Balz Müller is known for taking foiling to new levels; here he tells us of his latest escapade in the Swiss Alps – foiling high altitude waters in freezing low temperatures!
Words Balz Müller // Photos Fabian Gattlen & Chris Czadilek
As a windsurfing pro you are constantly chasing summer. But this year, typically Swiss, I went skiing instead in the Alps at the famous summer foil windsurfing paradise of Silvaplana. During the first gondola ride up to Corvatsch, Silvaplana’s local mountain, I cheerfully discovered a small pool had formed in a frozen lake, created by a wild mountain creek. It was a no-brainer as soon as I saw it, I needed to swap my snowboard for a foil board, the challenge to sail it was on! Luckily I had all my windsurf equipment with me in my van; all I needed now was some wind!
A few days later a stormy north wind started to blow, shutting down the ski lifts but giving me the green light to go sail. The mission was on! So I walked to the lake in my wetsuit and rigged my equipment full of excitement. The nature around the lake was mystically beautiful; this was going to be a session to remember one way or another! After only a few seconds on the water though I realized that this was not an easy task. The boom froze instantly and always wanted to slip through my hands. The sail became a stiff, heavy object; it felt almost impossible to pump it. On top of that, the water on the frozen lake was unreadable. The only way to see the gusts was by looking for blown along snow and by the time I had spotted the snow the gust had usually already pushed me abruptly into the water! One gust of wind threw me off my foil flight path and directly onto the ice, which I then fell through, ending up under the sail. It is truly a nightmare to swim under frozen water. Up to this point I never thought it would ever be too cold for a windsurfing session, but sailing in temperatures below zero degrees Celsius taught me a valuable lesson – I need a heated boom!