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April 15th was a sunny, hot day in Switzerland including in the Simmental valley and Saanen land! The week before, a two day logisitics – its easy and accessible. Under your own steam, you can have the most complete, all day, fun, play day outside. If you like to back country ski and kayak, this is the adventure for you! This year, the weather was actually hot – nearly 21C at the bottom of the mountain where I started. Though I dressed light for the skin up the mountain, in no time, I was really sweating. Juerg had made sure to tell me to be skiing down by 11am, and I was keeping the time in mind. As I got to the top, I did not have much time to spare on Juerg’s clock, so I drank my tea, took my skins off and headed down. Carton snow turned into really nice Spring snow and great turns all the way down and through the changing alpine landscape.

The 15th Annual Berner Oberland Biathlon
Once the ski leg was finished, I had a short window to get my kayaking gear, rehydrate (after the mega amount of sweating), take care of the donkeys, and organize my shuttle. Juerg offered to drive my shuttle which was great too. Off we went to run shuttle and Juerg dropped me at the put in and waved good bye! Just as I was walking my boat to the bank, another local kayaking friend, Patrick, happened to be walking by and asked if I had checked out the gorge because trees were down. I assured him I had – but because I was by myself, I was planning to be extra careful – paying attention to all the junk in the river I could see and giving it a wide birth.

The water level was perfect and the warm sun made the Saanen so inviting. A trail runs alongside the river but once you are in the two gorges, you are far from any signs of the outside world and that is also where most of the wood accumulates – hence the need to be extra careful! The Saanen has fun rapids the whole way down – nothing too hard but lots of good moves to make and some good play at the higher water levels (though I was being a little conservative this day)! And it is an incredibly beautiful and intimate river section to paddle. It was a bit of speed run down, but it was still really fun. Getting to the bottom, I looked up at the snow covered Vidementte mountain from the river soaking up all the amazing beautiful contrasts and the best of Spring, knowing I would sleep very well!!

Top of the world
down pour morphed into a big snow storm. Then, the sun came out and the temperatures warmed up – really warmed up! Snow started melting and rivers started rising. This year, the challenge was where the ski tour part of the biathlon would be held – what ski tour would have enough snow and also be safe! Part two, the paddle, was likely to be good on any local run with all the melt water. However, the Saanen river run did have a lot of wood in it so it was important to really pay attention. For the first time in a long time, I would be doing the whole biathlon alone!

The 15th Annual Berner Oberland Biathlon
Over the years, I love and look forward to Springtime in Switzerland (all year long). Within a very small geographical distance, you can ski a fabulous back country run, and paddle a really fun and beautiful river in the same day without crazy shuttles and insane

The 15th Annual Berner Oberland Biathlon