Travel

January 22, 2014

Belalp Hexe 2014, a most bewitching ski competition

Click to enlarge

B

elalp is a little village located above Brig in the Swiss canton of Valais. It is the ideal starting point for winter sports with over 60km (37 miles) of slopes as well as trails for winter hikes and cross-country skiing. In the summer, it offers a wide range of hikes or alpine tours in the Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Belalp Hexe

In 1983, the Ski Club of Belalp created the Belalp Hexe (Belalp Witch) ski racing event paying homage to the legend of a witch of the region who murdered her husband and was burned at the stake. The idea was to create a popular race during the calm period in January between Christmas and the Swiss school holiday week which is spread over February depending of the region.

The largest and most traditional of the races, the Witches’ Descent, is accessible to all wishing to compete on a challenging race course with 12km (7.5 miles) in length and an altitude difference of 1800m (5900 ft). There are some flat sections, but good skiers can reach 140km/h (86 mph).

Back in 1983, it started with just 300 competitors. Today, the event requires 300 volunteers, helpers and rescuers to welcome over 1500 competitors from all over Europe.

Witches’ Descent day

Click to enlarge

On January, 18th 2014, the witches’ descent of the 32nd edition of this event took place.

Click to enlarge

The gathering point for those coming with public transports is to take the train to Brig. Those unaware of the competition can be surprised at the train station seeing quite a few sorcerers and witches as if they would be coming out of a Harry Potter book. The trip continues aboard a coach bringing competitors and spectators to Blatten, the bottom station of the cable car to Belalp.

The weather for the day was not ideal; a cloud cover turned the landscape grey on grey. The day started with the “normal” ski competition. Every 12 seconds one of the racers starts on the demanding course. As in every similar competition, only the time is taken into account for the ranking. This race ended close before midday and was immediately followed by a totally different race.

While the normal race was going on, a chair lift brought up the competitors for the Witches’ descent: sorcerers and witches in colorful costumes with brooms. This is certainly the wildest ski competition of the Alps.

Click to enlarge

It is the pilgrimage angle of the witches on their brooms skiing from the top of Belalp to the finish line that is key in this race. Time is no longer an important factor in the race. The majority of these witches need several hours to finish the race. Not even all of the witches reach the finish line on time. It is said that some just evaporate or fly away to the white, snow covered mountains of Belalp. The entertainment value of the Belalp Hexe is the winning factor of the day. The witches make quite a few stops along the slope to entertain the other participants and the public. A jury situated along the track evaluates the originality of the chosen topic of the witches, their costumes, their makeup, the theatrical quality of their performances as well as their skills on skis.

The Belalp Hexe is a highly entertaining event for everyone. It is perfectly well organized and I am hoping to cover it again next year, but with snowshoes to make it easier to move along the track and hopefully sunny weather in the afternoon.

See you there next year for the witches ski race on January, 17th 2015.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share


About the Author

Dominique Schreckling
Dominique Schreckling
IPA Staff ID: 06617 • I live in the french speaking part of Switzerland, near Lake Geneva. I am a freelance photojournalist focusing mainly on events photography (music festivals, sports events and trade shows) and travel photography. An overview of my photographic work over the last few years can be seen under www.bydoms.com.




 
Article Feed
 

 

New York Times Travel Show 2019-NYC

2019 NY Times Travel Show...At IPA and IMPress Magazine we are all about travel. Our sister company Travel Pavilion, is our travel agency business.  Our fantastic website offers our original articles, photos, and videos fr...
by Len Rapoport
0

 
 

Make Healthy “Georgie Meatloaf” For Your Dog 2019

Our recipe for the healthiest and freshest dog food on the internet. We call it Georgie Meatloaf after our dogs name and it has been tested by over 39,000 readers and viewers of our popular YouTube video. Find out how you can ...
by Len Rapoport
1

 
 

PhotoPlus 2018, The Photo Industry Evolves

PDN PhotoPlus Expo 2018 showcased new and exciting photo and video gear. This year we filmed part of our video with our iPhone 8+ and a Rode Mobile Interview Kit.
by Len Rapoport
0

 

 

Just Bought A 2018 Kia Optima-Find Out Why

As a writer, photojournalist and editor of four online publications, I am always looking for new content to publish on our websites.  Since I don’t drive many miles each year and had two older vehicles a 2001 Lexus a...
by Len Rapoport
0

 
 

2018 QuickChek Festival of Ballooning

2018 QuickChek Festival of Ballooning   ” 2018 QuickChek Festival of Ballooning” is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America and is the premier family entertainment attrac...
by Len Rapoport
0

 

 
NY Auto Show Spokeperson

NY Auto Show 2018 300+HD Photos+Video

? Our 10th Year At The New York International Auto Show I can honestly say it seemed as if this years show was the biggest, baddest auto show we have attended.  Luckily we have the opportunity to attend the show during the...
by Len Rapoport
0

 



0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


You must be logged in to post a comment.


 
%d bloggers like this: