Sunday, May 31, 2015

A piece of the Niesengrat above Frutigen

This was another "let's have some fun during a training tour" tour. Andrea found descriptions of some pieces of the Niesengrat, which we've been talking about doing anyway, in one of the "more interesting hikes" books and the forecast said we should expect mostly sunny weather until clouds appear in the late afternoon, so we were set to go!

From the train station in Frutigen we start up and out of town with a few other people. Nicely for us, they all take the other way as we follow the signs for the Mäggiserehore. The path leads us through town and then up, up, the valley wall towards the Niesengrat. At first we're doing gentle climbing (no Andrea special here) along a nice path. This eventually gets steeper and the going a bit more challenging as we get out into the fields (the path is clearly not a super popular one!). Eventually we hit the Mäggiserenegg, the long ridge that comes down from the Mäggiserehore, and switch into direttissima mode: from Eggweid (1330m) to the ridge (2241m) the path has essentially no switchbacks; it's a great line on the map. The weather is good, but there are some clouds that seem to have not gotten the message that are hanging out on the ridge above us. We both really hope that they're going to be gone by the time we get up there... being in a cloud doesn't really improve the ridge-hiking experience.

Up, up, up we go. This ridge seems to be a very popular place to start paragliding: we see a large group of gliders and walk through their launch area. Since some of them are also using this to practice landing (and restarting) and since it's getting to be that time anyway, we stop for a sandwich break and watch the fun for a while. Then we continue our climb. Up, up, up until we hit the peak. We see one other hiker (coming down) as we go and see a couple of other folks ahead of us up on the peak and the ridge, but it is otherwise quiet. By the time we get up top of the Mäggiserehore (2348m), the clouds have indeed taken a break, so we get to enjoy the great views (probably would be spectacular if there weren't clouds obscuring the main Alp chain and some of the Voralpen) while having a short break.

The route along the ridge to the northeast is T4 and blue-white marked. It's sparingly marked, but the track is pretty obvious. There's still a bit of snow on the ridge, but not nearly enough to cause a problem. We continue on from the Mäggiserehore, passing a couple coming the other way while doing the "you have to go down to go up" thing that you do on ridges, and generally enjoy ourselves while making our way to the Tschipparällehore (2398m). Here we appreciate the views before continuing to the Steischlaghore (2321m). This stretch has a descent that is fine while doing it, but from the bottom doesn't look like it should be possible; these paths are great! On the Steischlaghore we do a quick sandwich break and consider our plans. We could theoretically continue further along the ridge (T5) to the Drunegalm and then head down into the Diemtigtal, but we decide that the combination of tired legs, time, and the not-overly-promising weather suggests that the descent to Frutigen wold be smarter. So down, down, down we go along a really nice path (there are switchbacks on this one! great news for the knees!) until we hit Frutigen and grab the train back home. This is the first time this year that we've done any significant descent, and it wasn't a short day to start with, so we are both definitely noticing tired legs by the time we get on the train.

We definitely need to go back and do more of the Niesengrat; it's a very nicely situated ridge and there's tons more good hiking left to do!
The track:

Total: ~14km, 1750m up and down

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Long weekend in Konstanz

Visiting for Norman's birthday.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Climbing over Klus

The forecast made it seem like a good day for climbing, so off we went to Klus.
We seemed to be the first to arrive at the Klettergarten (there were two other couples on the train); the quiet didn't last long.

Routes (all in sector D):

  • Eidechsenplatte (4b)
  • No Name (5a)
  • Kleine Föhre (4c+/5a)
  • Sunntigs Türli (5a)
  • Treppe (4c)
We could have climbed some more, but we ended up leaving because it was getting crowded enough that it just wasn't as much fun.

Friday, May 15, 2015

From Hergiswil to Pilatus along the east ridge

Originally intended to be a training tour, this ended up being quite a nice one in its own right. The idea is from "Alpinwandern in den Voralpen: zwischen Saane and Reuss". We took the train to Hergiswil and then walked along the shore of the lake, around the corner, and then up, up with the hiking path. It's a nice climb, mainly under trees, with a good breeze, up, up, for the first few hundred meters. After a bit of contouring we climb again, switching back under the trees, until hitting the ridge at p839. The views are awesome, we really have great weather, and we're mostly alone (we a few bikers and a very small number of hikers coming the other way). Now a longer contour under the ridge until we hit the Renggpass, where we switch back to the ridge and start climbing again. Partway up this climb we take a break and eat a bit while enjoying the views to the north. Onward onward, under the Chrummhorn, climbing steadily, until the Tellenfadlücke. At this point we head off the red-white marked path and switch to the path described in our book that takes us further along the ridge.
looking up to the Pilatus
This next stretch leads us further up, up, up, through woods, sometimes over, sometimes around rocks, constantly climbing until we hit the broad grass flank below the Windegg. Here we see the first other hikers of the day who are going the same direction we are. We take another quick break to eat something and enjoy the great views and then start the last bit of climbing up to the Rosegg. This is nice, steep, varied, T4 hiking, big fun! At the saddle past the Steiglihorn we join the path that comes up from the Galtigentürme and then continue to the Rosegg.
looking down along the east ridge
We both want to do the last T5 bit up to the Esel east wall again, but we weren't sure whether or not this would be feasible given the conditions (there is still some snow around) so this is a decision point. Fortunately we see a couple other people doing the path and watch them clear the one snow patch without trouble, so that's an easy decision. Off we go, walking and scrambling and walking and scrambling, over the big snow patch (not sure I'd want to be the first one to do this), up, up, up until we hit the top at the Esel, climb the fence, and go enjoy the panoramic views. This really is a *great* stretch of path.
path up the east wall
Up top we stop for some quick refreshments (cold beverages and french fries) and then work our way through the tourists in the tunnels to start our way down the North side. We want to do at least some descent on this trip, so the plan is to head down at least as far as the first gondola station. This is the same route as what we came up with Kristen some years ago. At the church we would have preferred the more direct descent towards the east, but there's way too much snow for that, so we take the more scenic route. It's a good descent, followed by a bit more climbing (not necessary!) and then we head down the last bit, past the rodelbahn, to the gondola station. The line is scary long, but it moves fast, and 15 minutes later we start the long gondola ride down.

Andrea pointed out somewhere along the way that this wasn't really a training tour: it was too varied and interesting in its own right. That makes it even better. :-)

The track:

We did 1899m up, 934m down, and covered 14.6km.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Training tour to Chrindi via the Simmeflue

The weather forecast was excellent for Sunday and it's (past) time to start getting in shape for the season, so we got an early start and headed to the Simmeflue. We were here a couple of years ago, so there's no need to describe the (very nice) hike up to the Sunnighore. After enjoying the views we head back down the fork and follow the ridge. This time we skip the diversions up to the other little peaks along the ridge and push on. We do our lunch break (and a short nap, luxury!) in the fields above Unters Heiti before continuing across the fields, past Obers Heiti, up and past Matte (lots of cars parked here), and then along the road to Steinig Nacki.
fields above Unters Heiti

looking back down to Steinig Nacki, lake Thun and the Bernese Alps in the back
This little bowl is great, the terrain suddenly starts to look wild and alpine. Through the bowl we go, skirting some snowfields, climbing, climbing, until we cross the last steep snow patch and come out on the broad ridge at the Furgge. From here we have a great view of the Stockhorn, our nominal destination. At the fork that leads down to the Chrindi we decide that neither of us really needs to do the last 300m up to the Stockhorn (already done 1600m of vertical), so we turn off to the left and head to the gondola station (been here before too) and begin the trip home.

An excellent Sunday hike. It was great to be out, moving, and enjoying the sun and views!

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Work visit to Lisbon

We both spent the week at a conference in Lisbon. The organizers allotted a surprising amount of free/unstructured time, so we actually had time to see a bit of the city.