Imagine driving on the motorway. Everything is just flashing by, you are annoyed by all the traffic on the fast lane. Driving on a winded mountain pass road, on the other hand, feels very different. You drive slowly, consciously. You take in all the stunning views, you relax. Well, Pischa is the quiet country road among the skiing areas in and around Davos. No guardrails, no minimum speed. Pischa has returned to its roots, to its original state. This is where people come to get in touch with alpine nature, and to try new things.
Less is more
André Kindschi is waiting for the cable car that will take him up to Pischa. It will be a few more minutes until the next gondola arrives, so the snowsports instructor, forester and ranger uses the time to talk to the two young men next to him. They have mountain bikes with extremely wide tires which they will use to ride down to the valley - on the snow. It is their first time on fatbikes, and Pischa is the perfect place for a test ride.
Also on the cable car are snowshoe hikers, a bunch of freeriders and some regular hikers. We ride up to 2,483 metres above sea level, to a place that is a far cry from your average skiing area. All lifts are closed down, and instead of a labyrinth of slopes there are marked hiking routes and just one narrow groomed ski slope that leads across the smooth terrain. A cross-country ski run is close-by. Great powder snow slopes await the freeriders.
Today, André came up to lead his snowshoe hiking guests through the powder snow back to the valley. Starting from the top down is a smart choice for first-timers. Not only is it easier to go down a mountain, it is also much more beautiful to look at the mountains and the landscape in all its glory instead of staring at the hill as you do when you’re hiking up. And even when the sky clouds over there is a lot to see around here. André and his group watch the fatbikers set off; later, some airboarders pass by, lying head first on their inflatable sledges.
A playground in the skies
André has been doing this for years, guiding guests through the mountains around Davos. He loves the fact that Pischa has become a place of tranquillity. As someone who has left a career in extreme sports behind him, André particularly appreciates the relaxed vibe of his workdays today. Apart from his job as a snowsports instructor, he curates an educational trail in Davos and works as a woodworker in the summer months. As he trudges through the snow he stops every now and then to listen and look for ptarmigans which often hide under the mountain pines. It’s these moments of close encounter with nature that make such a hike extra special for everyone, including André.
A mountain discovers its personality
The Pischa skiing area, which is generally safe from avalanches, is perfect for hikers who love to spend time on sunny, snowy hills without being bothered by the hustle and bustle of areas with groomed slopes and regular lift service. Pischa has also become a popular playground for fans of alternative sports like fatbiking, airboarding or kitesurfing. And every now and then, people with completely new ideas show up at Pischa manager Andreas Fluor’s office. A foldable sledge for sledding in powder snow is displayed in a window at the valley station of the cable car: The snowbraker. It was invented by a guy from Germany and is now available for renting and testing on Pischa. It is this kind of new approach to traditional winter sports that the brains behind Pischa are after, not the construction of new lifts. They want the mountain to develop its very own, unique profile.
In the cosy Mäderbeiz mountain hut, steaming bowls of barley soup are served to André and his guests who came here after their stress-free hike. Before returning to the valley, they sit and eat and talk about what they have seen today. There were no ptarmigans. But a mountain being allowed to be just that. A mountain, and nothing else.
March 28, 2017