Today on the blog, we have Monika Blaser (who is also a fellow colleague from my time at FHNW when I was doing my masters; we bumped into each other after a couple of years on social media 🙂 ), who like most of us loves to travel. She and her partner both love the outdoors but due to the current situation were stuck at home and tired of working from their bedroom. To break this monotony they decided to work from the mountains, and today they are here to share this experience with our readers.
From the Chalet to the Slopes
We found an apartment at Riederalp, in the beautiful Aletsch Arena in the Valais. The place is only accessible by the gondola and is connected to Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp. Life is slower up here, as there are no cars and roads are snow-covered. Be it shopping, moving your luggage from point A to point B, or waste disposal – everything has to be done either by foot or with a sled/skis. Snowmobiles (can be ordered as taxis) are another form of transport but are rarely seen. It might seem exciting (from far away) but in reality, it’s quite exhausting – high altitude and sinking feet in the snow that’s all around.
Nevertheless, we knew what we signed up for since we absolutely enjoy being outdoors no matter the season.
Aletsch glacier is the largest glacier and the greatest glacier of the alps. The absolute highlight in the UNESCO world heritage site: You can always have a look at the great Aletsch glacier in the ski arena. 124 km of slopes, 35 installations, 26 winter trails, 5 snowshoe trails, 4 toboggan runs, and 13 snowparks – there is a lot of fun things to do over here!
Having an apartment directly on the slopes has several advantages: we were not just the first people on the tracks every morning but the close proximity allowed us to get back home whenever we wanted – be it for a hot shower or a quick meal. This was quite useful especially since COVID closures are everywhere and takeaways have become a way of life.
Back to Work
Well after a few days of enjoying our home base as a vacation spot, it was time to work (again)! I still remember when we were coming up on the gondola, the driver seemed surprised to see me with my monitor, hey, Ergonomics are super essential to me!
How we made it work:
- The big table in the living room transformed into our workplace quickly
- We still needed to plan our day – I shifted gears between skiing and working on my desk; the close proximity and a clear calendar plan allowed me some flexibility.
- Since most of my stakeholders and clients are also working remotely, it was easier to collaborate.
After a month of living like this, I can safely say that my plan worked, I can call myself a true digital nomad where I can do my job from anywhere provided I have a high-speed internet connection.
Finding an Accomdation
- Since a lot of landlords do not have an online presence; the best option is to stroll around the village and make a note of the phone numbers of the advertised chalets and apartments from the posters stuck around.
- Ask the locals! While going to a bar or restaurant is tricky, an option is to ask the employees from the mountain railways. In most of the tourist regions, you can find that the offices are available either online or through telephone.
- Of course, there are websites! Besides the real estate agents’ websites, you can also find collective pages.
- Private individuals, but this isn’t an easy option. Also, it might be worth checking the town website its-self. You can find a list (sometimes a bit hidden on the site) of long-term available accommodations.
- Furthermore, a lot of hotels are now offering “home office deals” since a lot of people do not want to stay the whole season or year. Their hotel rooms are supplemented with screens, desks, highspeed internet, and printing/scanning is also possible.
- As we were skiing in all weathers, it was often snowing or there was thick fog. One day while on the slopes, the visibility was so bad, that I did not realize that I am leaving the groomed slope and when I wanted to make a turn, I landed upside down in deep snow and got stuck. My partner had to come and dig me out because I couldn’t have possibly done it alone. At that moment it wasn’t funny (we were exhausted), but later we had a hearty laugh about it!
- One of the days I bumped into a couple having a terrible argument cuz one of them did not want to take this path and the other one had no idea that it was going to be so tedious. Even after trying to help and then while walking away, I could hear them argue and I was inwardly grateful that I and my partner had no such arguments on the slopes. It is very natural for things to escalate during extreme conditions.
- For a joint project, both of us were on the same call and the participants kept asking me why the sound quality was so poor! It took us a while to realize that both of us had dialed in and none of us were on mute!
- One morning, when we were about to set off shopping with our backpacks and skis – we noticed that it had snowed all night and there was no way to go/move. By the time the snow clearing teams arrived, it was afternoon and we were visibly knackered.
Wrapping up with some Tips and tricks
- If you’re planning to move your base and work out of the mountains – make sure you get Hi-Speed Internet – the newer buildings are a safe bet as compared to old chalets
- Make sure there is enough space and a good work desk; photos on websites can sometimes be deceptive
- Especially now during covid-times, when all restaurants are only open for take-aways, it is comfortable enough and worth the price to have a ski-in / ski-out apartment.
- It can be expensive – check if you can rent out your ‘normal’ apartment during the time you are away.
- When to ski/when to work – you need to plan your day to save yourself from the guilt!
Monika Blaser is 39 years old and lives with her partner in Bern. She has a Master in business informatics and has been running her own company TactumMotum since 2018, managing and implementing IT and innovation projects. She co-founded BeLikeGrace, a network to bring in more diversity in IT. In her free time, she loves cooking, skiing, and diving the most beautiful lakes and rivers in the world.
Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for our February posts, cuz “self-love” is in the air. Stay tuned to read about body positivity, turning 40 or 50, encouraging children to eat healthier, and many other useful resources.
To read posts from January, click here