Author Archives: Hans Solmssen

About Hans Solmssen

I am a professional mountain guide living in Verbier, Switzerland. I grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii after my father moved to Hawaii to teach at Hawaii Preparatory Academy. He created a horse program at this high school, located in the middle of the largest, privately owned cattle ranch in the US. Horses were a major part of my life, even playing polo for a few years. I moved to northern Vermont to go to school, and discovered skiing. Little did I know, this would become my life's passion: guiding friends and clients over the mountains around the world on skis and foot. I moved to Verbier, Switzerland in 1982, and entered the Swiss guide's program in '88. I received my UIAGM "pin" 3 years later in 1991. I have two kids, Anya and Kevin.

End of Indian Summer – Early Winter – Avalanche Awareness

Our indian summer is coming to an end. A deep depression moved over us yesterday, starting with strong Foehn winds of over 200km/hr., then depositing 27cm of fresh snow here in Verbier last night. What a change, and it looks like winter is on its way. Yabba Dabba Doo!

We profited with this last blast to hike into our Val de Bagnes with Cherries and Stephan. These two have been getting close to mother nature for years from their base here in Verbier. Stephan is a professional mountain guide and Cherries a professional accompagnatrice de montagne. Going out hiking with her is a while new experience. She stripped the bark off a tiny root for me to eat, which provided an amazing amount of flavour and water. Picking tiny leaves and flowers, she was a wealth of information on so may aspects of our environment. It was overwhelming. They have started taking people far and wide, to not only hike and climb, but discover the wonders of nature. Their latest, the Selvaggio Blu on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, looks like one of the most dramatic hikes around. Send them a note to get on next year's wonderful trip in the spring.

I will again offer a series of avalanche courses starting in late November and early December. Have a look at the avalanche awareness page for some preliminary dates that may work for you. It's real fun, hands on stuff, that helps you understand how the snow pack develops over the winter and what to look out for. Hope to see you soon in the snow!

Greenland Heliskiing

It's that time again. With so much fun skiing, and little time to blog, here's a quick note from Geneva airport to say that skiing in the alps is still super fine, especially on the south side where there's still lots of snow.

I'm off for three weeks to Greenlandic polar powder and corn. I hope to update a wee bit from there. It's snowing there now and I'm so looking forward to being in Kangaamiut again.

Happy trails!!!

The Summer Haute Route Glacier Trek

I have just returned from one of the finest summer Haute Route's I have ever done. Thanks to Meteo Suisse's pessimistic forecast and our Friday departure from Chamonix, we found ourselves virtually alone the whole way. Conditions remain excellent, with snow still covering the glaciers on the steep, higher sections. Climbing the last 200 meters to Berthol was a dream without crampons to the ladders. There is still have space available for the last Haute Route of the season, in a week. (September 9- 15) Please send me a note if you would like to join.

The last few weeks have seen perfect weather almost every day. 0 degrees was above 4000 meters, so it was hot, and the sky showed an intense, bright blue above these alpine peaks. Visiting the less popular peaks and valleys with wonderful people, who appreciated the solitude, was enlightening. These past seven days with the Kamendys, who seemed to recognize every detail along the way, gave me an appreciation for people who are not out to climb the most popular routes, but rather the less frequented areas in these Alps. The week before with Ton, climbing the Arete de la Gouille on the Mont Velan, was another one of those very special climbs, alone, slowly, appreciating every move and whisper of change.

Autumn is in the air. It's cool in the shade and dark at 6. What weather is in store for us, as we look forward to winter? I'm happy to enjoy these next snow free months, perhaps another 2 of pure rock and sailing. Then a bit of ice and some early skinning above Verbier. Enjoy!

Verbier Opens for skiing

Televerbier opened the lifts to Attelas yesterday, November 2. There were lots of skiers out and about. What a novelty to ski on packed snow! I opted instead for a wander up to Gentianes today. It was super warm with 4C at 2000m. I needed only a short sleeved shirt to get me above the Cabane de Mont Fort where the wind started to puff. The snow was humid even at 3000m on the steep, southern aspects. Have a look at the low res shots I took on the way up to get an idea of what conditions were like today.

The forecast calls for this foehn to stop tomorrow, then another moderate dump on this baked base. That could make things quite skiable!