Ski Trip to Kandersteg mid 1960s

Which year was it – 1965 or 66? – I can’t remember for sure but what I do remember was going on my first overseas school trip. The trip was going to be what was in those days a rarity – skiing in Switzerland.

When we were told of the trip I begged my parents to allow me to go and they argued about the costs but eventually agreed. During the following term, all those who were to go on the trip were given special exercises by Mr “Body” Reynolds in preparation. The exercises were designed to strengthen our legs and consisted of sitting against a wall with the upper portion of the legs parallel to the ground – sounds easy but after only a few moments we all knew which muscles were being trained. There were others but I forget exactly what. In those days there were no special skiing outfits, we all took anoraks, woolly hats, jeans and thick socks. And so it was, a handful of very excited boys started out on their adventure which started with a coach trip to Dover where our ship was waiting to take us to Calais where on arrival we boarded a sleeper train for out trip to Kandersteg.

Little sleep was actually had on the train where we were eight to a compartment sleeping on pull down beds called couchettes – too much talking and excitement but I clearly recall the ding ding ding ding of the bells as we passed crossings and stations – a sound unlike that heard on a UK railway. Also we saw no steam trains – the whole system appeared to be electrified.

When morning eventually came we were approaching the French border and customs boarded to see our documents. I think we changed locomotives at Basel then continued our on into Switzerland where in the distance we soon saw in the far distance the peaks of the Alps. It seemed to take forever until we started actually climbing and then it was a relentless grind forever upwards though the mountains until we arrived at Kandersteg – our final destination.

We were ferried by bus? to our hotel – a huge wooden building in typical alpine style – it was warm and cosy and we were shown to our rooms, four to a room in bunks. Later we had to all troop down to the town to be fitted with our ski equipment and to be issued with our pocket money in Swiss francs. By the time we returned to our hotel we were all exhausted but excited about what would happen the next day. We spent the evening in the hotel bar where Mr and Mrs Reynolds and the other staff (but can’t remember who they were – was Mr Oeken or Mr Goff amongst them?) did their best to be foster parents to a bunch of tired but extremely excited youngsters many of whom were having a quick beer behind their backs.

The next day was amazing – the air was so clear we could see mountain tops which were miles away but they looked like rock on the tops of nearby hills. We all dressed up and were led to meet our ski tutor – an elderly man called Hans who showed us how to wax our skis and put them on. The rest of the day was spent practicing the herring bone accent of the gentle slop by our hotel and then falling off as we attempted to ski down again.

Over the next few days we all progressed and in the evenings some of us would venture our to the local bars. On one night a group of us, including a boy called Westwood from Tulk walked up the valley until we found a bar called Chez Max where we decided to pop in for a beer. We were made welcome and were soon enjoyed our illicit drinks when the local band started to play House of the Rising Sun seemingly in recognition of their English Guests. We all cheered and from then on Chez Max was the place to go.

One boy Tugwell I think (or was it Little Smith?), from East had an accident whilst there – and arrived back from the hospital with Mr Reynolds covered in furs in a sleigh drawn by a horse – which made the rest of us quite envious. When we stayed in the hotel in the evenings we were treated to tricks by the hotel owner one of which I remember was putting coins into a full glass of water without spilling it. Somehow he managed to get about forty small coins into the glass. I also learned how to open a continental style beer bottle by apparently flicking to the top off with my finger – a trick which even today amuses and bewilders many of my friends.

On our final day were taken by ski lift up into the mountain and next to a gleaming glacier where we were to do a real ski run. First we ascended by ski lift then by T bar lift which proved very difficult for many of us. Once at the top at first the skiing seemed easy but as we descended it became harder and many of us were glad when it eventually finished.

The next morning before we left we were all presented with a book to record of our achievements, a metal badge and a cloth badge as well. I think I still have mine somewhere but cannot find them at the moment. We then departed to England. At Basel we had to change trains and there were a few scary moments when a few boys who were loaded up with cigarettes and cigars were stopped by customs staff, but by pretending they did not understand what was being said they were eventually allowed to pass without having to give up their loads of goodies.

The train ride home was uneventful apart from us all smoking the pipes and cigarettes we had brought as souvenirs – even the staff turned a blind eye to that. And so ended my first school trip abroad – can anyone else recall that event? – I must have forgotten more than I can actually remember - but it was fun. 



I was there, too. I remember my parents couldn't afford the ski-pants they waterproofed a pair of jeans.....that turned out as stiff as cardboard! I also remember drinking dry vermouth. The bottle trick was good....bruised fingers for a long while. There was a group of girls from Wales, too....who were lots of fun...:)

Wanted - photos from the Kandersteg trip

Having been in touch with Graham Reynolds recently I discover he no longer has any photos of the skiing trip. Is there anyone out there with the odd photo of those days in Kandersteg? .


I may have one or two....I'll check....just saw this post!


J have found all 8 pics I took....have sent to Nigel. Took them with my "brownie #1"...which I still have. Mr and Mrs Reynolds are in one pic...near the church. There is also one of the Kandersteg train station. I have only sent four of the eight...but can send others if wanted. Best Ian (Snail)

Photos now received

Ian has now kindy provided the photos which can be seen in our Gallery - if anyone else has more photos please let us know - Thanks Josh Lovegrove - It manager

Pictures of the trip by Ian Singleton

Some more memories of Kandersteg

The excellent photographs of Kandersteg ski holiday posted by Ian Singleton have brought back happy memories for me and my wife Janet.

I took two trips to Kandersteg and I think these photos were from the first but I am not sure. On both occasions the snow was very good as was the weather.

I, needless to say, have a few personal memories. Initially I was a little apprehensive as I was the only master and organiser but I need not have worried as all the boys behaved - as far as I know!!! Anyway I had no problems to worry about and we all arrived home in one piece. There was a marvellous rapport between all.

I have no doubt that a few things went on that I didn't know about but remembered that I was an "old boy" and I am sure I would have got up to the same tricks!!

Our chalet/hotel was set in a beautiful position in the valley and the proprietor was a Dutchman called Herr Kok. I forget his first name but I certainly didn't call him Kok. He,his wife and staff were very friendly.

Our ski instructor was a great chap in every sense of the word. His name was Fritz Ogi. He was the senior member of the Ogi family who practically ran nearly everything in Kandersteg. One of his relations, Adolf Ogi, became president of Swiss Confederation and has a road named after him.

On Christmas Eve Herr Kok, his chef and another member of staff invited me to play a game of dice called "5000" and the winner of each game was awarded a drink of schnapps by the losers. This game went on until midnight and I had "beginner's luck". I do not know how many rounds I won but it was quite a few to put it mildly. Everything seemed fine until I put my head on the pillow and then it went round and round and round ----. No need to say anything else except that I was read the riot act by my wife the next morning.

Christmas Day was our third day of skiing and Fritz decided to take us up a mountain for the first time! My head still felt terrible but hopefully I put on a brave face. I remember Fritz telling me (as leader of the party) to take up the rear and look after the stragglers. After a very short distance I was the straggler and on my own!! I was to be spurred on however by a wonderful apparition, for as I was resting by the side of the piste I heard a swishing noise coming from behind me. It was a beautiful girl in a tight fitting one piece ski suit. She gave me a smile and continued to glide gracefully down the mountain her hair flowing and her hips moving sensually from side to side. It was a sight for sore eyes and a sore head!! How I wished I could ski like that.

Some way down the mountain I caught up with the group as there had been an accident. One of the boys had slipped over the edge of the piste and could only stop himself from falling down further by parting his legs on either side of a tree. When I arrived Fritz was ready to give him a piggy-back ride down the rest of the way. From this point I was able to keep up with the party. We eventually arrived about an hour late for the Christmas meal.
I forget who the injured boy was but he recovered fairly quickly and was able to continue skiing after a days rest.

So much for Kandersteg. All the other School ski trips were a success but there is one incident I remember on the "New Year" trip to Seefeld in Austria. On New Years Eve itself there was a fantastic firework display in the town. At around 01.00am I checked around the bedrooms to see that all were accounted for but two were missing - I think they were Anders Jacobsen and Mark Lutman. Around 02.00am I began to get a little worried but they turned up shortly afterwards. They had been "chatting up" some girls in another school party elsewhere in the village. I would probably have done the same!!

I did not mean to go on like this but Ian's photos have brought back memories.

Graham Reynolds

Kandersteg Trip - I was there too!

My memories of that first overseas school trip are somewhat hazy after all these years.  

I remember the skiing and achieving the Swiss National Bronze standard by the end of the trip.  But the overiding memory for me was an accident that I had in the hotel.  I was going from the bar area (after a couple of drinks perhaps?) to my room which was down a dark corridor with the door to my room at the end.  Unfortunately, I did not see the step immediately in front of the door, tripped and fell forward putting my arm through the glass panel in the door.  

I was extremely apologetic to the hotel manager, but he was more concerned about the copious amount of blood dripping from my arm so he rushed me into his car and slalomed down the road to a doctor's surgery.  I was ushered into the doctor's room by a very dishy and very poshly dressed assistant.  I struggled to explain to the doctor what had happened in my best schoolboy French and he duly sewed me up.  He seemed somewhat agitated throughout and in a hurry. Having completed the sewing, he then explained that he and his assistant were just on their way to get married and would I come back the next day for an anti-tetanus injectioin!  Fortunately, he was somewhat more relaxed the next day when administering said jab!

Gary King