That's the Spirit

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That's The Spirit

Hoisting a few after a long day of skiing is a time-honored tradition—especially in Europe, where that hoisting tends to begin at lunch. And it never hurts if your après bar has ski-friendly décor. Not satisfied with tacking antique wooden skis on the walls of his bar, an inventive entrepreneur in the Swiss ski resort of Mürren has taken ski ambience to its logical conclusion: He built a bar inside an old cable car. So as you sip a beer at one of the pine-log tables, you can glimpse one of skidom's most dramatic mountain panoramas, the one for which Mürren is justifiably famous. Not a bad way to knock back a drink.

Mürren is perched on a shelf far above its sister resort of Wengen, opposite views of jagged Alps—among them the fabled Eiger and the 13,642-foot Jungfrau. The scenery is glorious enough to lure thousands of summer guests, and, one long-ago winter, it served as backdrop for the ski-themed James Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Mürren's car-free village has plenty of Old World charm, and the skiing isn't too shabby, especially the classic black run down the Schilthorn, a prominent summit.

One thing the resort has never been famous for, however, is nightlife. The village's only après bar used to be housed inside a 30-foot diameter Plexiglas igloo on the rear sun deck of the Hotel Jungfrau. When the hotel found the igloo to be more trouble than it was worth, the town was left with no real après hub. Cue igloo-regular Jens Biedermann, a ski instructor with Skischule Mürren. Biedermann located an old cabin from a 1960s—era cable car—it was being used in a children's playground in the Swiss city of Langenthal—and had it transported back to Mürren at his own expense, finally settling it into place on the Jungfrau's deck using a Russian cargo helicopter.

The cabin, 18 feet long and 10 feet wide, is outfitted with a wooden bar and log tables, and can hold about 35 patrons. Biedermann patched a few holes in the roof, piped in rock music and opened the bar to the public in the spring of 2005. And though this cable car will never again leave the ground, views out its windows still make you dizzy. Especially after a few pints of Appenzeller.


In 1907, Hannes Schneider was hired as a ski instructor in Austria’s Arlberg region, four ski areas spread over six villages.  There, he began developing the Arlberg technique: the modern-day parallel turn.  Over the next few years, Schneider smashed the notion of skiing as cautious step turns.  It became about speed and flow.  And the Arlberg began drawing skiers who wanted to experience it for themselves.  Little has changed.  Since 1999, Swedish photographer Mattias Fredriksson has shot in the Arlberg at least once a year.  He goes for the suffocating powder, narrow tree fields, and cliff-dotted terrain.  But he also goes to pay respects to the tracks laid down before him.  “Hannes Schneider showed people from all around the world the parallel turn,” says Fredriksson.  “I skied with Pep Fujas, Henrik Windstedt, and Sean Pettit in the same area he taught in.  that was pretty cool for me.”  The photos that follow, all of them Fredriksson’s, are a tribute to the area, its history, and skiing as we know it. Pictured: Stina Jakobsson above the village of Zug.

St. Anton, Austria

Inbounds descents down powderfields up to five miles long dump you in the middle of the Tyrolean frescoes and church steeples of a too-cute ski village.

Sunny in Switz 1

It's Always Sunny in Switzerland, Part 1

Skiing’s new columnist Tim Neville uprooted himself and his pregnant wife from their home in Bend, Oregon, and moved to Switzerland to ski. He gives us his story in six installments. Here is his first.