Saturday, July 07, 2018

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Climbing the Grande Lui

This weekend we did our first SAC tour, and first hochtour, of the year: the Grande Lui.
After four hours of travel (five trains and a bus! no wonder we've never been down here before!), we start walking in La Fouly. The nine of us head through the campground and along a nice path through the woods. Eventually we run out trees and start head up, up, up the lovely valley. The weather is beautiful but it's quite warm, so we really enjoy the more relaxed pace enforced by traveling with a group. Up, up, up we go, ....

.....over a few snow fields and then up a long series of switchbacks before crossing the big snowfield to the scrambly ascent (with a chain) up to the Cab. de l'A Neuve. We hang out and enjoy the sun and great views for the rest of the day. After a so-so meal (it's the first weekend that they are open, but still...) we do a bit of route planning for the next day. Greg and R do a quick "reco-tour" across the snow field to check out conditions and establish a path for the morning (some "fun" for greg as we reverse this and there's a bit of steep descent on snow... always a favorite). We hang out a bit longer and then head off to bed.

The morning starts early: up at 4 and we're underway by 5:20 (the Huettenwartin overslept, so it's a bit slow). Conditions are fantastic: full moon, clear sky, not too cold. We put on the crampons up top and then descend through the "couloir" to the snowfield (great way to start the day...). Once on the snow we cross over to the moraine, head up that, and then continue up, up until we hit the bit that's still glacier. Here we rope up into two teams and then continue heading up, up, up. The going is easy despite heavily sun cupped snow (though there's a bit too much traversing steep slopes for greg's taste) and we make it up onto the broad glacier at about 3300m in good time.

From here we ascend a bit more to the steep snow field that heads up to the Col de la Grande Lui. Now there's a slowdown as we carefully make our way up this (the snow is great, so it's not too bad) and then transition onto the rock. Off with the crampons and then up, up, carefully through the loose rock to the peak.

From here it's clear that doing the traverse isn't feasible: there are too many unknowns and it's a bit too late, so we decide to head back the way we came up. We enjoy a nice break and rest along with the really nice views (though unfortunately not the Mont Blanc!) before starting back down. We choose a different route down, following the other group that had come up at the roughly the same time as us, spend more time on the loose rock (reminiscent of the Piz Kesch) and transition back onto the snow below the steepest part. From here it's back the way we came up to the hut. The snow is lovely, so once we get down below the glacier and take off the crampons we can do some nice glissading down.

Back at the hut we enjoy a break in the sun (and some cake!) before packing away all the gear and starting the long walk back to La Fouly. We do get to enjoy some more good glissading at the top, but it's hot, so by the time we've made it back to town we're all very ready for a cool drink while waiting for the bus. The public transportation is exactly as crowded as one would expect on a sunny Sunday afternoon, so things are full. Still, aside from the bus from La Fouly (which is stupid full), we manage to get seats the rest of the way.

This was a fun tour in a part of Switzerland we hadn't been to before and it was cool to be out with the group. But we could easily have done the tour on our own and it was probably not worth the long travel times. Next time we head down there, it should be for more than one night. :-)

The track:

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Along the Niesengrat: Niesen to Steinschlaghore

Text to come



Stats: 15km, 1400m up, 2900m down

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Brienzer Grat

Text and Track to come

Day one:
Stats: 14km, 1900m up, 720m down

Day two:
Stats: 20.2km, 1470m up, 2450m down

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Climbing the Rigi Hochflue

We wanted to take advantage of the good weather and get out and do a nice multipitch route. We opted to go to the Rigi Hochflue. We'd seen some of the routes on our previous hike to the peak and it seemed like a nice combination of interesting approach and good climbing.

From Brunnen we walked to the Urmiberg gondola, took this up to Timpel (no need to hike up those 700m today), and then walked to Egg on a familiar path. From here we followed a trail that contours around the south face into the woods. This is clearly the route for climbers. :-)

The path takes us through the woods, down a bit, up a bit, until it starts to get steeper as we hit the base of the cliffs. Nice glimpse of a pair in front of us who are on the "ladder". At the "Nische" we put on our helmets and climbing harnesses and continue to the very exposed iron rungs that takes us straight up (a couple of points here where we weren't unhappy that there was a line to clip onto). At the top of the steps we continue to climb, following a well trod path, until we hit the base of the routes. It's fun to have a T5 approach. :-) The pair in front of us is at the base of two of the routes having lunch; that seems like a good idea, so we continue along a bit to find our own lunch spot. Over lunch we decide that we'll start on one of the easier (5a) routes instead of immediately diving into a 5c; it's been a while since we climbed on slabs and it's still pretty early in the season.

After lunch we head to the base of the route Edelwis, put on the rest of the gear, and start climbing. The climbing has great views, is a bit scary at times (we really aren't used to doing slabs), confusing once or twice (the bolts are pretty far apart, so finding the route isn't always easy), but overall quite fun. We're certainly glad that we picked the easier route... a 5c would likely have been too much. Up top we take a short break, pack away the climbing gear, and then follow the path up to join the blue-white hiking trail that leads to the Hochflue. Up top (not too crowded today) we eat the other half of our lunch and enjoy the views.

After eating we head down the ladder (same as last time) and head down the ridge. We pass some very cool faces carved into a dead tree and eventually get to G├Ątterli, which is fortunately open. Yay! After cool and refreshing beverages we follow the interesting path down to Goldau and the train back to Basel.

Good hiking, good climbing, good weather, good views, good day! :-)

Gear note: Greg did this in a new pair of approach shoes: Salewa MTN Trainer GTX. They did well.