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Title: Ski-running
Author: Furse, Katharine Symonds, 1875-1952
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's note: The spelling and punctuation inconsistencies of the
original have been retained in this etext.]




G.B.E., R.R.C.




So many excellent books have been written about Ski-ing that it is,
perhaps, presumptuous on my part to think that there is room for

Mr. Vivien Caulfeild in his "How to Ski" and "Ski-ing Turns," as well
as Mr. Arnold Lunn in his "Ski-ing for Beginners," "Cross Country
Ski-ing" and "Alpine Ski-ing," have covered all the ground of
the technique discovered up to date. What future discoveries and
inventions may be made, requiring new books, no one knows as yet.

Had it not been for the help and coaching these two exponents of
Ski-ing have given to me personally, I should never have been able to
enjoy the sport to the extent I do now, because I should probably have
been content to continue running across country, falling whenever I
wanted to stop, and using a kick turn at the end of my traverses.
Their enthusiasm and example gave me new ideas of the standard I
wanted to attain, and their unfailing kindness and advice helped me to
get nearer to it than I could otherwise have done.

The standard still lies away up out of reach, as age undoubtedly tells
against the Ski-runner, and the perfect Christiania in deep, soft snow
round trees growing close together on a steep slope must be done in
heaven rather than on earth by people who are nearer fifty than forty.

Much experience of coaching beginners convinces me that there is still
room for a book such as I hope to make this--a book containing only
the simple answers to questions put to me during the last three years,
when I have been responsible for running the Ski-ing in various
centres. The object of such coaching is to raise the standard of
British Ski-ing, and it is satisfactory to realize that other nations,
including the Swiss, already marvel at the fair average of our
runners. This is specially remarkable when it is remembered that most
British runners can only afford a bare fortnight or three weeks'
winter holiday in the Alps, and that they are not always in training
when they arrive. Ski-ing is a sport which exercises every nerve and
muscle as well as lungs, as is soon discovered during the first 100
feet climb or the first fall in deep snow on the Nursery slopes.

In addition to my conviction that there is room for another book
for beginners, my love of the Alps, which have been my home for the
greater part of my life, also induces me to try to show something of
the real objects of Ski-ing; namely getting to the silent places which
can only be reached on skis, realizing something of the strength
and immensity of Nature at her grimmest, profiting by the wonderful
atmosphere of the mountains, to say nothing of the beauty of an Alpine
view on a fine day.

The greatest pity is that most British winter holiday-makers can only
go out for Christmas. This is admittedly the worst time from the
point of view of weather. At low altitudes rain often falls early
in January, turning the snow into slush and reducing the Ski-er to
despair. After the 15th January, the weather is usually better, and in
February the days are longer and finer. The best time of all for an
Alpine holiday is usually February and early March. My advice to
novices, who are not tied by Christmas holidays, is to come out about
the 20th January, when the hotels are less crowded, the days longer,
the snow more certain and all the conditions more favourable. Some of
my own best Ski-ing days have been late in March when the crocuses and
gentians were already opening to the sun on the Southern slopes, and a
soldanella might be found along some tiny stream. Few experiences can
equal a Spring day among the Alps when the wealth of flowers begins
to show in the valleys, while masses of good snow still lie on the
Northern slopes or on the ridges above 6,000 feet.

Early starts are necessary these days as the sun blazes after 11 a.m.,
but nothing can equal the bodily comfort and well-being enjoyed at
midday, lunching at the top of some peak or pass, basking in the blaze
and imagining the run down cool slopes. No Ski-runner, who has not
been out in late February or March, realizes the joy and comfort of
late Ski-ing. The hotels will remain open as long as clients stay to
make it worth while, and all the mid-winter amenities will be kept up
if they are wanted.

In recommending places and equipment, I intend boldly to confine
myself to the places I have been to and to the equipment I have used,
or of which I have had reports from people I trust. This is a somewhat
risky determination as there is great competition among the various
centres and business firms which cater for Ski-runners. My reason is
that the endless advertisements must be extremely confusing to the
novice, who does not know what to believe, and who may sometimes be
let down by a glowing description of some place or gear, which proves
to be quite unsuitable.

The old hands will find nothing new in this book. Not even controversy
about the nomenclature of turns or as to which foot should carry the
weight in a Christiania. My own view of Ski-ing turns is that they
are a means to an end, and not an end in themselves, and that the
Ski-runner, who is content to spend weeks on the Nursery slopes,
perfecting one turn, has wasted almost weeks, when he might be
enjoying what Skis enable one to reach among the mountains above. At
the same time every beginner should be content to devote two or three
of his first days to the Nursery slopes, learning the elements of good
Ski-ing before dashing off on an excursion. As I know from painful
experience, there is much to unlearn in what one has picked up by the
light of Nature. Scrambling down a run, crashing and sitting on one's
Skis, may be great fun the first day, but is tiring and humiliating
as time goes on. It is infinitely preferable to learn the knack of
Ski-ing tidily, and thereby keeping dry and, in a few days, running
well enough thoroughly to enjoy a day out with its slow climb to the
top of some peak or pass, and then the slide down under control.

This is where tests are so valuable. Most people undoubtedly enjoy
competition and, if the passing of the turns is made a necessary
qualification for the timed run of the 3rd class test, most beginners
will determine to learn them and then to try the Run and, having
successfully passed that, wear a Badge. Badge-hunting, like
pot-hunting, may not be a very worthy object in itself, but if it
encourages people to become proficient in a beautiful sport, let us
give our weakness of character free play and achieve the results it
leads to. The tests of the Federated Ski Clubs of Great Britain have
done more to raise the standard of our running than anything else

The beginner is wise, who chooses a centre where the Ski-ing is well
organized, and where he can be certain of getting coaching as well as
excursions suited to his standard, as nothing is lonelier than going
to a place where he is dependent on his own initiative; neither is
anything more irksome to the good runner than to be asked to admit a
stranger to his party, who may keep him back and spoil his run. This
will be further alluded to in the Chapter on Etiquette, and if a
beginner wishes to be popular, I advise him strongly to adhere to
the "Law." A strict code has been adopted, mainly as a result of the
suffering from pertinacious runners, who put their standard higher
than is admitted by others.

Where the Ski-ing is organized, tests sort different individuals into
their different standards and Runs are planned accordingly, so that
the novice is not over-strained and the experienced runner is not
hindered by too big a party.

The beginner should also choose a centre where there is a railway to
help him. A great deal of precious time and energy may be wasted in a
short holiday when all climbing has to be done on skis. The first runs
are tiring enough without the additional fatigue of climbing, and
going up in a funicular or railway opens up numbers of runs which
would be far too energetic for most people who are not in training.























From photographs by E. Gyger, Adelboden, Switzerland








Very little is known of the early history of Ski-ing. Doctor Henry
Hoek in his book "Der Schi" gives a very interesting chapter tracing
the use of Skis back to the earliest records. He thinks that Skis were
used by Central Asian races thousands of years B.C. and long before
they were used in Europe. According to his book the word "Schi" is
derived from the Gothic "Skaidan," the German "Scheiden," Latin
"Scindere," and so on. All these words mean split or divide, and might
be used to describe the split wood of which Skis are made or their
action in dividing or separating the snow through which they pass.

Doctor Hoek further says that early records show how Ski-ing was a
sport practised by knights, and he quotes Rognwald of Orkney (1159
A.D.) who states that he could run on Skis.

The Swedish Bishop Magnus writes in 1533 of the way in which the
Norwegians used Skis for traversing country when hunting.

During the Swedish and Norwegian war in 1808 the Norwegian Army
included 2,000 Ski runners, but the use of Skis does not seem to have
come into warfare again until the Great War of 1914-1918, when the
Swiss, Austrians and Italians all used them on the Alpine frontiers.

The modern and fully recorded use of Skis began about 1843 when the
sport became really popular in Norway and a Ski race was run at
Tromso. In 1861 a Ski Club was founded, and in 1863 an exhibition was
held there.

The Swedes also took up Ski-ing as a sport at about this time but Skis
do not seem to have penetrated into Central Europe until after 1870
when a French doctor tried them at Chamounix in 1871.

The first introduction of Skis into Switzerland, which I have been
able to trace, was by the monks of St. Bernard, who obtained some
pairs from Norway in 1883, thinking that they might be useful in their
work of mercy, rescuing pedestrians who were in difficulties on the
Pass. About 1887 Colonel Napier came to Davos bringing with him a
Norwegian man-servant and a pair of Skis. Mythical tales were told of
the way this man slid down the slopes from châlet to hotel, carrying a
tea tray on his shoulder. I have only a vague recollection of seeing
him perform, but when Colonel Napier left Davos the same year, he gave
the Skis to me to play with. They were very similar to modern Skis but
had a rigid binding made of sealskin with no means of tightening or
loosening it. Not knowing better, I used to try to run in gouties or
rubber snow-boots which slipped about inside the binding so that I had
absolutely no control. This did not make much difference, as I knew
nothing of the art and only used the Skis as a freak on days off from
tobogganing. I knew nothing of wax, and when the Skis stuck, they
stuck, and I thought it a poor game. When they slid I sat down and
I thought it a poorer game. It never entered my head that I could
traverse across any slope and so I always went straight down and only
by a fluke did I ever stand. Then Tobias Branger, who was a great
sportsman and kept a sports shop at Davos, imported several pairs of
Skis and practised the art himself.

About this time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Dobson
took up the game and we spent many hours practising on the slopes
behind Davos Dorf.

The Richardson brothers, who had been to Norway, came to Davos about
1893 bringing with them knowledge of the sport and soon gathered round
them a keen lot of disciples. The Davos English Ski Club was formed
and from now on Ski-ing spread rapidly throughout Switzerland.

In the meantime, Ski Clubs were also being formed in the Black Forest
and other parts of Germany, as well as in Austria.

Doctor Nansen, in his book about Greenland, described the use of Skis
for Arctic exploration and his accounts fired a great many more people
to try the game.

I advise anyone who wishes to know more of the development of Ski
running to read Doctor Hoek's book "Der Schi," published in 1922, as
he gives a long account of the first forming of Clubs as well as the
gradual adoption of Skis as a means to winter climbing, and, further,
a useful list of the literature on the subject.

After the first beginnings in 1899, the Swiss became energetic and
enthusiastic runners. The children could be seen on barrel staves with
a pair of old boots nailed to the centre into which they slipped their
feet with their own boots on. It was not a particularly graceful game
in those days. Runners armed themselves with poles some 8 feet long on
which they leant heavily when running downhill. This school soon gave
way to the more modern school, which proved that the carrying of two
sticks was better than one only. A great many books on the technique
of Ski-ing followed each other fast and furiously--Zdarsky and
Lilienfeld, Caulfeild and Lunn, Roget Hoeg and others all contributing
to the controversy on technique.

Now there are innumerable Ski Clubs with their own year-books, and the
sport is so well launched, not only in Europe, but also in Australia,
New Zealand, East Africa and America and elsewhere, throughout the
world, that there is but little chance of its ever again dying out.

The British Ski Clubs include the Ski Club of Great Britain, the
British Ski Association, the Alpine Ski Club and the Ladies' Ski Club.
These are federated in one Council and work harmoniously together for
the furtherance of British Ski-ing.

This is a very incomplete history, but I feel that it is better
to limit it to a few dates and to await the publishing of a more
extensive history of Ski-ing in English than now exists.


The expenses of a winter holiday differ according to the place chosen,
the hotel and the organization to whose care you commit yourself, if
any. Any figures I quote are approximate and are subject to change
owing to fluctuations in exchanges, etc.

If you go to a large hotel, with all its luxuries, you will pay
anything from £1 a day upwards, and this may not include sports tax,
etc. The smaller hotels will probably make arrangements for pension at
about 16 francs, or even 14 francs, or less, per day, but may not
be very comfortable, and comfort is important in winter. It is
particularly necessary that the hotel should be well heated, as the
drying of Ski-ing clothes is a very important point.

As I said in my Preface, the beginner will be wise who chooses a
centre where the sports are highly organized, and where he will be
certain to find coaching and arrangements made for tests and runs, as
well as a railway or funicular to help with uphill work. Only in such
a place can he learn enough Ski-ing in a short time to enable him to
begin to enjoy touring before he returns home, panting to come out
again and continue the experience. One joy of Ski-ing is that you
usually begin again where you left off, and have not to relearn what
you learnt the winter before.

Having lived in the Alps off and on for forty-six years, and having
seen all sorts of different ways of running things, I realized at
Mürren, where I first learnt to ski properly four years ago, how much
the beginner profits by going to such a centre. Otherwise he may
waste infinite time in Ski-ing without skill and with only half the
enjoyment. It is not only at Mürren that the coaching is given,
though Mr. Arnold Lunn's system of helping everyone originated there.
Pontresina provides it also, and Klosters and other places as well,
but it seems to me that Mürren is the mother of up-to-date British

The cost of a fortnight at a good hotel comes to about £15, including
sports tax, afternoon tea and heating. The journey about £7 return
2nd-class or £9 1st-class, in addition. This can be reduced by
travelling 3rd class in England and Switzerland, where at any rate it
is quite possible to travel 3rd class on any mountain railway.

In addition to the expense of Pension at an hotel and of the journey,
at least £5 will probably be required for local railway fares,
subscription to entertainment fund, baths, gratuities, hire of Skis,
lessons, guides, etc. £30 ought to cover a fortnight, and £35 three
weeks, and a good deal less can be reckoned if a smaller hotel be

Most of the Sports Hotels will now quote an inclusive price per day,
to which at least 10 per cent. should be added to the estimate
for gratuities to servants. This is the recognized scale at which
gratuities are given by most people, though they might often amount to
more when any special service has been rendered.

Local railway fares on mountain railways are high, because of the
great expense of keeping them open, but most of these railways offer
special sports tickets, either for a definite period as a season
ticket, or for a certain number of journeys. For instance, on the
Muottas Muraigl Funicular Railway above Pontresina 24 tickets single
journey can be obtained for the sum of Frs. 50, while the ordinary
single fare is Frs. 4.75, or more than twice the reduced fare.

The cost of equipment must be added to the estimate, but this need not
be very great as Ski-ing boots and gloves are the only items which
cannot usually be used at home by men--trousers or breeches being an
additional cost for women.

People sometimes complain that a Swiss winter holiday is very costly,
but I believe it can compare favourably with a golfing holiday at
home. Ski-ing is the cheapest possible sport, if runners are content
to foot it uphill instead of using railways or sledges. During the
months of February and March, special low terms can probably be
obtained in the hotels, as they are anxious to prolong their season,
and will do anything they can afford to induce British sportsmen to
come out then. February and the first half of March are the best time
from every point of view, so that no one who can take his holiday
then, and who does not want all the gaiety of the social side, will
regret going during these months. In old days before the war this was
fully appreciated and the season used to last three months, instead of
a short six weeks as it does now.


In this chapter I propose only to describe such of the larger Swiss
places as I know personally, or by reputation. There are a great many
smaller places where equally good, or even better, Ski-ing may be
found, but, as my book is meant mainly for beginners, it seems
preferable to adhere to the advice given in the preface, and for me to
mention only such centres as provide comfort in the hotels and good
coaching and organization of tours, as well as facilities for playing
other games. Most people when they go to the Alps for their first
winter visit wish to try all the different sports in order to see
which they like best, and there seems to me to be no question but that
the all-round sportsman gets the most out of his holiday.

There may be days when Ski-ing is not possible or when a few hours on
the rink or toboggan run offer a relief to a stale Ski runner. It is
usually only the really keen enthusiast of some years' standing who
can spend the whole day waxing or oiling his Skis, or poring over a
map planning future runs.

When choosing a place the first objective is a good supply of snow.
This does not seem to depend entirely on height, though there is more
likelihood of finding it above 4,000 feet than below that height.
Above 5,000 feet there is less chance of thaw and rain--the bugbears
of all Winter sportsmen, who can only go out for the Christmas

I have known a Winter when snow has lain in one district at 5,000 feet
and not at 6,000 feet in another, but this was exceptional. The higher
you go, the more hope you have of snow as a rule and also of frost,
which is so necessary to keep the snow in good condition.

The centres I recommend are mainly arranged in groups geographically,
taking the Canton of Graubunden, or the Grisons first, because it is
the country I love best, having spent most of my early life there. The
heights are taken from Murray's Handbook.

KLOSTERS, 3,970 feet above the sea. This seems to me to be one of the
very best Winter Sports centres. It is a small village with two large
and a few small hotels. It usually has good snow and is protected from
wind. There is plenty of sun, but North slopes provide good runs near
the village as well as on the Parsenn.

The Rhaetische Railway helps runners to get the maximum of downhill
running for the minimum of climb, especially opening up the whole
Parsenn district to those who want a long day's tour with only some
1-1/2 hours' climb.

The Nursery slopes are good, and there is plenty of open ground near
the hotels for practice. The Ski-ing is well organized by the local
club, and there are 1st-class Ski Instructors, as well as Certificated

The rinks are well kept and the Klosters run of old renown is
maintained in good condition for tobogganing or bobbing.

There is quite a good Ski map to be obtained locally, but the Ordnance
Map should be used as well.

Skis can be hired locally.

DAVOS, 5,015 feet above the sea, was one of the first places at which
Winter sports began, and it still offers almost everything desired by
the Ski runner. The fact that Davos is much visited by invalids deters
a great many people from going there, for fear of infection. As a
matter of fact they are probably a good deal safer there than in some
other places where there may be a few invalids, but where the same
precautions regarding disinfection may not be taken.

Two or three hotels are kept open for sports people only, and at these
the life is just the same as in all the other well-known centres.

Davos is within very easy reach by the Rhaetische Railway of all the
Parsenn runs. The side valleys, Fluela, Dischma and Sertig, all offer
innumerable good runs to the energetic runner who does not object to
climbing, and there are endless Nursery slopes. It is one of the
few places whence tours can still be planned over almost unlimited
snow-fields when a track is a rare sight except on the few ordinary
short runs or on the Parsenn.

The local club organizes the Ski-ing, and good Ski Instructors and
Guides are available.

The rinks are excellent and the Schatzalp and Klosters runs are
maintained for bobbing and tobogganing.

There is a good Ski map showing all the runs round Davos, but the
Ordnance Map should be used as well.

Skis can be hired locally.

AROSA, 5,643 feet above the sea, is said to be excellent for Ski-ing,
but I do not know it well. There is no railway to help runners much.
Invalids go there as well as to Davos, but the same precautions are
taken as at Davos.

There are rinks and a very good run for bobbing and tobogganing.

LENZERHEIDE, about 4,500 feet above the sea, has a fine reputation for
easy Ski-ing. There is no railway to help it and all uphill work has
to be done on Skis. I have never been there in Winter-time, but know
that a great many runners speak well of Lenzerheide. The Ski-ing is
organized, and good Instructors and Guides are available.

There is probably a good rink, but of this I have no personal

In the Engadine[1] valley, which is also part of Graubunden, the
following centres can be recommended.

PONTRESINA, 5,916 feet above the sea. The Nursery slopes are very
extensive and offer short runs to the beginner. The Muottas Muraigl
funicular conveys runners up some 2,000 feet, when after an easy climb
of one hour a really good run may be obtained back to Pontresina.

The Rhaetische and Bernina Railways open up a large number of good
runs in the Engadine valley and also up the Bernina and Morteratsch

Open wood-running as well as glacier-running under safe conditions can
be enjoyed near home, and Pontresina is undoubtedly one of the best
places for people who want to perfect their cross-country running
under different conditions.

There are no short afternoon runs ending in the village, but the
railways enable people to enjoy all the tours of the Upper Engadine.

The longer tours, such as those over the Kesch Glacier to Bergün or
Davos, are unequalled so far as I know.

Having spent two Winters at Pontresina, I can recommend it from
intimate knowledge, but only for the real beginner or for the expert
who wants amusing running. It is not the place for Ski-ers who only
want a short run between lunch and tea.

First-class Guides and good Instructors are available. The Ski-ing is
organized and plenty of coaching is given to members of the Public
Schools Alpine Sports Club.

Excellent rinks and short bobbing and tobogganing runs are maintained.

A useful guide describing all the runs in the Upper Engadine can be
obtained locally.

Skis can be hired locally.

ST. MORITZ, 6,037 feet above the sea.
CELERINA,   5,750  "     "    "   "
SAMADEN,    5,669  "     "    "   "
are all served by the Rhaetische and Bernina Railway, and have the
same Ski-ing facilities as Pontresina.

Their rinks and toboggan runs are well maintained, those at St. Moritz
being, of course, among the best in Switzerland.

Good Guides and Ski Instructors are available, but, so far as I know,
Ski-ing is not in any way organized for beginners in these places.

Skis can be hired locally.

ZUOZ, 5,617 feet above the sea, is also a good Ski-ing centre further
down the Inn Valley. There are only two or three hotels, and the
village is quite unspoilt. It provides the most wonderful open South
slopes for Ski-ing and North slopes are also within reach across the

Zuoz lies almost at the foot of the climb for the Kesch runs and also
taps the country further down the Inn valley behind Schuls.

So far as I know the Ski-ing is not organized in any way, but Guides
are available.

There are rinks, but, Zuoz being still one of the old-fashioned
places, life would be quiet there.

CAMPFER, about 5,850 feet above the sea, and

SILS-MARIA and SILVAPLANA, about 5,950 feet above the sea, lie
further up the Inn valley beyond St. Moritz. No railway exists to
help Ski runners, and the slopes are somewhat steep and apt to be
precipitous except in the Fex Thal, south of Sils-Maria, which has
lovely snow-fields.

Campfer and Silvaplana tap the country lying behind the Julier Pass,
but, as no railway helps here, the tours entail a lot of climbing and
a drive on the way home.

MALOJA, 5,935 feet above the sea, lies at the upper end of the Inn

Never having been there in Winter, I cannot describe it during that

It is a beautiful place in Summer, and may open up a good deal of
country which is not much tracked, as there is no village and only one
large and two small hotels.

The post road runs zigzagging down into Italy and is said to provide a
very fine bob or toboggan run. A Rink is kept open. Now that Maloja is
being opened as a Winter centre, every amenity for a Winter holiday
will probably be offered.

The Bernese Oberland is also one of the best Ski-ing districts in

Mr. A. Lunn has produced a very helpful guide to all the Ski-ing tours
and also, with the help of Herr Gurtner, a first-class Ski-ing map,
using the Ordnance Map as its basis, so that only one map need be

MÜRREN, 5,368 feet above the sea, seems to me to be one of the very
best centres for beginners as they receive so much help, and there are
numbers of short runs aided by the Allmendhubel funicular which runs
up some 700 feet above the village. From the top of this several short
runs end in the village or on the Berner Oberland Railway, which
brings the tired novice home without much effort.

The Berner Oberland and the Wengern Alp Railways also enable people to
get the best of the Scheidegg runs down to Wengen or Grindelwald.

The Ski-ing is very highly organized at Mürren and beginners receive a
great deal of help and encouragement.

There are Guides and Instructors.

The Rinks and bob run are admittedly among the best in Switzerland.

Skis can be hired locally.

WENGEN, 4,187 feet above the sea, is a lovely place, with the most
beautiful view of the Jungfrau. It faces south, but provides two or
three nice home runs, which remain in good condition except for the
tracks of innumerable runners.

The Wengern Alp Railway is usually open to the Scheidegg, though after
a very heavy snow-fall it may take a few days to clear. This enables
people to enjoy all the runs down to Grindelwald, returning to Wengen
by train.

The Ski-ing is organized and there are good Guides and Instructors.
Rinks and a most amusing toboggan run provide for off-days.

Skis can be hired locally.

GRINDELWALD, 3,468 feet above the sea, is too well-known as a Summer
resort to need much description here.

Its main fault in Winter is that the sun disappears behind a mountain
for about an hour and a half in the middle of the day. This ensures
perfect ice on the rinks and does not much affect the Ski runner, who
can climb beyond the shadow for lunch. I cannot resist mentioning my
good friend Frau Wolther's tea-shop as one of the great attractions at
Grindelwald, drawing many a Ski runner over the Scheidegg from Mürren
and Wengen! Frau Wolther's unfailing welcome and hospitality are a
great joy at the end of a hot, wet run, and the fact that a change of
clothes can be sent round by train to her care is a great comfort to
those coming from afar.

There are plenty of short Ski runs above Grindelwald, and the
Scheidegg railway is kept open as far as Alpiglen to help with the
climb on a long day's tour.

There are good Guides to be had, some of whom are probably Ski

The Rinks are first-class and both bob and toboggan runs are kept up.

Skis can be hired locally.

LAUTERBRUNNEN, about 3,000 feet above the sea. People who know
Switzerland well may wonder why I include Lauterbrunnen in my list,
but I have often wondered equally why no one makes it a centre for
Ski-ing. Though the sun may not shine there for long hours, the fact
that it lies at the junction of the Berner Oberland Railway, the
Mürren Funicular and the Wengern Alp Railway seems to me to make it a
very possible Ski-ing centre.

There are good hotels, and the Herr Gurtners, whose home Lauterbrunnen
is, may be depended upon as two of the best Ski runners in Switzerland
and two of the most active pushers of Ski-ing, to do their utmost to
help any British runners who decide to try Lauterbrunnen.

All the Mürren, Wengen and Grindelwald runs are within easy reach of
Lauterbrunnen, and if the railways will sell special tickets, the cost
of the journeys should not be prohibitive.

To my mind, the fact that one could stop at Lauterbrunnen after a day
over the Scheidegg would be a great comfort, as the last journey up
to Mürren or Wengen is apt to be tiresome after a long run, if often

In any case it seems to me that runners might do worse than write to
Herr Gurtner at Lauterbrunnen and ask for particulars, at any rate for
the Christmas holidays, when most of the popular villages are very
full and the hotel rates are high.

Good Guides are available at Lauterbrunnen.

KANDERSTEG, 3,835 feet above the sea. I have never been there except
in Summer when I know it well.

One great attraction about Kandersteg is that it can be reached by a
through train from Calais or Boulogne.

From the Ski-ing point of view, I think Kandersteg might be
disappointing to the runner who hopes for short runs. There are
excellent Nursery slopes, and the Loetschberg Railway probably opens
up quite a lot of country.

Guides are obtainable.

Rinks and toboggan runs are maintained.

ADELBODEN, 4,450 feet above the sea, is said to be an excellent
Ski-ing centre, but I do not know it personally, having only just been
up there in Summer time.

There is no railway to help, so that all climbing has to be done on
Skis. It is within reach of very good tours throughout the lower
Bernese mountains.

The British Championship was held there in 1923, which shows that the
Ski-ing is organized, and good Guides are, no doubt, obtainable.

Adelboden, being a well-known Winter Sports Centre, the rink and
toboggan runs are probably excellent, but, never having seen them, I
cannot vouch for them.

Skis can be hired locally.

SAANENMOSER, 4,209 feet above the sea, lies at the top of the low
pass between the Simmen Valley above Zweizimme and the Sarine Valley
running down to Gstaad and Chateau d'Oex.

There is only the one Sports Hotel and no village. It is a most
charming place within reach of Ski-ing in all directions among the
lower Bernese mountains.

The Montreux Oberland Railway running down both sides of the
Pass helps a little by carrying Ski runners home after some long
excursions, but all uphill work has to be done on Skis. The slopes
are gradual and the Saanenmoser runs are perfect for people who have
learnt the elements of Ski-ing in some active place, and who then want
to gain confidence by free running over easy country.

The Ski-ing was not organized when I was at Saanenmoser in 1921, and
neither Guides nor Ski Instructors were obtainable. There was only a
tiny rink and no toboggan or bob runs.

Skis can be hired at Gstaad.

GSTAAD, about 3,800 feet above the sea, lies below Saanenmoser, and is
a large village with numbers of hotels. The Ski-ing is very much the
same as at Saanenmoser and the Railway serves the same purpose, only
helping runners a little.

I have never stayed at Gstaad, but have heard it well spoken of as a
Winter Sports centre offering all the usual attractions.

Skis can be hired locally, I believe, and Guides are obtainable.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Rhone Valley offers a few centres which I do not know in Winter.
Among those I have heard most about, the following are outstanding.

VILLARS, 4,000 feet above the sea, is reached by a railway from Bex.
It lies on slopes facing South, and I gather that the Ski-ing there is
somewhat limited.

The rinks are said to be good and the usual Winter attractions are

MONTANA, 5,000 feet above the sea, is reached by a funicular railway
from Sierre. Like Villars it also lies on slopes, facing almost south,
but there seems to be good Ski-ing among the mountains behind.

MORGINS. In addition to the above, I would mention Morgins, which I do
not know personally, but of which I have heard a good deal. Morgins
is 4,406 feet above the sea, and is particularly well-known for its
rinks, which seem to be first-class. The Ski-ing is said to be good
but not extensive. There is no railway.

DIABLERETS, 3,849 feet above the sea, in a valley going from Aigle
among the mountains to the East, might be a good centre for Ski-ing,
but I only know it in Summer. So far as I have heard it offers the
usual attractions in Winter, but there is no railway to help much.

In other districts of Switzerland the following places should be
mentioned, although I have never been to them in Winter time.

ENGELBERG, 3,343 feet above the sea, in the Stans valley near Luzern,
is often well spoken of as a Winter centre, though it is liable to
thaw and shortage of snow. From what I know of it in Summer time I
should think that most of the surrounding slopes are too steep and
precipitous to allow of much free running, but the Titlis group
probably provides some open country and there is a short funicular
above the village.

There are excellent hotels, and all the usual attractions are offered.

ANDERMATT, 4,738 feet above the sea, lies in the Gothard Valley above
the Tunnel, and is easily reached in Winter by express trains stopping
at Goeschinen, whence a short mountain railway runs up to Andermatt.

I have only been there in Summer, and from what I saw should imagine
that Andermatt was subject to a great deal of wind. The slopes all
look somewhat steep and are bare of forest, so that they might be
somewhat dangerous on account of avalanches.

There is no railway to help Ski runners, but Andermatt might offer
quite a lot of good runs to experienced people.

I know nothing of the other attractions for the all-round Winter
sportsman, but have little doubt that Andermatt, which is a go-ahead
place, does all it can to satisfy them.

There are, of course, innumerable other places which may be good
Ski-ing centres, not only in Switzerland, but also in Germany,
Austria, and the Italian Tyrol.

The Jura mountains and places, such as Splugen and Schuls in
Graubunden, might open up new districts. There is much new country to
explore, and I have only picked out for notice the few places to which
I have been myself, or of which I have heard from people I trust.

My description may not always be appreciated by people who have
special affection for any one centre, but I have only tried to put
forward my own impressions for the guidance of any beginner who may
feel in a quandary as to what place to choose.

So much depends on weather conditions: if there is plenty of snow and
if the sun shines, almost every place is delightful. If, on the
other hand, a thaw settles in or fog descends on the mountains, or
a blizzard blows the snow about, or, worst of all, if rain falls,
reducing the snow to slush, nobody will be satisfied anywhere. Luckily
for Ski runners, even a few inches of wet snow will provide practice,
so that they suffer less than other Winter sportsmen when the weather
is unfavourable.

One thing can invariably be depended upon in Switzerland, namely a
warm welcome from the hotels, and every endeavour made to ensure the
comfort and enjoyment of their clients.

No country in the world lays itself out more for the satisfaction of
its visitors, and no holiday can beat a Winter holiday among the Alps
when the conditions are favourable and the sportsmen determined to
enjoy themselves.


[Footnote 1: There is apt to be a certain amount of wind in the whole
Engadine but its height counterbalances this by usually ensuring that
there is not a thaw, even at Christmas time.]


Clothing should be light, smooth, warm, loose and, when buttoned up,
it should leave no gaps. It is better to wear several thin, warm
garments than one thick one, for the simple reason that going uphill
one wants to peel to the minimum; sitting on top of a mountain or
ridge in a wind, one wants to pile on everything one possesses, and
going downhill one wants a medium amount, all of which will button up
so that the snow cannot penetrate inside. Ordinary country clothes
will usually suffice for the first season, especially if they are of
smooth material which will shake off the snow.

Men usually wear smooth wool or cotton gaberdene coats, and trousers,
and a peaked "Guide's" cap. Their trousers either tuck inside the
uppers of their boots and should be sufficiently long to do so without
pulling out in a strained turn or fall, or they may be buttoned round
outside the boots or folded and tied on with Norwegian puttees or
swanks. Breeches and stockings may be worn, but long puttees should be
avoided as they constrict the muscles and stop the circulation, thus
tending to frost-bite, which is a serious danger at high altitudes.

Sweaters, unless worn under a coat when practising or running
downhill, are quite unsuitable as the snow gets into the stitches and
then melts, and the sweater becomes a sponge and often stretches till
it is more like a woman's coat-frock than anything it was before! A
Ski-ing suit should be well provided with pockets, all of which should
have flaps to button over and keep the snow out. Also to keep the
contents in. Money and other things carried loose are apt to fall out
in a downhill fall. Once this winter, when getting up from a fall, I
saw what looked like a useful leather boot-lace lying in the snow.
I picked it up and found it was the bootlace attached to two
stop-watches, which I had been using for a test. As one cannot tie
one's money up with a boot-lace, it is wise to carry it safely, and
cheat the goatherds, who may surely make a profitable living out of
the various treasures lost by Ski-ers, which appear on the slopes
after the snow melts.

Women need very much the same sort of clothing as men. Either trousers
or breeches, whichever they prefer. These should be made to measure in
order to fit well and be worn with braces to pull them up. Thick boys'
stockings should be worn to pull up over the breeches. If women would
only realize how sloppy their nether garments sometimes look and how
really horrid breeches look hanging loose over silk stockings indoors,
they would surely be more careful to study and copy a man's neat legs
before they venture into man's apparel.

One sometimes sees women's coats made with innumerable fancy buttons
or tabs as decoration. These only add to the weight which no one would
want to carry, and also look out of place. So does fur trimming.
Ski-ing clothes cannot be too simple. Elaboration is easily obtained
by bright-coloured gloves, scarves or swanks.

Coats should be made with a belt, which can be buckled tight before
the descent. A sitting fall in soft snow is apt to provide the runner
with a good dose of snow inside the coat. For the same reason breeches
and trousers should be cut somewhat high above the waist.

Women need just as many pockets as men, and I strongly advise two
large side pockets and two smaller breast pockets outside the coat, as
well as two inside breast pockets--all with flaps to button over.

A felt hat is now usually worn by women Ski runners, who find the brim
a comfort on sunny days, while it also protects the eyes when Ski-ing
through a blizzard. Incidentally it helps to prevent snow from going
down the neck in a head-first fall. A chin-strap may be required for
fast running.

Boots are, perhaps, the most important part of a Ski runner's outfit.
They must be water-proof and large enough to hold two pairs of socks
in addition to stockings. The soles must be so stout that they will
not buckle or bend under the instep when the Ski binding is tight.
Heels must be low and should be slightly grooved at the back to hold
the binding. I have no hesitation in saying that most of the Ski-ing
boots sold in England prove to be unsatisfactory. Such firms as
Lillywhite and Fortnum & Mason, which make a study of suitable
equipment, may be trusted, and almost every Swiss bootmaker now sells
trustworthy boots for Ski-ing. I always buy my own boots from Och,
who has shops at Geneva, Montreux, Zürich and St. Moritz. They can be
relied on for at least two or three long seasons, if one is careful to
oil the uppers with boot oil occasionally, and never to oil the soles
except with linseed oil, which is said to harden them. On the whole,
however, the soles are safest left untouched. Boots should never be
dried on a radiator or by a fire. Personally I like hooks, rather than
eyelets, and I find that leather boot-laces last longer than others.

There is much discussion as to whether Ski boots should have nails in
the soles or not. They tend to wear away the aluminium or linoleum
plates fixed to the Skis under the foot, but on the other hand they
are almost indispensable when Skis are carried across a hard, steep
slope, or down an icy path. It seems to me that it is positively
dangerous to go any real Ski tour with unnailed boots unless crampons
or spikes to fit on to the heels be carried. New plates can easily be
fitted to the Skis when nails have worn through them, but nothing can
help the Ski-er down a steep, icy path or across a hard frozen slope
on smooth soles, unless he carries special contrivances to fix to his

People are now trying crepe rubber soles, but they are not solid
enough to bear the strain of tight bindings unless fixed to the usual
thick leather sole, when the whole becomes too thick for comfort. My
experience for several winters with beginners is that the soles of
most English boots buckle as soon as they are subjected to the tight
pull of a leather binding.

Few things are more irritating to a beginner than to find that his
binding will not hold on his boot. Over and over again in a run down
his Ski comes off and he delays his party by having to stop and put
it on again. Still it will not hold even though he ties it on with
string. Then he realizes that his boot is buckling. The sole arches up
under the instep and the binding, becoming loose, slips off the heel.

There is no cure for this, and the only solution is to use a toe
binding, such as the new B.B., or a solid binding such as the Ellessen
or Lilienfeld, instead of a heel binding. As most hired Skis have the
Huitfeldt heel binding it is essential to ensure that boots are of the
very best.

Gloves are another very important item of clothing. They should be
waterproof. This is easy to say but very difficult to obtain. The
rub of the stick on the palm of the hand tends to sodden almost any
material. Snow also gets inside during a fall and then, of course,
even the waterproof glove comes home wet. The best gloves are paws
made of thick horse-hide and lined with wool. They should have long
gauntlets wide enough to pull up over the sleeves and they should be
joined by a string going round behind the neck, under the coat collar,
long enough to allow of free use of the hands, and this string should
have another string joining it across the chest. It is often necessary
to slip off a glove and if they are not safely hung round the neck
they fall in the snow, which promptly runs inside, or they may be
dropped and lost.

Socks are a matter for individual choice. Some people like goat's-hair
socks, which have many of the qualities or disqualities of a hair
shirt. They are prickly and, therefore, perfect as a counter-irritant
under very cold conditions, but far too irritating for ordinary wear.
I was much amused in a London shop last winter when I heard a Ski-ing
expert advising a lady not to buy "those repulsive goat's-hair socks."
When she had bought what he advised I said I had come especially to
buy "a repulsive pair of socks." He immediately explained that he had
advised the lady not to get them because they only had two pairs left,
and he did not want to sell them. He let me have a pair, and the
only time I wore them I thought with amusement of his advice and
explanation. The lady was undoubtedly well out of them, and I hope
never to use them again. Some people swear by them, so all tastes must
be allowed for.

It seems to me better to wear two thin pairs of socks in addition to
stockings, rather than one pair of thick socks. If these seem to fill
the toes of the boot too much, the toe part of one pair of socks can
be cut off, the remainder being worn as an anklet.

Swanks, or Norwegian puttees, may be used to tie the socks above
or over the boot so as to prevent the snow from getting inside. Or
shooting anklets may also be used, granted that they are large enough
to go over the wide uppers of a Ski boot as well as the socks.

Footgear for Ski-ing is not elegant, but as every one wears the same,
nobody need feel shy. It is another reason for buying in Switzerland.
Ski boots of the right size bought in a London shop look so Gargantuan
that people will often insist on having a smaller pair than is really
useful when the time comes to wear them.

Spare clothing should invariably be carried on any run beyond the
nursery slopes as, in case of an accident and delay in fetching help,
a runner who is hurt may be badly frost-bitten. This, of course, only
applies to high places during the months of December, January and
early February, when the thermometer may often register 32° of frost
or more after the sun goes down.

When choosing equipment it is wise, therefore, to remember spare
clothing, which should include a Cardigan or Jersey, a dry pair of
woollen gloves, a dry pair of socks or stockings, a warm cap of some
sort to cover the ears and a scarf. All these should be chosen for
a combination of warmth and lightness. A wind-jacket is often
recommended. Some people carry a thin silk, or oil silk, or even
chamois leather, or paper waistcoat, to put on under their coats
when a wind blows. This is not necessary for any but long tours in
midwinter. A very useful "sail-cloth coat" specially made for Ski-ing
can be bought in most Swiss sports-shops and is excellent.

The great thing to remember about clothing for Ski-ing is that
climbing uphill you will probably get very hot and perspire freely.
To stop in a biting wind in this condition without putting on spare
clothing is obviously risky. It is difficult to ski freely in heavy
thick clothes, so that everything should be warm and loose and made of
wool except, perhaps, the wind-jacket or the Swiss coat, which can be
worn over a sweater.

Cotton or linen underclothing will probably soon be discarded, but
this is a personal matter, and need not be dealt with here.


The minimum amount of equipment should be purchased before going out.
The Swiss shops are just as well provided with Ski-ing necessities as
the British and it is expensive to take out heavy luggage. Most Swiss
hotels will gladly store Skis or gear of any kind through the Summer,
and these can be posted or forwarded by rail to any place the runner
chooses for the following season.

Clothing has been dealt with in a former chapter. Here I propose to
describe the equipment which I know, from experience, to be useful.

Skis can be bought in England or in Switzerland. One or two English
firms, such as Lillywhite, which really take pains to obtain the best
possible quality of goods, may be trusted to provide Norwegian Skis,
but there are also several makers of good Skis in Switzerland. Skis
should be made either of hickory or ash. Other woods such as birch and
walnut have been tried but these do not appear to make as satisfactory
Skis as hickory or ash. Hickory is heavy so that the beginner will
do well to get ash Skis in the first instance. Their average length
should be the height of the Runner with his arm extended above his
head, the tip of the Ski when standing upright being in the palm of
his hand and his fingers just able to bend over it. When the novice
becomes more proficient, he may like to try longer or shorter Skis,
but the average length is best to begin with.

Good makers, such as Bjornsted in Bern or Staub at Zurich, may be
trusted to make their Skis right proportionately, and the buyer need
not worry about their width or depth so long as the length is right.
There is a great deal of difference in the line of a Ski, as there is
in a boat. Flat ones are ugly compared with those which hump along
the centre, but they are also lighter. It seems to me wise for the
beginner to hire his first Skis, rather than to buy them. Most of the
sports shops in the different centres are very obliging and will allow
their clients to try two or three pairs of Skis in order to experience
the difference between them.

They should not curve up too abruptly in front and they should be
about one inch apart in the centre when laid flat one against the
other. This spring adds greatly to the comfort of running and should
be maintained by the Ski having a block of wood between them when put
away for the Summer or even when laid by for two or three days.

The question of binding is a very serious one. Broadly there are three
different types:

  (1) Toe bindings, by which only the toe of the
  boot is attached to the Ski.

  (2) Solid binding with a sole attached to the

  (3) Leather heel bindings.

(1) I have tried two forms of toe bindings--the B.B. and the B.B.B.
and gave them up for the following reasons. Firstly, I think it a
dangerous binding. There is practically no give at all so that in a
bad fall when the foot is twisted under one, if the Ski does not move
the leg has to give way and may be broken. I think surgeons agree that
there are more accidents as a result of wearing a B.B. binding than
any other--so that it seems to me much better to start with another
type of binding and then go into the B.B. later if preferred. Another
drawback is that as the whole pivotal pressure in a turn is borne by
the toe iron, when a B.B. binding is worn, the toe irons are always
being forced open. Not only that, but the spring on the Ski which
holds the hook on the boot is so strong that it tends to pull the boot
through the toe irons, so that gradually the boot gets longer and more
pointed and the spring no longer holds.

All this criticism may be due to prejudice on my part, but I have
tried the B.B. with enthusiasm and only gave it up because I was
convinced that a heel binding was more satisfactory. Since I tried it,
two or three new forms of toe binding have been put on the market, the
simplest of which seems to me to be the Davos form, which is merely a
strap fixed to the Ski with an iron loop at the end to fit into the
hook on the boot and an ordinary Huitfeldt spring buckle to fix it

(2) Solid bindings. The commonest forms of these are the Ellesen,
Lilienfeld and Bilgeri, but as I have never tried any of them, I can
say nothing about them.

(3) Heel bindings. There are two main forms of these--the Lap thong
and the Huitfeldt. The Lap thong is merely a long strap of raw hide or
leather. A loop is drawn through the hole under the toe iron, the long
end is taken round the heel and through the loop, then back round the
heel and through a slit in the other or short end. The long end is
then carried under the foot and round the instep and finally tied off
with a knot. This has been improved upon by a ring and buckle being
added to save slitting the leather or knotting the ends.

The Huitfeldt binding is a thick double-leather strap, which buckles
round the whole foot and has a strong spring to pull it taut when the
binding has been slipped on to the heel. This is the usual binding on
hired Skis.

I have tried both these bindings, and now wear a Scheer binding, which
is a combination of the two--the long Lap thong with buckles and also
a spring similar to the one tightening a Huitfeldt binding. The chief
drawback to a Lap binding was that it took time to put on so that
fingers got very cold and clumsy when fitting it before a run down
from a height. The trouble about a Huitfeldt binding is that it is
thick and clumsy and the buckles stick out so that they catch in the
snow when running.

The Scheer binding avoids these drawbacks. It is put on just as easily
as a Huitfeldt and the thin thong lies so closely along the boot that
there is nothing to catch in the snow. It is very easily lengthened or
shortened when the leather contracts or stretches and this is also
a great comfort. This binding being new, may not yet be obtainable
everywhere, but it is well worth trying to get. The Huitfeldt and
Scheer bindings both tend to give a little in a strained fall, so that
the foot slips round and the leg is usually saved.

Toe irons pass through the Ski under the toes and come up either side
to hold the foot in place. They should be carefully fitted and, with a
view to this, the boots should be left overnight with the sports shop
and the Skis fetched next day. The boot should lie quite straight
along the Ski. If the toe irons do not fit properly, the boot will be
cock-eye on the Ski, and too much free play may take place. I have
often seen beginners take advantage of this to stick their heels out
and off the Ski into the snow to help them uphill, or to act as a
brake downhill. They will rue it downhill, however, as the foot should
be firmly held on the Ski or control will be impossible.

Toe irons are sometimes made of very soft metal. These are usually
attached to Skis hired out by the sports shops in order that they may
be easily fitted to the many different shaped feet of the hirers. When
getting toe irons fitted to one's own Skis, it is wise to ask for
strong ones, as the soft irons give too freely to the pivotal action
of the feet in turns and tend to be constantly opening and becoming

Cast-iron toe irons are often used in conjunction with toe bindings in
order to avoid the difficulty of the irons being forced open by the
boot being pulled through by the spring. These irons have one great
fault. They have to be screwed on to the Ski and are very cold under
the foot. This may be considered imagination, but I believe it to be
true, in which case it may be prejudice.

The toe irons are joined over the toes by a leather toe-strap pulled
through and buckled. The irons should be so high that this strap does
not press at all on the boot, or restrict the free play of the toes.
The whole binding should be so fitted that it is possible to kneel
down on one's Skis.

Foot plates are nailed on the Ski under the foot. These are usually
made of linoleum or aluminium. I prefer a thick plain aluminium plate,
and find that the snow does not stick to it.

When the Skis have been chosen, sticks have to be provided. A pair
of sticks should be used, one being carried in each hand. They are
usually made of hazel or bamboo. The latter are light, but tend to
split. I always use hazel, which are cheaper and very satisfactory.

Sticks should be so long that they reach to just above the waist and
should not be very heavy though strong sticks are necessary for all
real touring. They should have padded leather knobs at the tops,
as these prevent the stick from slipping out of the hand and being
dropped during a run, as well as saving the hand from blisters when
the stick is much used in practising lifted stem or jump turns. Wooden
knobs are often used but these tend to get coated with ice, which wets
the glove and is uncomfortable.

A leather or webbing thong is passed through the stick or nailed under
the knob as a loop to hang them up by, but should never be put round
the wrist except for uphill work as the wrist might easily be broken
in a bad fall, if the stick be attached to it. My great idea is to get
rid of my sticks in a fall, as I once impaled my leg on the spike of
my stick in a somersault. I was thankful that the spike was a short
one and not one of the newfangled aluminium spikes which would have
penetrated much further and might easily have done damage to the bone.
Only a short spike is necessary--just long enough to go into crusted
snow and hold.

The discs round the bottom of sticks should be large, about seven
inches in diameter, and they should be loose so that they will lie
flat with the Ski when packed. I prefer them put on with a thong which
passes through the stick and is crossed backwards and forwards across
the disc, allowing of plenty of free play in the disc. By this means,
the thong does not cut where it passes through the stick. Discs are
often made almost solid and then fixed to the stick with an iron hasp,
which is apt to snap or to split the stick.

Sticks hired out with Skis usually have small discs and no knobs, and
most beginners will soon wish to possess their own pair, which only
cost about twelve francs. A word of advice here. Keep your sticks
in your bedroom. Even in the best Ski-ing circles sticks sometimes
disappear--and once your own sticks go, you are tempted to take
anybody else's and so the mischief goes on!

The Rucksack is a very important item of equipment It should be
waterproof and large, even if you do not intend to carry much. Nothing
is more uncomfortable than a small full Rucksack, perching like a
football on one's back. By the time a packed lunch and a cardigan
as well as some spare gear is stuffed into the sack, it swells. Two
outside pockets and one large inside division are indispensable. Keep
wax, scraper, string, etc., in one outside pocket ready to hand. Map
in the other.

Leather shoulder straps are the best as they do not cut the shoulder
in the same way as webbing. I once hunted a great many London shops in
vain for a Rucksack with leather shoulder straps. They all had thin
webbing, which soon turns into a wisp and hurts the muscles of the
shoulder. The leather straps should finish on a ring at the top which
should be attached to the top of the Rucksack by a leather tab firmly
sewn on. This is a much safer system than running the string, which
pulls up the top of the sack, through the shoulder straps at the back,
because the pull on the string chafes it and gradually cuts through
it. Some experienced runners prefer the Bergans Rucksack on an
aluminium frame. It is unquestionably heavier than the ordinary sack,
but the frame resting on the hips helps to distribute the weight and
it is said to be less tiring to carry. Another joy about it is that
the frame keeps the sack off the back, so that there is an air space,
and the usual poultice effect of an ordinary Rucksack is avoided.

There are many different types of Rucksack to be had in Switzerland.
They should be waterproof and as the waterproof material is very
expensive now, a good serviceable sack costs at least Frs. 17.00 to
25.00. The better Rucksacks have straps fixed outside for carrying
one's coat or possibly sealskins. (Sohms skins should be carried
inside the sack.) I advise people to carry the various contents of
their sacks in different bags, or tied up in handkerchiefs. This may
sound old-maidish, but it is a trick I learnt from Swiss climbers and
I am very thankful. Anyone who has hurriedly searched his sack for
some particular bit of gear knows the sort of haystack which results,
while if first-aid equipment, sealskins, spare bindings, emergency
rations, mending outfit, etc., are all carried in separate,
differently coloured bundles inside the sack, endless time is saved.
This is particularly worth considering in a blizzard, when fingers are
cold and nothing can be found.

Skins are used for climbing uphill on tour. They consist of long
strips of sealskin, which are attached to the running surface of the
Skis. The hairs lying towards the back of the Ski catch in the snow
and prevent the Skis from slipping backwards, which is a great help
and saving of energy. The Skis can be kept in good slipping condition
with oil or wax, and when the skins are taken off at the top of a run,
very little further preparation is necessary.

There are two forms of sealskins:

(1) Sohms skins, which are attached to the Skis with wax.

(2) Those made up on canvas with straps to fix them to the Skis.

The latter can usually be hired by the day for about Frs. 3.00 from
the local sports shop, and cost about Frs. 20.00 to buy. Most runners
now use the Sohms skins, the great gain being that one can run
downhill almost as well when they are still on, so that on a tour with
one or two short descents _en route_, the Skis may be left on.

Waxes are of many kinds, and some runners, not content with what they
buy, prefer to mix their own.

The waxes most used in Switzerland are Skiolin, both hard and soft,
Sohms' with red, yellow or green label, and Parafine.

I have found that hard Skiolin ironed into the running surface of
the Ski with a hot iron, provides a good surface. Sohms' wax being a
climbing wax is apt to stick to some kinds of snow and if Sohms' skins
have been used, it is wise to scrape all this wax off before the run
down and to polish the Ski with Parafine wax if it needs a finish. On
hard snow this is not necessary.

Some waxes are used as climbing wax instead of skins, but as different
sorts are needed for different types of snow, they complicate life
almost more than is worth while.

A very good permanent surface on Skis is obtained by oiling them
repeatedly with linseed oil, allowing them to dry thoroughly between
each coat of oil. This is a somewhat lengthy process and an impossible
one if the Skis are in daily use, but it is much the best method at
the beginning or end of the season.

The best Sohms' skins are dark grey or black and they cost about Frs.
25. The leather surface should be carefully waxed with green label
Sohms' wax before starting on an expedition. The wax should be
very thinly spread, and it is wise to get this job done at leisure
overnight and to lay the skins together with their waxed surfaces
touching, and to keep them in a warm room, but not near a heater or

When starting on an excursion wear the skins wound round your body
under your coat so that they remain warm and supple until required.
Then wax the running surfaces of the Skis with yellow label Sohms' wax
as sparingly as possible. It should be spread smoothly and without
lumps. When putting on the skins lay them along the Skis from the tip
towards the back and run your thumb down the line of the centre groove
in the Ski, while you press the skin on evenly over the whole Ski.

New skins are apt to shrink after use, so it is better not to cut the
strap, which slips over the tip of the Ski. The best plan is to make
a second slit in this strap and slip it on, and then if the skin is
still too long turn the end part up over the Ski at the back, sticking
it on with wax. Then, when the skins have been used for two or three
days, it is easier to decide what length the strap should be.

Having put your skins on, lay the Skis flat on the snow so that the
skins will freeze on.

Sealskins must never be dried by a heater or stove as the heat
shrivels them and they are ruined.

When not in use, they can be kept rolled up in a bag and should be
carried in the Rucksack rather than hanging on outside. Frozen skins
are very difficult to attach.

A scraper should invariably be carried when Ski-ing, even on the
Nursery slopes. These are made of aluminium and the best type has a
groove which will fit into the groove of the Ski and scrape this as
well as the flat surface, as ice is apt to adhere there also. Some
runners carry, attached to their belt, a Norwegian hunting knife in
its case. This is excellent for scraping the Skis and for any purpose
for which a strong knife may be wanted, but it always seems to me that
it would be a nasty thing to fall on.

A strong ordinary knife should invariably be carried. The Swiss
military knife is the best possible as it seems to include practically
everything necessary. A really good one costs about Frs. 12.00 or Frs.
14.00, though inferior steel may be had for a great deal less. It
should have a ring and be attached to the belt.

Dark spectacles or goggles should be included in equipment.

A mending outfit is often needed, and at least one member of every
party going on tour should carry something with which to mend broken
Skis. There are many patterns of spare Ski tip on the market, all of
which may be useful in certain circumstances, but I have no doubt that
the wooden Ski tip is the best. It is just an ordinary front part of a
Ski, about two feet long and planed off, so that it will lie close to
the broken Ski. This is fixed on by metal clamps, which are made on
purpose and can be bought in most winter sports shops. Holes, at
different intervals fitting the clamps which should be put on
lengthwise, may be bored beforehand in the Ski tip, in order to save
time when the tip may be needed on tour. The gimlet supplied with the
clamps is usually a poor one, and I always carry a spare gimlet, a
little larger than is necessary, as it is difficult to make the holes
in exactly the right place in a broken Ski. Cold and clumsy hands have
always to be reckoned with when Ski-ing.

The clamps being somewhat roughly made are apt to break so that one
should carry at least five pairs. In putting them on, take care not to
drop the little square nut off the bolt into powder snow as it sinks
at once and may be irretrievably lost.

Other makes of spare Ski tips include one made of cast aluminium
produced by Lillywhite, who will probably improve upon it, as at
present it seems to me to be too flat. The method of fixing it is,
however, a good one.

The Swiss sports shops also keep light tips made of tin and copper,
which are affixed by various methods, but they are usually too short
and thin to be more than a makeshift.

If a Ski is broken near the front, the wooden Ski tip, when properly
adjusted enables one to run any distance quite comfortably and even
permits of turns. It is clumsy to carry except in a Bergans Rucksack.
A long, narrow pocket might be sewn diagonally across the back of an
ordinary Rucksack in which to carry it, but I am afraid it would be
uncomfortable. I tried such a pocket vertically and found it quite
intolerable and even dangerous in some falls.

Mending outfit must also include a spare binding and a toe strap,
as well as some string and cord, wire, and two or three leather
boot-laces. The best spare binding to carry is a Lap thong, as it is
easier to push through than a Huitfeldt, unless a thin single strap is
carried for the front part of the latter. In any case a bit of wire
facilitates the pulling through of the thong or strap.

An inexperienced runner, who has not used a Lap thong, should try
fitting one at home before depending on it in emergency, as it is a
little tricky to put on at first.

Runners going any distance on tour should carry some sort of first-aid
equipment. It need not be elaborate, but should include bandages, a
clean dressing (a first field dressing is the best and most compact),
iodine and adhesive plaster, and some vaseline or boracic ointment.
Even a scratch will go on bleeding on a cold day and be very tiresome.
Accidents are miraculously few and far between in Ski-ing, considering
the falls and the large number of people who ski. But they happen
occasionally, and it is as well to be prepared.

The list of gear could be prolonged to any extent, as "What to carry
in my Rucksack" becomes an enthralling hobby. Everyone will eventually
decide what he thinks he ought to have, in order to come home with a
free conscience after any eventuality. Another runner has suggested
my adding a pair of small pincers, a pocket tool outfit, matches or
fusees, an electric torch, scissors.

Weight has to be considered, as the more the Ski runner carries the
greater the effort, but there is undoubtedly great satisfaction
in feeling that one has everything which might be helpful in any
emergency. If three or four runners are going together the whole gear
can be distributed among them, but this makes it more necessary than
ever for the party to keep together as a spare Ski tip or similar
luxury is no use at the bottom of a run when the accident is near the

Even if one does not need all the gear oneself, it seems better to be
prepared to help other people who are in difficulties.

The following lists show firstly what I think every runner going
several miles beyond home ought to carry; and secondly what a great
many runners carry in addition:

(1) A strong knife with corkscrew, leather punch, tin opener, etc.

(2) A Ski tip, gimlet and mending outfit.

(3) Wire.

(4) String and cord.

(5) Spare binding and toe strap.

(6) Dark yellow glasses (Triplex are safest).

(7) Siren or strong whistle.

(8) Emergency ration of some sort, such as chocolate, raisins, dates.

(9) Spare clothing including cardigan or sweater, dry gloves, dry
socks, scarf, cap to cover ears.

(10) First-aid equipment.

(11) Map.

(12) Wax and scraper.

Some runners carry all these things and the following besides:

Matches, lantern (folding), or electric torch, aneroid, compass,
pincers, hammer, brandy, thermos with some hot drink.

A great many people will laugh at me for suggesting all this gear, but
I do so out of experience. When one has ski-ed some years with a good
many people, one looks back with amusement to the number of times when
one has been asked to provide any of the above.

People go out without spare clothing, food, first-aid equipment,
repair outfit. Something happens, and they at once look round to see
where they can borrow. Now borrowing is not part of the game and every
runner should be independent. It is easy when going on tour, to divide
up the gear so that every member of the party carries his share; it is
not necessary for each member to carry the whole of what I have shown.
Let each carry enough to feel self-reliant, and let the party carry
enough not only for their own needs, but also for any other runner in
distress whom they may come across. Ski-ing should be an unselfish

At a certain centre one Winter, word was brought in at about 3.30 p.m.
by a member of a party of three that one of his companions was lying
in the forest about a mile away with a badly broken leg. Three runners
dashed off from the Nursery slopes with the man who brought the news,
to show them the way. I posted a friend to watch where they entered
the wood, while two other strong runners fetched clothing and hot
drinks in a thermos. Somebody else called up the Rettung chef and the
doctor. All this help was mobilized within an hour.

Meanwhile the man was lying in the snow in the wood with a badly
broken lower leg. The sun had set and the temperature very low.
Not one of the party had any spare clothing or gear of any sort. A
sensible man, who had been one of the first three to go off from the
slopes told me afterwards that if hot drink and clothing had not come
soon, he was convinced that the man would have died. As it was he was
nearly unconscious and his pulse had nearly stopped.

Dark came on and the doctor and the ambulance sledge did not arrive.
Instead of going the way the others had disappeared, they tried a
route they thought easier and took too high a line in the forest.
The trees muffled sound, and though both parties were shouting and
whistling, they heard nothing till at about 6.30 p.m. one of the
watchers heard a runner near and went off after him in the dark and
luckily found him. This man was scouting for the doctor and sledge and
finally brought them to the scene of the accident at 7 p.m.

By this time some one or two of the watchers had gone home nearly
frozen, leaving all possible clothing on the injured man. Three others
stayed and rubbed him without intermission, which probably saved his
life and limbs. The doctor had brought a splint which he put on by
light of an electric torch and the man was taken to the station and
sent off at once to the hospital.

Now, all this happened within a mile of home where help was handy.
Such accidents happening several miles from home may have far more
serious consequences, and every Ski runner, who scoffs at the
precautions of people more fussy than themselves, may very likely have
the life or limb of someone else on their mind when, had they been a
little more fussy, they might have saved it.

Not only that, the selfish runner, who travels light, may well be a
serious burden to others and risk their safety and comfort through his
own foolhardiness.

Ski-ing is a game which sorts people out, and where the character of
people like sailors, who know what it is to face the elements, shows
up well against the civilian, whose greatest risk in life at home is
crossing a street at a busy hour.

People may ski for years without getting hurt, and the experienced
runner probably hurts himself less than the beginner. Yet it is the
experienced runner who carries the gear, the beginner it is who
usually scoffs and takes risks, not only to himself, but to the people
who have to go out to look for him when he is benighted or hurt.


Skis call for a good deal of attention if one takes the game
seriously. People who only come out for a fortnight and who hire any
pair of Skis, which they treat as they would the floor of an omnibus,
have no appreciation of how much attention Skis need, if they are to
be really dependable in all sorts of snow.

New Skis should be well-oiled with two or three coats of Linseed oil,
which should dry between each coat. I think hickory needs the oil just
as much as ash, but some people disagree with this. The oil hardly
goes beyond the surface of the wood and soon rubs off on hard snow,
but it preserves the wood as well as giving a slipping surface so
long as it lasts. Newly oiled Skis when dry need very little further
attention for a few days, as they will run well over all sorts of

When there is no time to oil, because the Skis are in daily use, wax
can be ironed in. Most good sports hotels now provide a bench with
an electric iron in a special heated and lighted room where the
Ski-runner can work happily after tea, or on a snowy day. If no such
room be provided, it should be clamoured for, because the waxing of
Skis is a much more difficult job without it. The patent iron "Para"
is helpful where no electric iron is provided. "Para" is an oblong
perforated metal box with a handle which screws in. A lump of Meta
(solid spirit fuel) is lighted and put inside and the iron becomes hot
and is rubbed up and down the Ski, while wax is pressed against it and
dribbled on to the wood.

Almost any wax can be ironed in, but I think the hard black "Skiolin"
is best for the purpose. Be careful to wax the groove as well as the
flat surface of the Ski.

When Skis are put away for the summer, the upper as well as the
running surfaces should be oiled or re-varnished in order to preserve
the wood.

Leather bindings may be well oiled with special boot oil to keep them

Skis should never be kept in a hot place, as they are apt to warp, but
they should be kept dry when put away.

Boots should never be dried by a fire or on a heater, but should be
stored in a cool place. They need occasional oiling of the uppers with
some sort of boot oil. Dubbin may also be used and is good for filling
places, such as between the sole and the upper. The soles should never
be oiled, except perhaps with Linseed oil, which hardens the leather.
I think the wisest plan is to leave the soles dry, but if snow balls
on them they can be waxed with Ski wax. This is often specially
necessary on the heel. If boots be put outside the bedroom every
night, the porter will oil them automatically, in most good hotels.

Sealskins should be wrapped up in newspaper and stored in a cool place
when put away. Moth will ruin them if left open and heat crumples
them, making them useless. A friend told me that when her seal Skis
(webbing ones) were ruined by being put near a fire, she recovered
them by soaking them in salad oil. She was certainly using them quite
happily afterwards.


This book does not profess to be in any way a textbook of the
technique of Ski-ing. As stated in the preface, my only idea in
writing it is to provide an answer to a good many questions which have
been asked me every year. Anyone who deals with a great many people
knows that there are always some fifty stock questions, which can
quite easily be answered by fifty stock answers. What I say in this
chapter about the first run will be the barest elements of Ski

Beginners should obtain either Arnold Lunn's books, or those of Vivien
Caulfield, and concentrate on the theory of turns. I have known two
or three novices who, though they had never even seen Skis before, by
dint of studying the technique in theory before they came out, were
able immediately to apply it in practice. Most beginners find,
however, that the moment the Skis start sliding, all theory is thrown
to the winds. Instinct of self-preservation prevails and they sit
down. Kind friends looking on say, "That was because you were leaning
backwards. You must lean forwards." Off they start again, carry out
the advice, their Skis stick for some reason and down they go head
foremost--the most difficult fall of all to get up from, and the most

The great thing is not to do too much the first two days after coming
out. The height affects people more than they realize at first, and
great energy, due to the bracing air, is often followed by great
lassitude. Most people are not in training, and Ski-ing tries the
lungs, nerves, and muscles of the fittest as the whole system seems to
be brought into play.

A few hours' practice on the Nursery slopes is usually enough for the
first two or three days, and if, at the end of the week, the beginner
seems to be falling more than when he first began, half or even a
whole day off Skis will produce wonderful results in better balance
and general fitness.

Having chosen Skis, and ensured that the toe irons and binding fit
you, go out to some gentle slope of about 10° with soft snow, if

Set your Skis at right angles to, or across, the fall of the slope
before putting them on, because Skis are quite apt to go off alone if
pointing down, hill. It is as well to realize this from the first and
to adopt the habit of preventing it in the way I suggest, because many
a run has been ruined by a Ski descending alone to the valley below,
leaving its owner to get home as best he can on one leg. Even if it
only goes down some 100 or 200 feet, the friend who goes after it and
brings it back often has a good deal to say, and you are lucky if the
Ski has not struck a rock or tree and got broken in its independent
run. It is no good getting angry on these occasions. I once watched a
boy on a distant slope, who had been obliged to descend some hundreds
of feet after one of his Skis. When he got hold of it in a temper he
started beating it with his stick, and continued doing so till the
stick nearly broke.

While on the subject of runaway Skis, I may as well warn you also
against a runaway Rucksack. I put mine down at my feet on a steep
hard-crusted slope while I took off my coat one day, and the Rucksack
started sliding slowly down below us. The party was made up of
beginners and we had ropes on our Skis instead of skins so that no
one could catch it up till it stopped about 200 feet below us. To add
insult to injury at the same time, somebody dropped a 50-ct. bit at
the same moment and this danced off down into the valley, racing the
Rucksack and beating it hollow.

But to return to the start. The Skis are safely lying across the
slope, and you are going to put them on. Put on the lower one first.
Never forget this, because it will often prevent a runaway Ski. If the
slope is very steep and hard, you should stick the other Ski upright
in the snow above you, in order that it may remain well in hand while
you put on the first. You will probably find it impossible to put on
your Skis with gloves on. If you lay these on the snow, they will
undoubtedly get snow inside them. The safest place to put them is one
on each stick, stuck upright on either side of you, or tuck them into
your belt or pockets.

When you have your Skis and gloves on and everything else is
hermetically sealed, you are ready to start sliding or traversing
slowly across the slope, before going straight down it. This will give
you time to get the feeling of Skis, which are clumsy at first. Slide
one foot forward, then the other, but do not lift them. Now try a kick
turn and come back across the slopes to the top and face straight
downhill. Keep your Skis closely side by side, one foot leading by
about twelve inches and push yourself off with your sticks. Try to
imagine that the Skis are only a moving staircase and that all you
have to do is to stand upright on them and let them do the rest. If
your slope is only 10° and there is nothing steeper below you, the
Skis won't do much. Indeed in deep snow they may refuse to move at
all, in which case try pushing yourself along with your sticks. The
great thing is always to want to run faster than you are going and,
therefore, only to choose slopes where you feel that you can keep up
as fast as the Skis go. It is a mistake to start immediately down such
a steep slope that the Skis run away with you. At the same time it is
also a mistake not to increase the angle of your slope as soon as you
can compete with it.

Stand upright, press the knees together and try to feel that there is
a spring in your knees. Let one or other foot lead so that, if the
Skis stop, the front foot takes your weight and prevents you plunging
forwards and if the Skis suddenly plunge forward, the back foot is
equally ready to take the weight and prevents you from sitting down.

Whatever you do, avoid the hideous doubled-up position of a runner,
who bends at waist and knees, with feet parallel and far apart,
looking like a note of interrogation and leaving what we call
tram-line tracks. By his tracks shall a Ski-er be judged!

Look back and see the line you have left. If your two feet have left
two tracks with more than six inches apart in soft snow, you must not
be contented. In a good track, the two feet should leave one track,
but some bindings make this impossible, so that unless you are wearing
a toe binding you need not worry about a gap of two or three inches
between your feet. This only applies to soft snow running. On hard or
crusty snow, it is almost impossible and also dangerous to keep the
feet together.

When you have begun to feel at home on Skis, go off to a much steeper
slope and try traversing. Choose a slope which has flattish ground
below so that you have an easy out-run and nothing to make you

Remember for your comfort that if you go across a slope leading
with the upper foot and with most of your weight on the lower
foot--standing upright and, if anything, leaning a little outwards
away from the slope, you can traverse across almost any slope without
difficulty, so long as it is not too steep for the snow to bear your
weight without slipping itself. Nothing is more comforting to a
beginner than to realize this. It takes away the feeling of giddiness
and gives confidence, but it needs learning and should be practised at

The first tendency of Skis on a steepish slope is to point more and
more downhill till, finally having intimidated the beginner into
allowing them to go their own way, they plunge straight down, and the
beginner collapses. To counteract this put more weight on the heel and
less on the toes while traversing.

This will push the back part of the Skis down and the front part
uphill across the slope and, if done sufficiently, the Skis will stop
and you have begun to get some feeling of control when traversing.

Standing upright the inner edge of your Skis will bite into the snow.
Try leaning inwards, as you will do by instinct, and you will find
your feet slipping away down the slope and you will gracefully recline
full length against it. It is exactly the same when walking across
a steep grass slope in Summer. Most of the slips are due to leaning
towards instead of away from the slopes.

As you get more confidence in your running, try lifting one Ski off
the ground as you slide along. Or even take off one Ski and try
running on the other; lifting a Ski will often save a fall. For
instance if the Skis get crossed, just lift the upper one and put it
down beside the other again while running. It is perfectly easy and
yet I have known people who, after weeks of practice, dared not lift a
Ski off the ground while moving, only because they had never tried it
as routine practice.

Whatever you do by way of practice do it first on one foot and then
on the other, or you will become a right or left-footed Ski-er and it
will take ages for you to feel equal confidence in either foot. This
applies especially to turns. Beginners will often go on practising a
turn on the right foot, till they can do it and then have to re-learn
it completely on the left foot.

Straight running downhill is mainly a question of confidence and
balance. As said before, it is better at first to avoid straight
running down a steep slope, because the Skis may go so fast that the
beginner is quite incapable of keeping up with them and a fall at very
high speed is somewhat upsetting and may temporarily shake your nerve.

Choose a low gradient of about 12° or 15° where you can see the
out-run which should be on to level ground or even a gentle rise so
that the Skis gradually pull up of their own accord. Soft snow is the
easiest and confidence may soon be won in this.

Stand upright or bend the knees, but do not bend at the waist. You
should feel as though on springs and you want your weight should be
well forward over your feet so that you can keep up with the Skis.
Standing in tube or bus, facing the way you are going and not holding
on to anything is very good practice at home. You will notice that a
bus conductor usually gives with the movement of the bus, so that he
is prepared for whatever it does. So with Ski-ing. Look ahead and see
what the ground is like, and then suit your balance to what is likely
to occur as the ground rises or falls. This soon becomes automatic but
it needs thinking out at first.

When the snow is hard, practise side slipping, because it will help
you out of many difficulties and once you know the feeling of it, you
will find that it replaces the downhill side-stepping, which is so

On hard snow, it is possible to go down broadside on by merely
standing on one's Skis and turning one's outer or lower ankle outwards
and one's inner or upper ankle towards the other, so that the Skis are
lying flat on the snow, instead of the edges biting into it. Push off
with your stick from the slope above you and weight your heels or your
toes according to whether the Skis are sinking in front or behind.
Have confidence, keep upright, lean away from the slopes and let your
Skis slide and don't blame me if you suddenly slide into a soft patch
of snow, which stops the Skis dead and you fall head downwards. This
is all in the day's work. If the surface of the snow is uniformly hard
you will slip down without difficulty.

Seriously, side slipping is a huge help and should be learned at once.
Mr. Caulfield gives first-class instructions, which are easy to follow
in detail.

When going uphill never try to climb steeper than is easy. If the Skis
are slipping back, you are going too steep and should turn off and
traverse instead. No time is saved by too steep a climb; the man who
goes easily gets to the top first, while the other clambers up almost
on all fours, gets hot and exhausted and has gained nothing. If I am
leading an elementary run uphill, I can soon pick out the experienced
runners by the line they take and the pace at which they climb. The
puffing, panting, stumbling people, who forge ahead, herring-boning or
turning their ankles over their Skis so as to get a grip with their
boots, are not included in my "experienced runners."

Another hint for uphill work is that when traversing a slope, the
Skis should be edged so that the inner edge of the Ski bites into the
slope. A Ski with its whole surface flattened to the slope is bound to
slip especially on hard snow. By standing upright as you go uphill and
keeping the ankles straight, the Skis will be edged in the right way.

A quick way of getting up a steep slope is side-stepping. As you stand
with your Skis horizontal across the slope, lift the upper foot and
place it on the slope a few inches higher. Then lift the lower foot
and place it beside the upper. You will soon be able to do this while
advancing across your traverse at the same time, but it is hard work
and should only be used for short climbs.

Side-stepping is a very good way of climbing, but should be avoided
when descending, except when approaching a narrow gap in a fence or
crossing a stream where the approach is steep.

I have known a party almost benighted by a beginner, who had
discovered the joys of side-stepping and proposed to descend some
1,000 feet by this safe method, instead of sliding in the proper way.
Allowing eight inches to each side-step, how many hours would it take
to descend 1,000 feet?

A further hint, which may be useful for uphill work. If the Skis are
slightly lifted at every push forward, they tend to stick instead of
sliding back.

Always stand upright when climbing and keep the weight well on the
heels. People tend to bend forward and this adds greatly to the effort
and the Skis are more likely to slip back.

On long climbs sealskins are usually used on the Skis. The hairs lying
towards the rear stick into the snow and prevent the back slip, while
when the Ski pushes forward, they lie flat and offer no resistance.

The best uphill track is the one which keeps going at the same angle.
Every good walker knows how tiring it is to go up and down across
country when gullies have to be crossed. It is disappointing, having
got up a certain height, to lose all that is gained by going down
again. So it is even more with Ski-ing, when uphill work is really
more arduous than walking. Mr. Caulfield gives a very helpful
description of a good uphill track, and Skis tend to teach the
beginner how to keep the angle as they slip so easily downwards the
moment the uphill direction is altered.

When going uphill make up your mind what point you want to reach in
the distance and what line will take you to it most easily and then
go for it steadily, keeping the same angle all the way so far as is
possible and choosing your places for turns very carefully before you
reach them.

Following an experienced leader teaches a great deal about the art of
setting an uphill track, and the criticisms of the rest of the party
following, when the leader loses height soon make one want to avoid


In organized Ski-ing centres a perfectly good code of etiquette is
growing up as the result of experience.

So many novices pour out on to the slopes with no knowledge of the
game that notices are even posted on the boards in the hotels giving a
few of the main points of the Law.

One such notice runs as follows:

(1) Ensure that you take your own Skis, sticks, etc. when you start
out. It is wise to mark sticks, and they are safest kept in bedrooms.

(2) Never join a private party unless invited.

(3) Only join the advertised tours, the test for which you have

(4) The slower mover has the right of way. The faster mover must avoid
him. Never call "Fore," "Achtung," etc.

(5) Always offer help to anyone in difficulties.

(6) Keep with your party. They might waste a lot of time looking for
you while you run home because you thought their pace too slow.

(7) Never desert a runner who, for any reason, is unable to keep up
with a party.

(8) Carry your own gear including spare clothing, Ski-ing necessaries,

(9) Avoid stepping on the Skis of another runner. This caution is
especially necessary for uphill work.

(10) Remember that wherever you leave a track others may follow.
Therefore only choose safe slopes. The snow is liable to slip on
slopes of 25° or more, so that these are dangerous.

Ski-ing is a sport which can be made dangerous for others if
individuals do not carry out the usual etiquette. It may seem
extraordinary that people should need warning not to join a private
party unless invited, but it is sadly true.

One day as I was starting off on a long run a stranger came up to me
and asked if she might join us. I consulted the Guide, and he said he
already had as many in the party as he could take charge of. I told
the lady this, and said I was sorry that we could not accept her
companionship. She at once replied cheerily, "Oh, then I will follow
you." Nothing could prevent her from doing this. Switzerland is a free
country, and there is a right of way anywhere over the mountains in
winter. We started off and she followed. From that moment, of course,
we automatically became responsible for her because one of the Laws
is that you never desert a runner who is alone. She was a very poor
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
same nuisance.

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
out tidily.

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 "Grüsse," or "Grüss 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


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,
"Alpine Ski-ing."

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° to 20°, 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.


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
Graubünden, 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
wise people.

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.


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
Ordnance Map.

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°, 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° slope
should usually be safe. (A 25° slope may be dangerous under some

A comfortable slope is 5 contour lines in 1 centimetre, or a gradient
of 17°. 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°.


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° 24'     |  40.9
    200'         |    2° 45'     |  20.8
    300'         |    4° 07'     |  13.9
    400'         |    5° 29'     |  10.4
    500'         |    6° 50'     |   8.3
    600'         |    8° 12'     |   6.9
    700'         |    9° 33'     |   5.9
    800'         |   10° 52'     |   5.2
    900'         |   12° 11'     |   4.6
  1,000'         |   13° 30'     |   4.2
  1,100'         |   14° 47'     |   3.8
  1,200'         |   16° 04'     |   3.5
  1,300'         |   17° 20'     |   3.2
  1,400'         |   18° 34'     |   3.0
  1,500'         |   19° 48'     |   2.8
  1,600'         |   21° 00'     |   2.6
  1,700'         |   22° 11'     |   2.5
  1,800'         |   23° 22'     |   2.3
  1,900'         |   24° 30'     |   2.2
  2,000'         |   25° 39'     |   2.1
  2,100'         |   26° 45'     |   2.0
  2,200'         |   27° 50'     |   1.9
  2,300'         |   28° 53'     |   1.8
  2,400'         |   29° 56'     |   1.7
  2,500'         |   30° 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° and find that it was
nearer 35°, 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 châlet 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
to reach:

   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° may be dangerous under
certain conditions, but it may be generally accepted that most long
slopes under 25° 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 Föhn 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 Föhn 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 Süs, 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 châlets by these
insuperable monsters, I have never wished to risk getting into a large
one myself.

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
doubtful conditions.

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 Föhn wind or
rain make the snow heavy, most slopes are pretty safe below a gradient
of 25°.

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
for help.

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
fit it.

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.


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
very envious.

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 Mürren 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
Mürren. The ibex, or steinbock, is used as the Coat of Arms of the
Canton of Graubünden, 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 Mürren. 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 Mürren 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
one's hand.

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
what grows.

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 Graubünden. 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 Bündner Stübli. 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
botany intent.

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
possible comfort.

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° to 30° 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.





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
the Council.



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 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
similar gradient_.


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.


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_.


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 consists of three parts, which must all be
passed in the same season, and should, if possible, be judged by the
same Judges.

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
continuous turns_.

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.


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_.


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
same day.

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.


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
difficult ground_.

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
first-class runner._.

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.


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.


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.


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
Ambulance Sledge
Attractions of Ski-ing

Bernese Oberland

Care of Equipment
Cost of Ski-ing Holiday
Cutting the Track

Dangerous tracks
Discarded Skis, disposal of

Elements of Ski-ing
Equipment List

Fex Thal
Finding the Way
First Aid Equipment
Foot plates

Graubunden or Grisons

History of Ski-ing

Inn Valley
Iron for waxing

Julier Pass
Jungfrau Joch


Lap Thong
Lifting a Ski

Mending Outfit
Muottas Muraigl

Nursery Slopes


Para Iron
Putting on Skis

Rettungs Chef
Rhone Valley
Right of Way
Runaway Skis

Search Parties
Side Slipping
Side Stepping
Signals of Distress
Ski-ing Centres
Skins (Seal)
Spare Binding
Spare Clothing
Spare Ski Tip
St. Moritz
Straight Running
Summer Ski-ing

  Third Class
  Second Class
  First Class
Toe Irons

Uphill Work


Wind Jacket


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ski-running" ***

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