4 day ski tour from Lenk, Iffigenalp, Wildhorn hut, Wildstrubel . From the Wildstrubel hut across the Plaine Morte climbing the Wildstrubel & down to the Lämmeren hut. From there I climbed the Rote Totz and skiied down to Kandesteg via the Ueschinentelli glacier.

Above Kandesteg is the Blümlisalp glacier that you could possibly kite ski on. Years ago in my mountaineering days back home we would hike up to the Blümlisalp hut & from there do the travers of the three prominent peaks (Morgenhorn, Weisse Frau & Blümlisalphorn).

If you do decide to try kite skiing on Blümlisalp glacier, be careful in winter & spring due to some of that area being avalanche prone. (Avalanche warnings are always given out on the local radio) Additionally, that glacier does have some hidden crevasses (not bad) that you need to be aware of.

The locals in Kandesteg will be able to help you out. How is your German?

Enjoy yourself.

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Cheers for all that info Sand-Yeti :) It's awesome to hear about the Plaine Morte and Blümlisalp glaciers being other close options, though I'd be sure look for some local guidance before trying out these places.

Mine Deutsch is nicht sehr gut - more like appalling actually - much of my German learnt in school has been lost sadly. The place where I'm staying has people from all over the place working and staying there so English is the main language. So while I'm hoping to learn as much Swiss German as I can, I fear I'll have limited opportunities to converse in it.

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The Plaine Morte will probably be your best bet as it is a very wide flattish high alpine plain always covered with snow & ice & a relatively safer place than other glaciers.

Plaine morte is French as it is close to the lower part of the Valais compared to the upper part, which is German speaking although I can hardly understand the people there & I come from the northern side of the Bernese Oberland.

I always think of the Plaine Morte translated into German or English as the Death Plain but probably a better translation would be Dead Flatland that doesn't sound so intimidating.

I sometimes ask the Ober Valaiser to speak a high German when I'm there to be able to understand them. Some old people can't even manage that. All Swiss Germans speak high German because that how we are taught in school and normally we read in high German (newspapers, books etc). There is a written Swiss-German but its more of a phonetic guess by many of the people who write it. I never try & write it. I speak Bern Deutsch from the city of Bern but once I get into the Bernese Oberland like Kandesteg, Grindelwald & other places you may have heard of, they have a different accent. You will pick up some Swiss German words but if you are there for just a short period, concentrate on the high German that everybody speaks.

The French Swiss like my Mrs born in Geneva hates Swiss-German that is very much different from German, so much so that the Germans particularly from the North can't understand us.

My Mrs tells everyone that Swiss German is not a language but a throat disease. She speaks more languages than me including German but makes no attempt at speaking Swiss German.

she understands me when I speak Bern-Deutsch but that's probably because she's used to my voice.

I like Kandesteg but because it sits deep at the end of the Kander valley, a lot of it is in the shadow out of the sun. Kandesteg Is famous for me because it has the last railway station before going into the Lötschberg tunnel. It exits in Goppenstein on the south and indeed sunny side of the Valais.

Well enough about some of the places in Canton Bern, that to be honest I miss very much at times.

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Wow that's hugely informative.

I had picked up on that likely translation for Plaine Morte but I spose I didn't really think too much about it beyond that. But it does sound like a good option if the snows don't arrive early enough for me to kite on the Daubensee or the Simplon Pass. I don't think the Plaine Morte is listed on unhooked.ch, what winds does it like, the north or south fohns like the other spots? And what's the way to get up there from the north, catch the train to Lenk and walk the rest, or is there an easier way? From the south, does the Crans Montana cable car get you all the way to the kite spot?

I'll take your advice to focus on high German. I knew Swiss-German was distinct to German but not that it wasn't a complete language with an accepted written form and all... I have also head of school-educated German speakers (like exchange students) who've visited places like Switzerland and Austria and found the language to be completely different to their textbook education. And if a native born Swiss like you has had problems communicating with Ober Valaisers then that counts for double!

It's nice that you've got nice things to say about Kandersteg. I have caught the train through there before - on that trip I went from Zermatt to Bern via Brig of course. That was in 2007 - I was in Switzerland for a week so I bought a Swiss Pass and spent most days on the trains trying to cover as much of the country as possible. Unfortunately I didn't know much about the Scout chalet at that time so I didn't stop there.

It sounds like an ideal place for a traveller in that you can go both ways on the train, and yet at the same time it should be peaceful 'cos there's no road tunnel through to the Valais side. Though it sounds like I'll miss the sun badly. I didn't realise it would be so shadowy in winter down there, but it makes sense when the mountains are on the south side... I already knew I'd miss the Aussie summer big time - I've been spending most days at the beach (it's my job!) - but to go to the shadowy end of a Swiss valley will probably be extra tough.

Anyway all the pictures I've seen of the place look very beautiful. I could very well understand you missing it, like I know I'll miss Australia.

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I have only been on the Plaine Morte on skis & never with a kite & therefore can't tell you much about the winds there.

However, found a little bit of vid. showing someone kite skiing on the Plaine Morte (not too exciting though)

http://www.zapiks.com/snow-kite-plain-morte-16-04-.html

The Föhn is always a wet, warm wind usually blowing from the south. Many Swiss hate it because they complain it gives them a headache or aches in their joints etc.

We call the north wind, the 'Bise' (Pronouced like English 'Bees'), which is normally a very cold dry wind. It's often there when the sky is clear and much more preferred by all the Swiss compared to the Föhn.

Yes, there is cable car from Crans-Monatn to the Plaine Morte. From Lenkit will take you most of the day to walk up to the Plaine Morte. That's OK if you plan staying overnight in a Swiss Alpine Club hut. Many of these huts are not all manned in winter.

I miss a lot of places in the World that I have visited including Oz. I have been several times to your country even in your Snowy mountains but it is somewhat different to Switzerland. I had a 2+ year stint there in my younger years.

How did you like Zermat? I spent quite some time there on a couple of projects for my old company with the head office in Bern. I was a development design engineer for mountain transport mainly working on cable car projects.

I climbed a few 4000ers above Zermat including of course the Matternorn. It's a nice hill that the Swiss confectioners like to paint on their chocolate boxes.

There is no road through the Lötschberg tunnel but it is carrying cars on rail wagons extensively all the time through it, so you will see traffic either side of the tunnel.

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Ok, cheers, that's pretty clear info Sand-Yeti. So for the Plaine Morte, day trips would be possible on the cable car from the Valais side but not from Lenk.

Good idea about the Swiss Alpine Club huts. http://www.sac-cas.ch. It looks nice and cheap too!

The Wildstrubelhütte http://www.sac-cas.ch/index.php?id=416&L=3 looks the closest to the glacier. They've got a topo map on the website which is quite helpful, and it shows the glacier is open to the north, but probably closed to the south. I'll try and get in touch with them.

Anyway thanks to the SAC site I now have topo maps of the Plaine Morte, Daubensee, Simplon Pass, and Kandersteg too :)

It's nice to think that the Swiss are so used to the weather patterns of their alpine home that they even give names and attribute personalities to the winds. I was previously heard of the winds being referred to as the north and south Föhns, and I had heard about complaints about headaches and such being attributed to them. It seems amusing. The Bise is news to me, but it makes sense that it is differentiated from the Föhn. It also makes sense as north wind = cold and fine weather = high pressure system dominates(?) whereas south wind = wet and warm wind, hopefully with snow but probably with poor visability = low pressure system dominates(?).

I loved Zermatt. I was originally intending to spend just the one day there (2 nights), but that day (in early Dec) it was snowying heavily (and windy as buggery) so I spent the day walking around town and up the hillsides taking pics. I stayed another day so I could spend a day on the slopes, and had an awesome day snowboarding with an Aussie and a Brit from the quaint but shambolic hostel I was staying at. Suprisingly we were getting fresh tracks all day as we found an off piste spot where nobody else was going. And it was amazing catching lifts and having the Matterhorn *right there* like you could reach out and touch it. Anyways after that I had to rush off as I only had a few days left in Switzerland before I met up with a friend in Berlin.

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Tried again this morning to get the pics on. Reference my below post. There are a couple missing but will try adding them later.

My Mrs by the bus we took from Lenk to Betelboden where we started up the hill on our skis.

79001Betelboden.jpg

Fixing the furs on the skis to start the uphill slog. That’s Fred & Brig

79017.jpg

Brig at the Wildstrubelhütte. That hut has been seriously modified since that pic was taken.

79021Wildstrubelhut.jpg

The Plaine morte

79023PlaineMorte.jpg

A larger party in front of us ascending the Wildstrubel

79029climbingWildstrubel.jpg

Ascending the Roter Totz

79030.jpg

Brig & I on the summit of the Roter Totz. From here it was all downhill to Kandersteg

79060Summit.jpg

We were pretty knackered waiting for the train in Kandersteg Station. I'd left my car in Spiez 4 days earlier & had to get back to it so I could drop Fred off in Bern and then drive back to Geneva.

79066Kandersteg.jpg

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