Junior came for a visit so naturally we had to go walking. We met at Visp on Saturday morning and then drove to Zinal (1675m) at the end of Val d’Anniviers where we left the car. As is typical for Valais the approach is steep. About half way we reached the little alp hut of Combautanna (2578m) above the waterfall and had our lunch break with cows. This is also where we could first spot our goal for the day, peaking out from behind the clouds. The hut looks relatively close but it is still quite a way out and the path soon leaves the pastures and gets steep again. Eventually though, 4 hours and 1600 vertical meters later, we were enjoying our beer at Cabane de Tracuit (3256m). The hut is practically new as it was completely rebuilt in 2013 and as such is very fancy. And expensive. 10CHF for a bottle of water… Which is why you should drink beer, it’s cheaper :)
Anyway the clouds were soon blown in and it got really cold fast so there was no stargazing and after dinner we just hit the bunks. Breakfast at 5, then a short hike with the rest of the hut to the edge of the massive Turtmann glacier where we quickly roped up and hit the ice. The night was cold so everything was nicely frozen and they said there was fresh snow above 3300m. Luckily all the big crevasses are at the start so they were clearly visible but it was still adventurous moving around, overtaking the rest of the big groups and trying not to get tangled in. We were soon clear of the main crowd and started the steep ascent up to the summit. The sun caught up when we reached the ridge but it was still cold and there was probably around 15cm of fresh snow up there. 3 hours later we were standing on top of Bishorn (4153m) getting those pictures. Not for long as the wind was just too cold and we quickly started the long descend back down to the hut where we had some coffee, sorted the gear and then reluctantly started the steep walk down.
Last weekend we met some cool people and this week were invited to their birthday party combined with an awesome project – longest highline attempt ever. The line was to be setup in Eastern Switzerland between two Churfirsten. The Churfirsten themselves are a spectacular setting, a ridge in the southern Appenzell Alps consisting of 7 main peaks all about the same height with big gaps in between that were caused by erosion of the limestone during the last ice age.
We met Saturday morning at the end of the road on the plateau of Alp Sellamat (1579m), went over the battle plan and split into teams. There were probably about 40 people and loads of gear, water and food that first needed to be carried up to the camp. Was a short hike of some 45 minutes but when you are carrying two 50l backpacks it gets quite tiring :) Some folks stayed behind to prepare the camp while the rest of us split into 3 teams to go set up the line. It took us the whole day but eventually the 500m line was set between two Churfirsten: Zuestoll (2235m) and Schibenstoll (2236m). When the main protagonist tried it out just before dusk the screams and cheers could be heard far and wide. Party time!
The next morning after breakfast we grabbed more gear and headed up the mountain again where people were getting familiar with the line. You really have to see it to fully appreciate the scale. Much respect. I had to return home eventually but my thoughts stay behind, hoping they pull it off during the coming week.
The plan for the weekend was to just get out there and have some fun and it worked very nicely. Back to Andermatt after a long time and from there up to Gotthard where we made our beds for the night. Soooo many stars…
There are tons of rocks scattered around the pass and we just wandered from one to the next in no particular order. Really fun and relaxing weekend.
Heatwave. Like the rest of Switzerland we were looking to escape it by going higher up. As a consequence all the huts were fully booked but we did manage to get enough places in the Gaulihütte (2205m) which became our goal on Saturday.
We met in Meiringen and soon left the main road towards the remote valley of Urbachtal. There is a small parking lot at the end of the valley (880m) and then you start walking. At first there is a nice lush forest but that soon disappears as the way gets steeper. There are tons of creeks coming down from all over and that proved a life saver as it provided for constant refreshment and fresh drinking water. We made a little detour and stopped by the Matenalpsee (1874m) for a swim. The lake gets most of its water from the massive Gauligletscher and is really, really, really cold. In fact it is so cold it hurts.
After refreshments we continued on our way and reached the hut in good time. Before dinner we had time to go scout our route for the next day and also take a dip in the “pool” in front of the hut. Luxurious. Dinner was excellent and so was the little play the caretaker put up afterwards. Apparently there are some creatures living in the crevasses up on the glacier and they become really agitated if people cross it too late…
So we set our alarm clocks for 3.30 and were out the door at 4. We soon reached the big snow field that led up to the start of our first objective – Chammligrat. The ridge is beautiful and not too difficult although it does have some exposed sections. We didn’t rope up though so we could move faster and made good time. About half way we made a little break and watched the sun come up and then sped on as it was going to be another hot day. The ridge widens towards the end and eventually meets the normal route coming up from the glacier where we met with our second group and reached the summit of Hangendgletscherhorn (3291m) together. Had a little high altitude birthday party celebration but soon started our descend back down.
We left the summit around 8 and it was already boiling up on the glacier despite all the snow. After the steep top section and once we passed the crevasse fields we could take off the crampons and just slide down to generate some much needed wind :) We stopped by the hut for another swim in the pool and some rösti but again sped on. The route down under (yet another) Tälligrat is long, it was hot and yes, really long. After 12 hours we finally reached the parking lot, drove back to Meiringen, bought some cold beer and settled in on the train for the ride back to the concrete jungle.
After a day on the bike it was time to go back to some rocks. We left early to Kandersteg and walked a short distance to the cliffs below Allmenalp. Spectacular setting with many waterfalls and big snowy mountains all around. We sped ahead of some big group of people which meant we had a clear way on our climb and didn’t have to wait for anyone. The ferrata is rated difficult (K4) and has some nice features like it’s own zip-line (two actually), a twisting ladder and some long hanging rope bridges.
Originally we wanted to extend the hike up to First (2548m) but it was so hot that we instead rather had lunch at the Allmenalp (1723m) and enjoyed the views.
Our boss doesn’t like being lonely and he convinced us to go with him on a little bike trip across (half of) Switzerland. Starting from Basel you first need to cross the Jura Mountains before you reach the Schweizer Mittelland or the Central Plateau. A very nice ride where you actually get to drive through all the little villages as opposed to speeding along on the highway. Unfortunately the last 30 km we had to deal with flat tires and ran out of patches and spares… So for the last 15 km i basically didn’t sit down on the bike but pedaled standing up. Good training… And a well deserved beer at the lake in Lucerne.
No pictures, but here is the map of the route :)
After some relatively good sleep and strong breakfast we set off for THE classic tour of the Mont Blanc area, Arête des Cosmiques. It is not too difficult but it does expose you to the best of what alpine mixed climbing is about. A super exposed ridge with great granite, wonderful icy chimneys and some fun abseils. And oh my, what views.
We had excellent conditions with plenty of snow and great ice in the exit chimney. We were also the first group thanks to our sprint on the initial ascent from the hut and so we didn’t have to wait for anyone. The traverse really is pure poetry and i don’t even know how to praise it enough. If you ever come to Chamonix, do yourself a favor and take the time to do this route.
The one thing that kind of spoiled it was my phone which of course died at the beginning of the climb. Luckily plenty of pictures from other people but it got me so pissed i bought a new camera with some extra batteries. If i ever learn to use it i might even start making nicer pictures. It has a lot of buttons though… :)
So again, pictures are mostly from my colleagues.