Andermatt & Oberalpstock 7. & 8.3.2014

March marks the beginning of the meteorological spring and the weather sure noticed. It is getting super warm. However we did get another snow dump at the beginning of the week. No wonder half of the office took a day off on Friday and we all headed down to Andermatt for some freeriding on Gemstock. Even though there were quite a lot of people and most of the “standard” routes were tracked out we found some great fresh powder on the eastern slopes on the other side of Geissgrat, down Gemsplangge towards Unteralp. It took some walking to get back but it was worth it.

After another night spent in our favourite Portugese bar in Andermatt we set our sights on Oberalpstock (3328m) for Saturday. The Oberalpstock ski tour is considered the best ski tour in Central Switzerland and indeed one of the best ski tours in Switzerland in general. Some 700 vertical meters of ascent followed by more than 2500 vertical meters of descent in beautiful surroundings and magnificent views also make it the longest northern descent in the region.

In the morning we took the train from Andermatt across the Oberalppass to Disentis in the Surselva region of Canton Graubünden. From there you take the lifts up to just below Piz Ault (3027m) where you can finally put on the skins and start walking. The first 30 minutes you climb and follow along the eastern ridge until you reach the small ferrata where you take the skins off again, pack the skis and climb across the ridge. On the ridge you get the first glimpse of Oberalpstock with the Brunnifirn glacier which you have to cross. But first there is a relatively steep traverse and descent (cca 37°) towards Fuorcla da Strem Sut (2832m) and down to the glacier below. A small break on the glacier to enjoy the views and then back on skins towards the top. It was crowded on top and the southern facing top section was more or less deprived of snow so some people just walked. It was also very windy with a strong easterly wind blowing the snow around, making it difficult to see on the exposed sections. Thankfully there is more than enough snow on the glacier itself and all the crevasses are covered so there was no need to rope up while crossing.

Soon we were at Point 3163 which marks the steep entry (cca 40°) to another glacier, Staldenfirn. A powder symphony down to Schwarzstöckli (2572m) where you have to traverse a little to get to Gemsplanggen where the steep 40° powder symphony just keeps on going. Amazing! Even though there were so many people around, the area is so wide there was still loads of fresh snow. At this point we had to start thinking about the logistics as well. The Maderanertal is a remote valley with the last bus leaving at 17. Since we had plenty of time we took a break at the little house just below Ligegg (1834m) and enjoyed the views and the sun.

Below the snow gets wetter and more difficult. There is also a very steep (45°) and narrow section in Milchplanggen that you have to descend by rope to get down to Stössi (1187m). The last bit to Tal (832m) is an exercise of finding enough snow to get to the bus on time. With the bus to Erstfeld and from there with the train direct back to Basel.

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