Saturday, June 13, 2009

SAC ice course: Tierberglihuette

This was our second time doing the SAC-Basel ice course. The bus dropped us all off over the Steingletscher lake (lots, and lots, and lots of people on the lower bits of the glacier) where we divided into groups and then headed up onto the glacier to start the course. Last time we had to climb almost 1000m before getting to the glacier; this time it started pretty much at the parking lot (thus the lots and lots of lots of people).

We started with some practice on using the ice axe to stop yourself from sliding after falling (with some more adventurous practice runs than last time), then roped in and practiced handling someone else falling while moving on the rope. After some good fun, we put on the crampons and headed up the glacier to the Tierberglihuette. Neither of us is a big fan of hiking on a rope, but we both more or less (Greg more, Andrea less) got used to it along the way. In complete contrast to last year, it was an absolutely beautiful day, so we had great views of the surrounding area (the Sustenhorn, the Gadmertal, the back side of Titlis, etc.). We also saw a couple of very nice ice falls along the way that served to demonstrate quite vividly why you don't walk under broken bits of glacier. Upon reaching the hut, the day was more or less done; we practiced a bit with the rope (shortening the rope and packing it up), but that was more or less it aside from enjoying the views. The hut was completely full (~60 of us, another group of around 10, and one or two people alone), so the atmosphere was predictably entertaining.

We started Sunday with a little tour to the Vordere Tierberg. After an early breakfast (we were underway by 7:30), we roped in and headed up to the Tierbergl├╝cke. Along the way we wondered at a couple of ski-touring people climbing (ice climbing) the essentially sheer North-East face of the mountain. At the saddle we switched to a short-rope technique and climbed the very steep last 100m to the peak. The top was pretty crowded (the two crazy touring-ski people, another group from our course, a group of snowboarders with dog), so we just stayed a few minutes before turning around and heading back down to the hut. I guess this counts as our first real mountaineering tour. :-)

The next part of the course was practicing rescue techniques on the nice ice wall next to the hut. We did the same basic technique as last year with the inevitable modifications due to different people being present. To wrap up we were each lowered over the wall and then we practiced climbing up under our own power (but with two ice axes to help).

The way down was along the summer hiking path (blue-white). There was still plenty of snow so we did most of the vertical by heading straight down firn fields. This was also nice practice for moving in steep territory and butt-sliding technique. :-) At the bottom we met up with the rest of the groups and had a rest until the bus came to take us back to Meiringen and the train home.

Once again we shared the train back with kids coming from the open-air festival in Interlaken, but this time the timing was different so they didn't completely fill the train. So the train ride wasn't as entertaining/horrifying as last time. :-)

Unfortunately we forgot to turn the tracker on for the trip down, so that's sketched in by hand.

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