The promise was for better weather today. It never happened. Instead we found ourselves, for nearly two hours, effectively marooned by a lift failure.
There was blue sky, in patches, mid-morning. So we got organized, got out the door, and up the lift to Spielboden. The weather was already showing signs of greying-out. Thinking that we would give the weather the benefit of the doubt to sort itself out, with blind faith in the forecast that promised an improving picture, we stopped off for a coffee. Things were not looking good, but having come so far we elected to pick up the second inter-connecting lift up to Langfluh for a close-up view of the terminal sector of the Fee glacier. There were few people up there. The cloud base was dropping and we stayed no more than five minutes, the place was almost deserted. The glacier up there is not necessarily a pretty sight – the bare ice is a tired grey, although sunlight would pick out some wonderful pale shades of blue and green in the crevasses. The residual surface-lying snow is whitish, tinged yellow, probably by wind-borne Saharan sand. I grabbed a couple of shots – can you see a seagull diving left centre?
We headed back down to Spielboden to pick up the second lift back down. There was a problem. The small four-person gondolas were being withdrawn and parked. No-one was heading down. Lift attendants out here are not multi-lingual and I don’t speak German. A collective effort with other perplexed tourists established that there was a problem with the lift, which would be shut down for a period of time – but in the meantime, gondolas were left in mid-transit which meant that there were people swaying in clear air for over thirty minutes with no communication – I’m glad it didn’t include us. Progressively the remaining marooned gondolas reached the top station and the line was completely cleared. Meanwhile all of us who were ‘marooned’ monopolized what is actually a rather smart restaurant, lingering over beers, wines and coffees awaiting events.
To walk down would take ninety minutes and by now it was raining and we were in the clouds. And there was no news of how long we would remain up there. Either we waited or we walked down – but rather stupidly, trusting the forecast, we were not carrying full waterproofs. And there were small children and elderly people to be considered. Worst case scenario? Helicopter rescue. Hmm. We waited and waited.