Friday, August 10, 2012

HT Woche Berner Alpen Day 5: Sunrise on the Oberaarhorn then Oberaarjochhuette -> Oberaarsee

As agreed the day before, our smaller group of five gets up for breakfast at 4:00 a.m. and we're underway by 4:45. The first bit of the climb up to the Oberaarhorn is a scramble up through some block. Fun territory to be climbing through, but it's not particularly simple to find the path (marked with faded orange paint) with our headlamps. At one of our "where the hell is the path?" breaks, a pair of other climbers storms by us on their way up, so we follow them. They don't really know where the path is either, but if we're following someone else it must be the right way, right? ;-) Since we do eventually end up following orange markers again, this turns out to be exactly right.

We catch up to the other two at the bottom of the snow field as they're putting on their crampons and roping up. We put on the crampons, turn off the headlamps (it's more than light enough to climb up a snow field), and set out. We've got plenty of time, so we do the climb at a comfortable speed. As we climb it gets progressively lighter and the eastern horizon gets more and more orange; great fun to watch as the distance to the top shrinks. By 6:00 a.m. all five of us are on the peak. Other than the two other climbers, we have the place to ourselves (the hut is full, but most everyone else was doing glacier hiking, not mountains).

Up top the conditions are pretty much perfect: light wind, clear skies above us, thin cirrus clouds on the horizon to light up with the sun, and some cloud cover below us to make the views more dramatic. It's just fantastic. We all thank the one who proposed coming up in time to see the sunrise, take lots of pictures, ooh and ahh a lot, and generally enjoy the hell out of ourselves. After the sun is fully up and the light has lost the special "sunrise" quality, we make our way back to the hut with smiles on our faces.
"Here comes the sun..."
Three very happy climbers. Weisshorn, Matterhorn, Dom, and friends in the background
On the way back down through the rocks
Back at the hut we have another round of hot beverages, share pictures with the other three, pack up, and then the whole group heads out. At the pass we rope in and then head down the Oberaargletscher to the Oberaarsee (the reverse of the first day of the Vorderes Galmihorn trip) and the Berghaus Oberaar.
Down the glacier to the Oberaarsee

It's damn warm on the glacier (the joy of getting both direct and reflected sun!), so it's nice to move off onto rock towards the bottom and take off the crampons and bundle up the rope for the last time for this trip. After a short break we head down the path above the lake; it's fun to be back in green again for the first time in five days. We're ahead of schedule for meeting our taxi, so we have another break a few minutes before we hit the dam and some additional time to have a refreshing beverage at the hotel before getting in the taxi and heading down to Meiringen and the trains back to Basel.

It's a long, crowded, hot ride back, and we have the usual culture shock on returning from the mountains, but there are plenty of great images stuck in our heads. It was a good week in the mountains.

The track:

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