Autumn is upon us, the mountains are magical, the air is crisp and you can smell snow. So we ventured down to Andermatt to enjoy it as much as possible.
Pizzo Centrale – 6.9.2014
First up was Pizzo Centrale (2999m) a peak i wanted to do in winter but never got around to do it (yet). During summer it is an enjoyable hike from the Gotthard Pass, passing the big lake of Lago della Sella (2256m). The trail turns a bit more serious after reaching Guspissattel (2888m) and you have to start using your hands to climb the last 100 verticals. From the top you can enjoy the views to all corners of the Gotthard massif including the two glaciers (Guspisfirn & Ober Schatzfirn) covering the northern side of the mountain which i need to come back for with skis in winter.
Schafberg & Albert Heim Hütte – 7.9.2014
I was already on Schafberg (2591m) once with my skis but i never followed the whole ridge to get to the Albert Heim Hütte (2543m). Even though the surrounding peaks were mostly clouded we were still able to enjoy the magnificent views of Galenstock (3586m) and Tiefengletscher which feeds the various creeks that run down to the Furka Pass.
Göscheneralp – 8.9.2014
To give our feet a break from the hiking boots we took out the bikes. From Andermatt (1436m) there is a nice descent down to Göschenen (1102m) through the Schöllenen Gorge. From there there is a really nice trail all the way along the valley to the beautiful Göscheneralpsee (1792m) all the while enjoying the views of the Dammastock (3630m) and surrounding peaks and glaciers. Lunch at the lake and a very nice trail descent back down the valley.
Via Ferrata Diavolo – 9.9.2014
The weather forecast promised rain in the afternoon so we opted for a shorter exercise. Back to the massive granite rocks of Schöllenen Gorge (1405m) and up the ferrata to Tüfelstalboden (1888m). The rain kicked in just as we reached the top but we still enjoyed the easy winding forest trail down to Andermatt.
Sidelhorn – 10.9.2014
On the last day it was time to put the hiking boots back on. We drove to Grimselpass (2164m) and climbed the Sidelhorn (2764m). Very enjoyable hike, we enjoyed mostly sunny weather on top but there was a cold northerly wind and clouds passing by all the time. Great tour to finish off the little holiday period.
Even though the weather forecast was more or less bad we still decided to go for a hike. Fründenhütte (2562m) is perched above the magnificent Oeschinensee near Kandersteg. The Weatherman was wrong again but this time it was good for us since about an hour in to our hike and the first 500 verticals, the sun broke through. We raced to the hut to catch the glimpse of the big walls and glaciers of Doldenhorn (3638m), Fründenhorn (3369m) & Blüemlisalphorn (3661m). The hut and the path leading to it is remote and quite exposed on some sections but well secured by ferratas. Still, not many people come, the hut is simple and the surroundings give a true sense of wilderness and high alpine country. And boy do you feel small up there. After a little Rösti break and half an hour of silence to recharge and clear the minds we headed back down followed by thunder and clouds and by the time we reached the valley below wind picked up, temperature dropped noticeably and the sun was gone. Time to go home.
Time for another classic above Engelberg. It was however clear, even as we were getting up to Brunnihütte (1860m), that there will be no views today. Shame, since both our goals are known for some fancy views. Instead it was foggy, wet and cold. But we still had lots of fun walking towards Rugghubelhütte (2290m). Just above the hut the route markings slowly change from red-white to blue-white and the grassy meadows full of cows give way to rocks and patches of snow.
The route first climbs up to Engelberger Lücke (2686m) where you can decide which of the two peaks to climb first. We went to Wissigstock (2887m) first, back to the Lücke and then up again to Engelberger Rotstock (2818m). Wissigstock was windy with lots of snow on the Grissenfirn glacier and soooo cold. It was great :) Rotstock on the other hand is more tricky to climb, with lots of loose rock, no clear path and exposed drops on both sides of the ridge. We also experienced the first little snow storm of the season. From Rotsctock it’s back across the Rot Grätli (2559m) to the hut for some excellent Rösti, apricot pie, beer and coffee.
It was hard to get back down to the valley… ;)
The Weatherman promised sunshine in the west so west i went. Again early morning train, this time down to Lausanne and from there to Montreaux on the eastern bank of Lake of Geneva. Since this is still Switzerland, naturally, you can take a train to take you to the top of the mountain. I had other plans however and i only took the train to get past the fancy houses (mansions, castles?) in Glion and Caux. From there the trail leads up to Col de Jaman (1512m) and Dent de Jaman (1875m).
My main goal however was the ferrata of Rochers de Naye which ascends the main NW ridge of Grande Chaux de Naye (1982m). The ferrata is not super long (450m) but it is considered very difficult – ED (Extrêmement Difficile). The reason is that there are a few sustained (read: no rest) overhanging sections which require a bit of strength to get through. Add to that the fact that the Weatherman got it wrong again and there was fog, clouds, cold wind and a lot of mud and water. I was glad i brought my beanie, gloves and 2 extra layers!
Anyway once you top the ferrata it’s an easy hike along the ridge to the top of Rochers de Naye (2042m). The view was non existent and even the Marmot colonies they have up there were sleeping underground. So i took the easy way down with the train, a cappuccino in hand :)
It’s been a while since i went hiking just for the hiking part. And since it is mid July this Saturday seemed perfect. I was looking for something high enough to escape the boiling heat but still low enough to avoid the fresh snow from last weekend. Oh and also rather short and enjoyable. Not just because i might have forgotten how to walk but also because i am testing new boots (a.k.a. blister fest) and, even more importantly, the weather forecast was promising some big storms in the afternoon as a consequence of the little heat wave that hit Switzerland last week. So i opted for Sparrhorn (3021m) in the Bernese Alps, easily accessible from Belalp (2094m) but offering magnificent views of the Great Aletsch Glacier as well as many of the 4000ers in Valais.
Early start to catch the first train down to Brig and from there up to Belalp where the hike starts. Already in the morning the air around the distant peaks was misty and the sun was scorching. Bringing my “after climbing hand moisturising cream” instead of the regular alpine sun cream proved to be a problem as my red nose can testify. Note to self: don’t pack your stuff at 5AM… live & learn
Instead of taking the direct route I took a bit of a detour to Hotel Belalp (2130m) to catch a glimpse of the Great Aletsch Glacier, which is the biggest glacier in the Alps (23km and 45sq km) and part of UNESCO World Heritage. The glacier is retreating and although you can only see the lower part and the valley it left behind it is still an impressive beast.
From the viewing platform a small trail leads up all the way to the top. Not very exciting but at the top your patience is rewarded with some really nice views. The weather was really great and I was pondering of traversing the ridge to Hochstock (3226m) but ultimately decided against it. Ominous clouds were gathering on the horizon. When i reached Bern 3 hours later the radar was showing a big purple spat over Brig. Good call on a good day :)
Since we had to visit our sister company in Salzburg we decided it would be nice to get some R&R first. So we packed the bikes and drove to Berchtesgaden where we met our local sales rep who was kind enough to babysit us during the weekend.
Saturday was rainy so we played tourists and visited Kehlstein (1837m) where the Kehlsteinhaus (a.k.a. Eagle’s Nest) is located. The views weren’t the best so we did some exploring around the local forests, looking for old bunkers and ruins and eventually settled in Hofbrauhaus-Bräustüberl for some proper dinner and beers. In the evening we decided to change the venue and visited another beer garden in Bad Reichnehall during their annual town party.
On Sunday the sun was back and our guides took us up towards Karspitz (1641m) and then all along the ridge back towards Bad Reichenhall. Great trails combined with some nice refreshment in the cold creeks along the way. Another tasty dinner and some more local beers in the evening to wrap up the day.
Monday we were checking out our new offices in Salzburg and then headed back. But to keep it more interesting we chose the back roads through Kitzbuhel, Innsbruck and finally Vaduz and home. Beautiful landscape i am more familiar with when under snow so it was a nice experience. Not to mention a great Tyrolean dinner in St. Anton :)
All in all a weekend worth repeating.
Another year passed and it was time for our annual summer Fun Day. Off to do some product testing at Melchsee-Frutt (1920m). The rock was great and sharp, with nice long routes, the weather perfect and the scenery serene.
After a whole day it was time to race the Trottis (it’s a kind of a hybrid between a bike and a scooter) back down the road for some apéro and beers before heading back home.
A fun day!