Sunday, June 11, 2017

Obersee to Innerthal via the Zindlenspitz

We're on our way under cloudless skies at around 8am. It's going to be a hot one! We start with a nice bit around the lake, with Br├╝nnelistock and the rest of the range (including the Schiberg) mirrored in the lake and filling our view. We can even see the steep grass flank that's going to be the day's T6 component. We continue up the valley, spending a happy amount of time under trees, until hitting Sulzboden. Here as we're studying the slope and our map (with sketched route) a local couple who's walking by stops and asks us what we're planning on doing. After some clear skepticism about our answer, he ends up confirming our planned route and provides the additional very good tip that we can start in the woods outside of town instead of taking the path up to a clearing as we had planned. This wins us a few hundred meters of climbing in shade instead of the sun; that's huge.

Into the woods we go, up, and up. As we're breaking out the poles (we each have one with us) a local catches up and asks what we're doing. We repeat the skepticism exercise (greg thinks that a lot of this is because we're wearing low shoes and people aren't used to the idea that you can have low shoes with stiff soles), agree that we're going the right way and that we are aware that it is steep up ahead, and then bid him goodbye as he powers past. We follow a lot more slowly, up, up, up on a not always super clear path through the trees until we hit a cool hut (really almost a cave) at around 1400m. Here the trees end and we move out onto the grass. Up, up, up we continue, catching occasional glimpses of the local above us. It's steep and the sun is warm, so we aren't moving super fast, but it's dry and the footing is good so we make good progress. Most of the time we're walking instead of doing grass climbing, so having the poles is definitely useful. After a bit we enter an area of mixed grass and rock/scree. This requires additional concentration, but that's part of the fun. Once open rock starts to show up, we also start to see the occasional blue marker. Those are a nice affirmation that we're heading the right way. After a break or two, some more climbing and some more traversing we hit the final chimney (the left one!) that leads us up to the ridge between the XXXstock and the Zindlenspitz. We celebrate briefly being on a more-or-less flat surface after a couple hours on a steep slope and then continue along the ridge to cross the face of the Zindlenspitz and then follow the normal hiking route to its top.

This is a red-white trail to a peak with a great view on a sunny Sunday, there are some people here. :-) The true peak is completely packed, so we do a nice, quiet lunch break alone (!) on the vorgipfel and then head up to the actual peak for a quick look around before starting the long descent back. The route back down is a red-white descent with good views and a nice mix of terrain types. There are people on it, but it's not stupidly full, so the hiking is still enjoyable. Once down at the lake we stop for a refreshing beverage at XX and then continue the rest of the way to Innerthal in a leisurely manner (we have plenty of time before the next bus comes). Back in down we sit in the shade for the 15 minutes til the bus comes and enjoy the mild chaos caused by a local club event (giant cow bells, accordion, very Swiss).


Track:
Stats: 14.9km, 1165m up, 1230m down

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Schiberg via the Brennaroute

Finally a weekend with good weather on both days! There's still maybe a bit too much snow to go high, so we opt to head to the region around Glarus.

For day one we're doing the Brennaroute up to the Schiberg. This is considered to be one of the reference T6 tours and seems a perfect kickoff to the real mountain season. :-)

After train-train-bus we start in Innerthal. The path leads us out of town and then up, up, up towards the Schiberg and Bockmattli. From the path up we can certainly see the route we'll be taking up the face of the Schiberg, but it's certainly not obvious; this is going to be fun! As one would expect for a sunny Saturday, there are people out and about but it's still early so there aren't really crowds yet. Despite the early hour, there are already a couple of groups climbing the route Namenlose Kante on the Bockmattli; it's a great looking route, but probably not something for a weekend.

At the Bockmattlih├╝tte (which is teeny, but very nice looking) we turn off the hiking path and follow a trail steeply up to to the rock. Here we put on our climbing harnesses (just in case we need them at some point) and helmets and start scrambling up. This really is a great route: a mix of scrambling and walking, easy to follow thanks to blue markings and a use trail, really nice views (well, there are some clouds, so it's not what it could be), everything you could want. We're even mostly alone in the route: the only other person we see is a local(?) who powers by us while we're having a food break on the way up. The crux of the route is a 5m down climb that would be scary/tricky (anticipation of this is why we're wearing the harnesses) but someone has put a rope loop in at the ideal spot so it ends up being no big deal. After the down climb we head up some steep grass, then rejoin the ridge for the last bit to the peak at the end of the ridge. We celebrate the successful scramble (boy was it fun) and then head along the ridge, across the wild limestone formations, to the peak at the end and its cross. Here we do another food break and enjoy the occasional views through the clouds that are all around us.

After the break we head down to the saddle and pick up the blue-white path that leads us across the Schneeschmelzi underneath the ridge of the Schiberg and back to Bockmattlipass. Now it's up, up again to the Bockmattli itself, where have a quick look around before continuing along the ridge towards the Tierberg. At the fork in the path we opt to head down. Now it's down, down, steeply down, along a not-heavily used but well marked blue white path until we hit the houses at Hinter Ahornen. Another short break here and then we continue on down the road towards Obersee.  This isn't the most exciting bit of road-hiking ever (though certainly not the worst either), so we're super happy when a local stops and offers us a ride down to the hotel.

After refreshing beverages we check in, have showers, do a stroll along the lake, and then have a nice meal before heading off to bed.

This was a really nice tour. The feel was almost hochtour, but everything was green. Fun!

Track:
Stats: 12.5km, 1330m up, 1130m down.

Gear: this was Andrea's first tour in her new halbschuhe.

Monday, June 05, 2017

The Leenflue

The forecast isn't great and it's been raining too much for us to expect to be able to do any interesting climbing, but it looks like we have a window in the weather so we opt for a T5: the Leenflue above Oensingen.

Following a couple descriptions on Hikr, we head out of town towards the lovely ridge, follow a path around the East nose, and then pick up a path marked with blue that leads us steeply up onto the ridge itself near the power mast. From here navigation is pretty easy: follow the ridge; there is even a pretty clear use trail up here. Onward we go! This is a mixture of walking combined with some good scrambling. It's not super exposed, but there's enough there to make you think about it. There's one steeper bit with a choice of going through a not-particularly-pleasant looking chimney or heading outside (to the right) and past a couple of bolts (with rope slings in them to use as grips). We take the outer route, which is plenty exposed. Definitely some careful foot placement here (particularly considering that the shoes are a bit muddy). It was on the outer edge of what was comfortable, so on top of that step we break out the rope and climbing gear and continue along the ridge (which is now flat and pretty broad... of course). Right about now it starts raining, first some sprinkling and then real rain. After a bit more walking we get to where we can see the final bit of climbing. Here we decide that it's just too wet to continue. We head back a bit to a saddle and follow the blue marked path down and under the ridge (and under the big flag hung on the cliff) through the woods to the saddle on the other side of the Vordere Leenberg.


We pack away the rope and gear and take the normal hiking path back down to Oensingen and the train home (stupid thing here: we didn't check the train schedule so we get to the station just as a train is leaving... ah well, it's only half an hour of waiting).

We'll definitely have to go back and do this one again; it's a nice tour and the views would be great. It's also low enough that it should certainly be doable in either early or late season.

The track:

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Day 4 around the Grigna (well, kind of)

This was our trip-back day.

The idea was to do some climbing in the Parco del Monte Barro (outside Lecco) and then head back home. We'd read online that a lot of the (huge) climbing area in the park was closed for cleaning, but at least some sectors should be open. On arriving at the park and hiking into the cliffs, there's a lot of signage that seems to indicate that everything's closed. Many of the approach trails have tape across them. We head up anyway since the website from the park says some sectors are open. We find a (theoretically) open sector, but no one else is around. It's all a bit too weird, and the sun is already mighty warm (Southern exposure...), so we opt to not really do any climbing.

After heading back to the car we go ahead and drive to Como, have lunch, and then spend the afternoon in town (it's crazy full!) before piling onto the train and making the long way home.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Day 3 around the Grigna

We get another not-super-early start since the hotel breakfast doesn't start until later.
Today we start by retracing our steps from Thursday afternoon (a bit slower since we're carrying gear today) until we pass the helicopter landing pad and start upwards.

The plan is to climb the Torrione Magnaghi and do a traverse, but first we have to find the start of the route. This isn't particularly easy given that today there aren't nice markers pointing the way and we're in clouds again, so we can't see the tops of the walls. There are a couple of groups climbing a bit to the right from where we are, but we're pretty sure that isn't right. We pick an approach that seems right, scramble up for a bit, and end up at a wall with a couple bolts in it. This doesn't seem right and there's no obvious place to continue, so we scramble back down and head up to where the other groups are. After a quick chat with them it's clear that this certainly isn't right; they point us back in the direction we came from. *sigh*. We head down again and back up, along what is clearly a use trail, until we again at the wall with a couple of bolts. Definitely not right. There's a saddle to the left, but that ends up in a descending chute, that also doesn't seem right. *double sigh*. We scramble down again and move a bit away from the wall so that we have a better overview. After some looking and topo-study and a bit of cloud clearing we figure out what we've done wrong: we'll find the start of the route in that descending chute. More or less at the same time that we figure this out, a big group comes around the corner, up the path, and a bunch of them heads towards that point. It's like a bus let out or something: instead of being mostly alone, there are suddenly around 20 other climbers here and at least 10 of them are doing the route we want to do. *triple sigh* That wouldn't be much fun... looks like we aren't doing that climb today.

We decide instead to just do a dayhike: we continue up to the saddle, along the ridge to the peak (reversing the hike from the peak from the day before), have lunch in the crowds (really) on the peak, and then start to head down. Instead of taking the main path, we fork off onto the really nice trail that goes under the Cresta Segantini. This leads us back into the very cool stone formations we went through the day before. We pass the start point for that climb and continue along the trail (now on the other side of the ridge) until we're at the saddle above the Rif. Rosalba. Here we do another food break with great views all around (including of all the people at the Rifugio and a couple climbers doing the awesome-looking Piramide Casati) before starting our way back down on the Senterio Georgio. This trail leads us through more fantastic stone formations until we hit the "Direttisima" trail from the day before. This is almost as much fun in the other direction. :-)

Not being able to do the climb was frustrating, but this ended still being a really nice hike.

The track: