Workshop 2014

October 2014: Golzern, Maderaner Tal, Switzerland
Our second annual European Nano-Optics workshop was held in the lovely Maderaner Tal, a quiet side valley on the Gotthard route. After hiking to the mountain village of Golzern, we spent three days there, eating delicious local food, bonding, brainstorming, team building, and of course some work with great scientific and non-scientific presentations by multiple speakers!


Day 1:
The group takes two different approaches to reach the lodge in Golzern, but all start out at Zürich HB with reserved seats in a train to Erstfeld.

Part of the group opted for a hike along the panorama trail of Chilcherberge, taking the bus to the beautiful village of Silenen, where they are planning to take a gondola to Chilcherberg. What a surprise when we realize that the gondola is mainly used for livestock and hay, but can also transport precious cargo aka humans!
Markus and Sarah seem to be quite comfortable...
...while Karol and Barbara look a bit cramped in.
Martin and Loïc are enjoying a royal way of traveling up the mountain...
...because the panorama from the gondola is rewarding!

After a little less than a three hour hike, we are arriving in Golzern, a small cluster of houses that are only occupied during the summer months.

The trail leads across a steep ravine...
...but thankfully there was a suspension bridge that led across.
We gather for a group picture during our lunch break.
Our guest professor, Sang-Hyun Oh is revelling in his very first alpine hiking experience...
...while the girls in the group are "old" pros.
Martin found a seat in the shade...
...while Karol soaks up the sun unhindered through the top of this head!
Finally, the destination comes into view: "Berggasthaus Edelweiss"
Everybody enjoys the refreshments on the patio with a spectacular view of the Windgällen mountains.

As afternoon group "excursion" we are hiking around Golzernsee. A few ones brave the chilly waters of the lake and decide to swim to the floating platform.

Afterwards, everybody enjoys a hearty dinner prepared by Adrian Tresch and his family, followed by two entertaining, educational and very enjoyable non-scientific presentations.

The following talks were presented throughout the workshop:



Per Adamson - Expert bee keeper from New York
"The Buzz About Bees"

Xavier Palou - Expert castellers from Catalunya

" Human towers: Strength, balance, courage and wisdom"

Lukas Novotny - Expert photonics chief from Züri
" Pound-Drever-Hall Frequency Stabilization"

Palash Bharadwaj - Expert photon emission scorcerer from India
" Topological Insulators"

Jan Renger - Expert nonlinear properties wizard from Germany
" Bose-Einstein Condensation"




Day 2 : Today is work day! We have several talks presented in the morning, followed by a group challenge to build a human pyramid. 

While Lukas and Martin are still talking science...
...the rest of the gang is trying to stall the experiment "human pyramid"...
...until Sarah takes charge and the driver seat!
After a quick lesson "How to climb up somebody's behind and back", we're practicing Layer #1 and #2.
With the stunning beauty of the Maderaner Tal as our practice grounds,...
...we manage Layer # 3. Hard to believe but we did it!
Click on the image to see the video as proof of our accomplishment, wobbly, but successful!

Proudly we gather for a group photo with a stunning background.


We wrap up the beautiful day with a hike to the Windgällen hut and a campfire after dinner to roast marshmallows. 

The Maderaner Tal is a box canyon framed by the "Windgällen" mountains as a stunning background...
...and some cute "Gartenzwerge" in the front yard of one of the Golzern chalets.
Cheers to accomplishing the hike up to the hut, located at the foot of the Große Windgällen
At 2032m above sea level or 6666ft the air is thin, but the thirst is large!
Marshmallows imported from our very own Expert Importeur Barbara are a hit at night :-)
Lukas shows off his S'mores S'kills.

Day 3:
After another delicious breakfast, we say Goodbye to Adrian and his family and checkout of "Gasthaus Edelweiss". Some of us return to Zurich, while a smaller group of mountain aficionados takes on a challenging two-day hike with an overnight stop at the Camona di Cavardiras, a mountain hut at 2649m. Even though the hiking was at points very taxing and exhausting, it was an unforgettable tour in the solitude of the Swiss mountains. Below you'll find a few impressions from the tour.

Rise and shine. It's early in the morning, when we take off... the hike is supposed to take 8 hours.
Our guest speaker Per is a happy hiker..
...and always ready to take a great picture!
We pass through Hinterbalm, a typical cluster of alpine huts, ...
...that is only inhabited during the summer months for cheese making.
We're gaining altitude and slowly losing the variety in vegetation.
Another step incline leads us by the Bocki waterfall to a high plateau called Brunniboden.
Here we take a well-deserved lunch break... refuel our energy for the second half of the hike, all the way to the glacier in the distance!
Barbara is enjoying a moment of solitude and stunning views...
...while Lukas looks like he conquered the top of the world.
Slowly but surely, we leave the tundra behind and enter the glacial landscape.
Group huddle before tackling the next obstacle,...
... the "Klettersteig", which Karol masters skillfully.
We crossing a huge field of boulders, remnants from the receding glacier...
...before we reach the glacier's tongue.
Last quick break before we hike along the glacier's edge to the Camona di Cavardiras, the hut where we're planning to spend the night.
It almost looks like the day is coming to an end already, but it's only the clouds that are moving in.
We have finally reached our day's goal:
Camona di Cavardiras - 2649 meters above sea level.
The hut is already closed for the season, but there is an emergency shelter, that turns out to be a really nice room with wood-burning stove and ...
...even some drinks left from the summer, which we are clearly enjoying at the end of a long day.
The clouds are now sitting just on top of us or rather we're sitting in the clouds.
After a comfortable night, we gather for a last group picture...
...and get ready for a long descent into the Rhine Valley.
if we thought the first day was tough, we were surprised how steep and long drawn out the way to Disentis was.
Finally, the landscape changes to some vegetation and we're happy to be eventually back in civilization.