A little later than usual but still… :)
Another glorious weekend and since both Saturday and Sunday were so nice it only made sense to just stay in the mountains. We found ourselves staring at the seemingly impassable cliffs at the end of the valley in Kandersteg (1176m). But there is a way through! The Kander river made a steep gorge that you have to cross in order to reach the obscure and remote valley of Gasterntal. Far from the crowds and shielded on all sides by big mountains this hidden valley is a true alpine gem. We followed along the Kander river all the way to Selden (1537m) which is the only settlement and only populated during summer. The valley continues on towards the Kanderfirn but we turned right and started along the route up to Lötschenpass (2690m). The pass was used throughout history to traverse this part of the Alps as it connects Berner Oberland with Valais. Today there is also a hut on top and it was there that we finished for the day along with some 60 other people. The dinner was quite an event and most of us went out at night to enjoy the Milky Way in all its glory. Just amazing.
After an interesting night we woke up well before dawn, ate the breakfast, refilled and headed towards the wide ridge leading east towards our goal. As we were walking the sun started coming up and the view from the ridge was just spectacular. Lost for words. Soon though we had to start paying attention to our steps as there is fresh snow above 3000m and it was quite icy. We traversed the little snow fields to reach the north face of Hockenhorn (3293m). The last part is some fun block climbing made a little more spicy with all the fresh snow and ice that doesn’t melt anymore on the North side. The views from the top leave you speechless but eventually we started to slide down and got back to the hut just in time for the freshly baked pie and coffee.
Spent another hour enjoying the views in the sun and then started the long descent down to Ferden (1375m) in Lötschental. Amazing two days.
Pilatus is one of those mountain ranges that calls on you whenever you drive south towards the Alps. Located above Lucerne it is a very popular mountain with all the tourists taking the train or the gondolas up. Still, there are more solitary tracks that you can take where there are no tourists just herds of Ibex.
We started in the late morning at Alpgschwänd (1216m) just above the fog. The path is officially closed due to loose rocks but it has been like that for a few years now. It gets steep almost immediately, first through the nicely coloured forest but you soon rise above the tree line where it gets even steeper all the way to the little chapel just below Klimsenhorn (1907m). We were alone and managed to wake up a herd of Ibex catching the first sun rays below the massive cliffs of Pilatus. After the chapel it gets even steeper but i was wondering why the route is closed. One clue was presented when we reached the big hotel and railway station on Kulm – lots of underdressed tourists with fancy shoes :)
We left them behind and climbed Esel (2118m) and then traversed the ridge to Tomlishorn (2128m) which is the highest peak of the Pilatus range. All the time we enjoyed great views of the sea of fog below and Alps already covered with snow, bathing in the sun. After an hour or so of chilling in the sun our stomachs demanded attention so we descended down the same way and had some nice Rösti and beers before returning to the fog below.
Super weather continued on Sunday and so we found ourselves on Furkapass (2429m) in the morning. The trail starts with an easy ascent up to Tällilücke (2721m) and then continues east below the ridge. But that’s not what ridges are made for! So we soon left the trail and started scrambling up the big rocks towards the west peak of Tällistock (2861m). From there we just followed the ridge east – east peak of Tällistock (2875m), P2799, P2851, P2985, P3005 and finally made it to the big cross on top of Gross Muttenhorn (3099m). The views were just amazing and the ridge provided enough obstacles to keep it interesting. After a short break we headed back with a twist and descended the couloir at P2851 down to Muttgletscher which shaved about an hour off our return trip. Still took us 6 hours for the round trip and so after a long weekend we felt we deserve some food love and treated ourselves with some excellent Hirschpfeffer back in Andermatt.
A few days before the weekend a sort of anxiety crept into the office (and half of Switzerland for that matter). The reason was probably the best weather forecast of any weekend this summer. Perfect conditions for mountaineering.
Woke up early morning in the cold of Andermatt and set off towards Sustenpass (2224m). After a quick coffee at the Restaurant Steingletscher we found ourselves below the cliffs leading up to Tierberglihütte (2795m) and the actual Steigletsher glacier. Instead of taking the hiking route we opted for the Via Ferrata Tierbergli. The ferrata starts just a few meters from the parking and is split into two parts, both of moderate difficulty. Since it’s north facing the rock was quite cold and wet and especially on top of the second section there were already some icy snow patches. The ferrata tops out with a magnificent view of the Steigletsher just a short walk from the hut.
We had another coffee and some delicious freshly baked pie before going on. Down to the glacier to rope up, put on the crampons and head around the the big serac field towards Vorder Tierberg (3091m). There was fresh snow and we were only the second group to head up here so we were completely alone. On the way we had to cross two big crevasses and do a bit of climbing before the very top but other than that it’s an easy route. The views were great all along the way as well as on the top, it was warm and sunny so we were just sitting around on top for a while.
Eventually we had to go back down the same way, enjoying the views and stopping again at the hut for a well deserved beer. Then down the normal hiking way and we were back at the pass exactly 7 hours after setting off.
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.