The Canton of Grisons is known for its winter sport opportunities and famous ‘Aprés Ski’ fun. But the jollity and high spirits of the tourists is deceptive: for local wildlife the cold climate and abundant snow means a constant and bitter fight for survival. Animals like the ibex, marmots and the European adder have all developed different strategies specifically to survive the harsh alpine winter.
Marmots work hard all summer to feed incessantly and lay down enough fat reserves to pass the cold season in hibernation. But this is not to be confused with a refreshing night’s sleep: far from it. This is more like a life-threatening emergency state. Scientists have found out that marmots repeatedly need to come round from their hibernation and have a proper sleep if they are to survive the hostile winter at all.
Ibex, too, have surprising ways of getting through winter. Even though they live in the high mountains year-round, they don’t appear to like snow at all and prefer to avoid it at all cost. In the cold of the winter nights, their body temperature decreases to save energy – their legs now only measure a meagre 15 degrees. While this would mean certain death from exposure for other animals, it allows the ibex to manage its energy requirements and survive here.
These and other astonishing winter-stories lie at the heart of this film, illustrated with stunning and captivating images that bring the impressive wildlife and spectacular scenery to life. Breath-taking aerials give us a bird’s-eye view of remarkable landscapes while amazing locations even take us on excursions below the ice.
But even the toughest winter is over at some point and gives respite to fauna and flora. This is when chamois seem to express their joy at the return of spring with wild leaps and bounds. Marmots, on the other hand, have no time for such extravagance: their summer is so short, that the males waste no time and sometimes even mate with females that haven’t come round from their hibernation yet. For them, spring and summer are nothing more than a chance to prepare for their next fight for survival in the tough winter months of Grisons.