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Ah, Spring! We wait for it all year. No matter what’s going on in the world, like for example a pandemic, the eruption of Spring energy, joy of flowers blooming, birds singing, animals jumping around their pastures and warm sunshine, lure us outside to soak up this energy. Its wonderful and feels so good. This year, the pandemic makes it seem even more wonderful. Here in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, Spring also means the promise of another Berner Oberland Biathlon! Yes, that’s right – a once a year special, only interrupted in the last 15 years by the pandemic in 2020! But this year, despite Swiss lock down, the mountains and rivers are open for play.

On Monday, with snow and flow aligning perfectly for the optimum biathlon, I set out at 9am for a ski tour up and down the Teiberg Horn and a paddle on the Saanen. Morning climbing of the mountain on skis means being set up for a perfect ski down on spring snow as soon as the snow warms up a bit. Once down from a Spring-snow ski tour, the melt water is starting to rise and by the time you have had something to eat and drink and have changed your clothes, you are ready for the optimum paddle – this year on the Gorge De Vanille of the Saanen.

With Temperatures reaching 17C or 62F and bright sunshine, it was the perfect day on Monday March 29th. After a good hour and a half hike up the Teirberg horn, a spectacular steep face revealed itself. A tea break at the top, allowed us to soak up the warming sun and views. Then we took our skins off, converted our bindings and boots, and headed down. The snow was perfect spring snow – every turn! Totally spoiling and you could practically hear “The Sound of Music” soundtrack playing in the background. Once at the bottom of the descent, we did a cross country trek ski, walk, jump over streams, return to where we started. The best burger ever awaited us in the parking lot from a fantastic food truck. With the parking lot picnic, no masks were needed and we enjoyed every moment.

Next, I headed home to pick up my boat and paddling gear. Juerg kindly offered to do my shuttle and off we went to the Saanen. On arrival, there was a very good flow. As I had paddled a bunch of times in February and March already, I knew there were some strainers in the river and was on alert for anymore that may have fallen in since the latest big snow storm. With the increased flow, there were more play opportunities but also more things to keep my eyes on. And good thing I did, as two new large strainers appeared in the river – luckily both in places that with the increased flow, it was easier to paddle around. The obstacle course added to the fun and challenge – thankfully just the right amount! Stunning views of the snow- capped peaks could be seen from the river in different places and there was still plenty of snow in the inner gorges despite the signs of spring elsewhere.

Arriving at the car by 4:30pm, I could not stop smiling and only wished that I had more people to share the entire experience with! So, next year, here is an open invitation to anyone reading this to come join me in the Best Berner-Oberland Biathlon! You will have a fantastic day not soon to be forgotten – and you’ll sleep well after – guaranteed!