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!
Today was time for a classic. Pizzo Lucendro (2963m) is one of those pyramid shaped mountains that catches your eye whenever you are in the area. In winter tourers usually avoid it because of the long approach. But once the Gotthard Pass (2091m) is cleared it is a very popular destination. Well, the Pass opened this Friday and we were there before 5 AM to start the day. Not many people were around this early and we were greeted by fading stars and dawn creeping in from the peeks to the East. When going to Lucendro you normally combine it with some other peaks, making a nice loop.
First up was the saddle of Passo della Valletta (2643m) which, not surprisingly, is shadowed by the North (2726m) and South (2758m) peaks of Pizzo della Valletta. From the pass it’s a short but steep ski down towards Passo di Lucendro where you skin up again. Another 500 verticals and you reach the Eastern Ridge of Lucendro where you leave the skis and get in line to climb to the summit.
Ski back down and start climbing the narrow ridge towards Fibbia (2739m). But first a little detour to the South peak of Valleta to ski its steep eastern flank before skinning up again for the last time to Fibbia. From there finally just the last descent down to the Gotthard Pass and back to Andermatt for a superb Spycher burger and a beer.
A very nice and dynamic tour. And with the amount of snow still around we should be back in June :)
What a way to end the lift season… After two foggy and cloudy days the sky opened and revealed some 50 cm of fresh snow that fell over the two days. The temperature dropped below zero so the snow on top was almost fluffy. Lower down mostly crusty due to all the moisture but the spring sun soon took care of that. Great conditions for May.
The high Swiss passes are being cleared as well and there is still plenty of snow. Now we will just have to start using our legs more :)
Back in the Alps to enjoy the last days of the season. Thursday was sunny and the snow looked great. Unfortunately it turned out to be super crusty and only late in the day did it turn to proper spring slush. Clouds started moving in and by the evening it started snowing again.
Friday turned into a rest day since the mountain was closed due to intense snowfall and poor visibility. Just as well. I was exploring the village surroundings which turned out to be a long golf pitch stretching all the way to Realp.
Saturday morning and still snowing. It cooled down though, well below zero with the wind chill. Since visibility was still very bad and i didn’t want to hike the golf course again i just went and skinned up to the top. Feels like real winter up there. I couldn’t see my own tips skiing down but it was still fun.
With all the new snow and cold temperatures tomorrows season finale should be great. Not to mention the bluebird forecast :P