For Day 2, I drove an hour south to Savognin (SAH VOHN YEN), which is in a part of Switzerland where the fourth official language of the country, Romanisch, is spoken by approximately 36,000 people. Moreover, to add to the complexity, there are apparently five variations of Romanisch. According to Wikipedia, it's a "descendant of spoken Latin languages of the Roman Empire and has also been strongly influenced by German in vocabulary." You often see it in signage alongside German, for example in the greeting at the entrance to the ski area ("Bavegna"):
Or by itself on a construction sign. You can see elements of Italian and German:
Here's something you don't see very often in Switzerland, free parking at a ski area:
They usually charge $5 per car and not exactly for the reason you expect. In the U.S., free parking at a ski area is considered an entitlement because we're already paying a lot for lift tickets and the only places that charge for parking (e.g. Vail) are doing it to be greedy or they make you take a long, crowded bus ride from a free satellite lot. As I understand it: in Switzerland, with public parking lots owned by the municipalities rather than the ski areas and buses or trains operating virtually everywhere, they don't feel that people taking public transport should subsidise free parking for those arriving in cars. Makes sense.
At the lift ticket counter -- I like these old-school circular ski racks:
A clever advertisement that I saw a year ago in this region: "Trends change; good taste remains"
Savognin is considered a small ski area around here; however, it's a full three miles across and including the valley runs the T2B vertical is 5,000 feet. That said; the true ski area is the upper 3,600 verts and it's vast.
Skier's right from the sub-summit -- there were occasional sunny breaks, but it was a shame that the high clouds never completely dissipated. Still, visibility was fine:
Looking up at the peak on far skier's right, you can see the T-bar that serves this sector. There's so much extensive terrain beyond the perimeter that if they wanted to, the ski area could be significantly expanded.
A warm-up run on a groomer:
Then some tracked-up offpiste that skied well:
Leading to a big field of lightly tracked further down -- that was the SOP the entire day and it was midwinter soft:
There are three old t-bars that serve the upper mountain:
Here's something I've only seen previously in France -- a surface lift with a 90-degree turn. The sign says "Curve: letting go of the t-bar is forbidden!"
On the far skier's right, you take two separate drag lifts up 3,000 vertical feet, which takes a lot out of your things after a few runs. Still, better than walking. Here's the top of the lower one; the word "Crap" in Romanisch means rock or boulder:
Heading in for lunch -- plenty of elbow room for a Saturday:
You know you're in Switzerland when you see a lot of these skis:
A pauper's lunch (barley soup and a weissbeer) to save room for the large economy-sized strudel.
Plenty for two people but I manned up and finished it:
Looking over this entrance before dropping in:
Reverse shot: a beautiful line through those rocks/the snow was perfect:
Mid-afternoon coffee break here:
By 3:30, I headed down the entire 5,000 verts to the valley. Below mid-mountain, the snow turned into silky spring sugar:
Then quasi corn and finally spring mush toward the bottom.
In short: a great day that would've only been better with clear skies like in this TR
. Savognin would be a Top 10 for most regions in the U.S. Here, it's just another ski area that people outside an hour's radius have never heard of.