Monday, May 21, 2018

Two prominent ridges above Oesingen: Leenflue and Ravellen

It didn't end up raining the night before and it's not supposed to rain today, so we decide to head back to Oensingen to finish the Leenflue tour that we had to break off last year due to rain. We start under a sunny sky (yay!) and repeat the same bits as last year. This time since we know what to expect we've opt not to take the climbing gear with us. The scrambling is just as nice as last year, the rock's nice and dry (though it is muddy, which requires careful footwork), and it's clear the views would be fantastic if the Alps weren't covered by clouds and haze. The rope slings that were in the exposed bit last year are now gone, but that probably actually helps psychologically. After the long flat bit where we descended last year) we continue to a bit more scrambling, do the narrow exposed ridge (very nice!), and then are up top sooner than expected. What a great ridge! We make the first bit of the descent more complex than it needs to be by heading directly off the end of the ridge before looping back around the nose and finding the path down. At the picnic area we have a snack and plan what comes next... we've only been going for 1.5 hours and it's clear that there needs to be more in the day.

We have a Hikr report where the author continues by heading back down into the valley and then does the ridge up to the Ravellen and continues with the Roggenflue. At least the first bit of that sounds great, so we cross the field, and pick up a nice trail down through the woods to Badmatt. Cross the river, back a bit, across the big road, and then along the road a bit more until we hit the traces that lead up to the ridge, easy to find thanks to the picture on Hikr (we're so spoiled to have access to this resource!). Here it's steeply up through the woods until we hit the rocks of the ridge. Now we just follow the ridge (and the blue markers along the way) for some nice, straightforward (definitely easier than the Leenflue) scrambling on good rock with great views, including a really nice one back to the Leenflue). We do a lunch break sitting on the ridge near the flag pole (soooo nice to have lunch in the sun with a cool breeze and good views!) before continuing the last bit to the end of the ridge (we stick to the ridge, a bit above the path), picking up the path, and heading to Schloss Neu Bechburg. This is closed, so we decide to continue onwards and upwards a bit towards the Roggenflue. Up, up, on a nice trail through the woods that hits a forest road, then up, up until we get to the restaurant below the Roggenflue. This is open and the terrace is too nice to pass up, so we stop for a nice snack and refreshing beverage before continuing on our way down to Balsthal. This is a quite nice red-white trail, at first through the woods, then along the cliffs, then steeply down along the cliffs (nice view of some people climbing the nose of the cliffs here) before taking us past the old castle and into town near the Thalbrücke train station. We grab something to drink at the Denner and then wait a bit for the train that starts our way home.

A really nice day with some cool ridges. We definitely need to go back and do the ridge up onto the Roggenflue too... that's shorter, but is also supposed to be fun. :-)


Track:
Stats: 11.7km, 860m up, 830m down.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Jura hike: Corcelles to Passwang

The weather forecast wasn't what you'd hope, so we opted for a hike through the Jura instead of something more adventurous. This was something of a play-it-by-ear hike through a section of the Jura where we hadn't been before.

We start at the train station in Corcelles and then follow the road up the valley for a bit before moving off onto trail. This is through quite wet grass, so moving off the road is something of a mixed blessing and leads to wet legs and shoes... ah well. Up the valley go, through our first herd of cows of the year, over the fence (electrified, as g discovers... ouch!) and back onto the road when we get close, past the Alp at Paturage derriere, and then onto a forest road that climbs gently up the side of the valley. This is a really nice bit through the woods. At Mittleri Hell we switch back to a trail through the grass and climb up, up, up to the saddle at Oberi Hell with its nice view forward. Instead of heading down through the wet grass, we follow the road around the bend and head down, down, through the gorge, past Seehof, and up to the farmhouse (including a fish farm) at Stäge. Up through a narrow bit of gorge, past the hut at Hüsligrabe, and then up, up, on a lovely trail through the woods. We do a lunch break in a nice clearing and then head up, up, out of the woods, up, up, to a pass and then down to the farm at Rotloch. Note: you can see Basel from this pass, which is pretty cool. Now we gently climb to the ridge and hit the Matzendörfer Stierenberg. Last time we came by here we had a nice lunch, but today there were no tables free inside and it was a bit too chilly and windy to eat outside... ah well. Onward we go, descending to the Scheltenpass, and then along a nice bit of very typical Jura ridge hiking (yay!) until we get to Vorder Erzberg. This is open, unlike last time, and with a couple free seats, but we decide that the dining room is too loud and hot and continue on. From here the first couple of km are well known from previous trips, but instead of turning down towards Neuhüsli we continue along a very, very nice path that contours under the trees along the face of the Sunnenberg. We climb a bit after emerging from the trees, have a nice second lunch break with a view just past p968, and then continue along the road and down to the bus stop at Passwang tunnel.

This was another very nice day of hiking in the Jura. Though we didn't see much sun, it never rained on us and we got a cool new line for the map. :-)


Track, the fact that it's almost a straight line is more or less an accident:
Stats: 23.4km, 1385m up, 1024m down

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Climbing at the Stockhorn

text and track maybe to come

Friday, May 11, 2018

Sachseln to Giswil via the complete Arnigrat

It’s the time of year for training tours! Andrea had the really good idea to revisit the Arnigrat, this time doing the "full" version based on a couple Hikr reports. We weren’t quite sure what the conditions would be like on the approach or the ridge itself, so we brought along ice axes and gaiters.

The start from Sachseln was under a blue sky, with some scattered low clouds about. Up, up we headed out of town, crossing dew-covered fields that soaked our shoes (yay for GoreTex!) and pants legs, always up. Thanks to the really high humidity we both end up with soaked T-shirts too, but the temperature is nice and the going is good. After passing through a bit of cloud we come out into the sun around Oberbüelen. Not too long later we find a good, dry sitting rock and take a short break to eat something and enjoy the views. The first other people we’ve encountered today are above us, slowly making their way up. After the nice break we continue up up, past the two older gentlemen,  always up towards the Dössli and Höch Dossen.

Not too far below the Dössli we hit some steep snow and wet grass and are happy to have the ice axes with us. A bit of kicking steps and edging through the grass takes us to the ridge. From this point on we stay on (or very close to) the ridge. After a bit more climbing and following the ridge we hit the Hohmad, where we enjoy a lunch break with fantastic views in all directions.


From this point we are following the ridge for about 3km of pure fun. conditions are great, the views are fantastic, wonderful stuff. It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 10 years since the last time we did this (in fact, while discussing it during the hike we were convinced that it hadn’t been that long)! Certainly Greg is a lot more comfortable now than he was the last time. :-)

At the Wandelen we take another short break and eat a bit before starting our way down. First we have to come up with a route down though. Heading down to Stockalp doesn’t work because the  bus isn’t running yet. The quick route down to Sachseln isn’t doable thanks to a bunch of steep, ugly snow. We head over the Wengenhorn to the next saddle and that route down, but that has the same steep, ugly snow problem. Ah well, we can just head down the other side; so we start along the trail towards Chlister.

The first part of the route down ends up being a bit of adventure, with some steep grass slope descents to cut corners, a bit of steep down through the woods to get on the path, and then a path that is surprisingly tricky to follow (despite being marked green on the online map). Still, we make it down to a road which we then follow, for what seems like a very long time, until we hit Giswil. There we have plenty of time to buy some snacks and cold beverages before getting on the train and starting the trip home.

Track:
Stats: 23km, ~2370m up, ~2350m down. (Those height stats are somewhat suspicious, drawing the track on the map gives ~1740m of altitude change, but that doesn't seem like enough and the fact that the ascent and descent numbers are so close to each other is reassuring)

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Climbing the Balmfluechoepfli

Another hike->climb->hike.

The multi-pitch routes up the south face of the Balmfluechöpfli are supposedly some of the longest multi-pitch routes in the Jura. We wanted to do one. They're also supposedly quite popular, so we wanted to get an early start.

Leaving Basel on the train at 6:30 and then hiking none-too-slow from Oberdorf got us to the parking lot below the trail up to the routes at around 9:00. There were loads of cars and climbers getting ready. Shit... maybe not early enough. Still, we continue up to check it out. This is a steep trail up, easy to follow (it's popular!) and with a funny bike stand (it's a joke) at the point where the approach trail branches off. There are people waiting to do the south ridge, but when we get to the south face and the start of our route, there are just two guys in front of us getting ready to go. By the time we're ready, they're well underway. There's another pair behind us, but they're planning a different route. Yay! not so crowded after all!

The climbing is very fun Jura multi-pitch. Finding the route isn't always easy, there's some walking between pitches, tree belays, etc. The protection was decent (though it's a good thing the last two 4a pitches on the ridge are easy, because they're pretty exposed and there's really not much protection there). Somehow Andrea ended up leading most of the 5a pitches in the first bit. We'll have to switch the order next time we do this. We'll also have to think about doing the (more difficult) tower pitches... that's a beautiful piece of rock.

Great weather, great day of climbing, happy greg and Andrea. :-)

up along the edge (3rd SL, 5a+)

last bit up the ridge (4a)