National Geographic : 1965 Sep
The Alps: Man's Own Mountains three languages: Lenzerheide, Tiefencastel, Pisciadello, Pontresina, and the neighboring villages of La Punt-Chamues-ch and S-chanf. In the lower Engadine we climbed the high shelf above the River Inn to Guarda, which retains the look and pace of yesteryear so remarkably that people call it the museum village of Romansh land. The horse-and-hay farmers who live here can raise a hand with Roman imperiousness when a mere auto gets in the way of their hay-cart chariots. They stable their stock in the basement. A few miles away, at Samedan in the upper Engadine, the versatile Alps offer what many consider Europe's finest conditions for the modern sport of sailplaning (pages 386-7). I took a spin in one of these graceful motorless craft with pilot Jakob Ehrensperger. First he explained the dynamics. "The warm wind comes through Maloja Pass from Italy, lasting from about 11 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. nearly every day in summer, and rises along the low mountain. There the updrafts take over and elevate you to snow and glacier levels, if you're lucky." Jakob strapped me in, gave a signal, and the winch tow pulled us high into the air in seconds. He cast loose and maneuvered for elevation. I became well acquainted with a hotel on Muottas Muragl, the low mountain, as we passed it, circling again and again, each time a little higher and a little dizzier. Gradually the winds became stronger and gustier. The plane creaked and groaned. The wind roared like an express train. Suddenly we dropped 100 feet. "We'll try again," Jakob yelled confidently. "Not on my account," I mumbled through Forbidding stairway of tortured ice, Switz erland's Morteratsch Glacier creeps relent lessly down into the Bernina Valley. Its melt waters flow to the River Inn, thence to the Danube, and finally to the Black Sea. Heli copter pilot holds his bubble-nosed craft above the frozen cascade. Blue radiance bathes a man-made grotto hewn into the side of the Rh6ne Glacier near Furka Pass. Each spring a new entrance must be cut, because a snow blanket blocks the old one in winter. The 8-mile-long glacier, one of the largest in Switzerland, ends abruptly in an icefall that becomes a source of the Rhone River. white lips, but he apparently didn't hear me. The third try got us over the invisible hump. Then we easily sailed high above the snows and glaciers of the Bernina Alps. I reminded myself that no motor had put us here-just air, wings, and a good pilot. St. Moritz Stages a Fiery Celebration Unwinding from the thrill of this flight, I spent a quiet evening in St. Moritz strolling the Wasserfallpromenade with my wife. From this path along the hill behind town, we gazed down on the renowned patriarch of all sum mer and winter resorts. Neat buildings hugged the Post-Platz and lined the crooked streets leading toward a curious leaning tower-the only remaining fragment of the original village. Turrets and towers of elegant hotels rose beside the sail dotted lake. All around, peaks etched the sky. WALTERMEAYERSEDWARDS(OPPOSITE) AND WILLIAM EPPRIDGE © N.G.S.