The next morning, we’re set to complete the Urner by skiing to Engelberg. With the giant rooster comb of Titlis peak towering above us, we drop into another mass of white. Seventy-mile-an-hour winds battered the bivouac the night before, even shattering a water glass in the wee hours when gusts hurled open a heavy window. So we’re not surprised to encounter a nasty wind crust. I’m glad to ride this crud with 110 millimeters underfoot. Then again, Dan’s handling it with his 88-millimeter skis just fine. The next time I ski a multi-day tour in the Alps, I think I’ll bring a compromise ski, maybe Black Diamond Drifts, which are 100 millimeters at the waist yet weigh just seven pounds per pair. These days, even descent-oriented tourers don’t sacrifice much performance by going light.
Swiss downhills are like climbs elsewhere: They seem to grow when you’re not looking. An hour or so of unpredictable snow later, we ski to a footbridge over a thawing river. From there we walk to the parking lot of a scenic tram, call a taxi, and motor down to Engelberg. Then we go our separate ways. At a random station, the train Lee and I ride passes Dan’s. He doesn’t notice us, but we see him: legs splayed, head bowed over his cell phone, tired, with 88-millimeter-wide Birdos Jokers resting beside him.