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 Brünnelistock 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).

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 Bockmattlihütte (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!

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:

Friday, May 26, 2017

Day 2 around the Grigna: Cresta Segantini

Breakfast doesn't start until 8, so we can't really get an early start, but we're underway as quickly as we can be. There are, once again, low clouds over the peaks above us... ah well, we will hope those burn off. The same trail as yesterday (though moving a bit more slowly due to the packs full of climbing gear) up to the fork with the 8, which we follow this time. Fortunately the group of people we've run into stay on the 7th, so we're alone... excellent! Despite being called "Direttissima", the 8 leads up, up, up by traversing the mountain. Ignoring the misleading name, this is another excellent trail which ends up leading us up ladders, across bits secured with chains and cables, through a narrow chimney, and all of this in a crazy landscape of stone towers. Great fun!

Eventually we make our way to the ridge at the Colla Vasecchi and find our way to the (very well signed) beginning of the route for the Cresta Segantini. Here we put on the gear and head to where the actual climbing starts. We tie on the rope and get underway. We're in cloud but it's not too thick, so visibility is ok; the cloud has the side benefit of keeping the temperatures down. There's a pair of Italians in front of us, but they're far enough ahead that we never have to wait (plus with the cloud we can generally only hear them anyway). Since we don't end up with anyone behind us we're pretty much alone until we hit the peak. The ridge is really a huge amount of fun. It's mostly alpine climbing, but the climbing is never difficult (we're not wearing climbing shoes) and there tends to be a bolt near the trickier bits (and when those aren't there we have a few friends, the stoppers, and plenty of slings with us, so we can improvise). The markings were pretty good, so route finding wasn't that bad (though we ended up abseiling a couple of descents where we either missed the straightforward climb down or there just wasn't one). With our lunch break along the way the full ridge takes us about five and half hours; the book says two to three hours, so we really aren't especially fast. That's something for us to continue to practice,

For the trip down we continue along the really nice trail along the ridge until we hit the intersection between trails 1 and 3 from the previous day. Here we continue down trail 1 to get back to the hotel.

This was our first trip with a new rope (60m Mammut 9.5mm Infinity Dry SD).

The track (plenty of noise due to the climbing):

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Day 1 around the Grigna

We took a couple trains down through the Gotthard and on to Como. From there we picked up our rental car and drove past Lecco to the Piani Resinelli and our hotel for the weekend. After checking in and having lunch down in town (mmm, pizzochieri) we had a short nap and then opted to do a reconnaissance tour to get ready for Friday morning's start.

We manage to find the normal hiking path and head along through the woods, past the CAI hut, and then start our way up the 7, the standard tourist route to the Grigne. We head past the fork of trail 8, which we'll take tomorrow, and continue up, up the hill with progressively better views opening up behind us. There are a few too many low clouds (including in front of us) for the views to be optimal, but it's still pretty good. Up, up we continue, figuring we'll get to the top of the current bit of ascent and then head back down. We end up hitting the fork for trail 3 just shy of our turn-around point. Doing a bit of traverse seems fun, so we head off to the right along the 3. The terrain in front of us keeps getting more and more interesting, so we play the "just around the next corner/to the next saddle" game until we hit the crossing with trail 2. This one is probably a bit hairy for us at the moment, the terrain is really nice/fun, and the 1, which will also take us back down to the hotel, is only another 20 minutes further. So on we go. Up, up, up some more, past some peaks that are possible destinations for Saturday's tour, until we hit the 1 in a saddle on the ridge. From here it's down, down, down, along another nice trail with good views, down, down down, past the bravest chamoix we've ever seen, until the trail ends at the road. Our short reconnaissance tour has ended up being a really nice 3 hour hike. Five minutes later we're back at the hotel where we enjoy a good meal and then head off to bed.

No real track since we had planned this as a short trip.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Back to the Brueggligrat

add some text

the track:
Stats: 12.7km, about 620m up and down.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Delemont to Neuhüsli again

We've done this hike before.

Just like last time we did it, this pick was driven by the weather forecast; the difference this time is that we explicitly set out to do a long, relatively fast hike as a part of getting ready for the season/testing where we are.

I've already described most of the hike, which really is very nice (it's great to have something like this available as a backup!). The noteworthy stuff this time:

The trails were pretty empty; we saw a total of seven other hikers over the entire day. Likely because of this we startled three deer and a owl. Those were pretty cool encounters.

We mostly managed to not get rained on except for the small cloudmass that overtook us on the last bit up to Hohe Winde. First it was sprinkling, then it was really raining (even under the trees), then it was hailing, and then, more or less at the same time as we got to the stall in the saddle just before the final slope, it stopped. We verified that it was really over while hanging out in the stall and then continued on. By the time we got the top the sun was shining, which lead to some nice views. Super luckily for us, that cloud formation didn't start producing thunder and lightning until after it was past us: Vogelberg and Wassserfallen probably had lightning.
The color of this hike was definitely green. We've had plenty of precipitation lately and the sheer variety of late-spring/early-summer greens was just nuts.
The restaurant at Vorder Erzberg was closed (they are on vacation this week; outrageous!), but luckily there was a self-service fridge, so we could get a cold beer to enjoy with the last of our lunch.

The decision to go down to Neuhüsli was, again, made because of time constraints. In retrospect we probably could have made it to Passwang if we'd pushed. Ah well... the consequences of not making it were either another hour of hiking or two hours of waiting, so we wimped out. Next time!

The track:
Stats: ~1580m up, ~1330m down, 29.7 km.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A long walk along Le Doubs

After the day of ridge climbing we have decided for a long river and forest walk, contrast program!

It's another beautiful weather day, and warmer than the day before, as we set out from Le Noirmont and head down, down, down through the woods to the Doubs. The last bit of this is along a really nice path past cool limestone formations. At the bottom we cross the bridge at La Goule and pick up a blue and yellow marked path on the French side that takes us along the river; we don't know it yet, but we'll be following blue and yellow markings for the rest of our time on the French side.
crossing the bridge across the Doubs to the French side
The path takes us calmly through the canyon and along the river, mostly through trees, with nice views along and across the river (cool cliffs over on the Swiss side), with a bit of up and a bit of down, completely alone (except for a couple of fisherman we pass at one point) for a couple of hours until we hit the power plant. Here we are back around people. From the parking lot we follow the path up the side of the canyon, past the beginning of the klettersteig, and to the much-advertised "Echelles de la Mort". These were no doubt very dramatic when they were wood ladders used by smugglers, but in their current form they are basically metal staircases: efficient, but not super dramatic. After the stairs we spend a bit of time watching people on the klettersteig (it's got both a long hanging bridge and a nepal wire bridge visible from up here) before setting off and continuing to head up, up towards the top of the cliffs. Onwards we go, still on a nice (blue-yellow!) path through the woods until we come out of the woods near the small house at les Cotes. Here we have a long (for us) lunch break sitting in the soft grass and enjoying the sun and views.

through the trees
After lunch we continue along the path, following the top of the ridge, including a bit of cool narrow path near the Grotte des Moines, past the excellent Belvedere, and then onward to the house at La Cendree. Here we check the time, think about possibilities for getting back (we've been going for five hours and about 15km so far) and opt to continue along the top of the ridge. Aside: there are a bunch of very well marked climbing routes here. We're moving a bit faster now, but can still appreciate how really nice the path is (reminiscent of other Jura ridges: a plateau to one side and steep drop to the other). At the town of Fournet-Blancheroche we head along the road to Blancheroche and then on a path across the fields before starting a steep descent down, down, down through the woods to La Rasse. Now we're on the Doubs again (very wide here) and we follow the flat and easy path along the shore to the Lac de Biaufond, where we cross back into Switzerland.

views from the top of the ridge
Now it's decision time: we can either wait two hours here and then take the bus to Chaux de Fonds to grab the train home or we can walk through an interesting gorge and then up to La Ferriere where we can get the same train home. This isn't a particularly difficult choice even though we will need to move reasonably quickly (we've got 2:10 to catch the train and the signs say that it will take 2:20). Since time is short, we skip the refreshing beverage at the restaurant and continue along the broad, very popular path along the the valley floor. As soon as the path narrows a bit we are on our own and we continue up, and around the corner into the gorge. This really is a great path: the sides are steep, there are cool bridges and raised walkways and mysterious moss-draped trees. The only thing that's missing is burbling water: the stream is completely dry. We continue through the gorge at a good clip, enjoying ourselves a lot, and eventually hit the ladders at the end. These are a bit more dramatic than the "Echelles de la Mort" from earlier, particularly since the second one is a bit rusty! A bit past the Cul des Pres we hit a brunnen (very convenient since we're quite low on water!) where we fill our bottles and refresh ourselves a bit before making the final push. This last bit stretches on for a while: it's been a long day and, though it's a nice forest road, it's still a forest road. Up, up we go the last 200m until we come out in La Ferriere. It's pretty strange to climb at the end of day to a town instead of descending to it. :-)
along the walkways through the gorge
We have made really good time and have ~30 minutes until the train, so we stop at the restaurant next to the station to have some cool beverages and buy a couple of pastries before getting on the train to start the long(ish) trip home.

This was quite a long day, but the character of the hike was constantly changing, the weather was good, and the views were really nice. A very good day!

The track:
The totals: 28.9km, 1160m up, 1090m down

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Arete des Sommetre

We've been talking about this one for a few years but the travel time (2 hours for a Jura trip!) has always stopped us from doing it. Not this time!

On the train to Noirmont we see lots of snow; worrying considering that we are about to do a long ridge. Ah well; we'll just see how it goes.

In Noirmont we walk through town and then down (!) into canyon towards the Doubs. The canyon is in shadows and the temperature is other than warm.  While crossing a field we get a good sneak preview of the ridge - very impressive! At some point we turn off the path and head steeply up to the cliff face where we follow a path up, up to a saddle at the end of the ridge. After looking down the other side (not much to see) we pick a sunny spot and put on the climbing gear. Then it's on to the ridge. As we are leaving another group comes up onto the saddle behind us; we'll just hope that we are quicker than them!
good view of the ridge
 After getting up the step and to the real beginning of the ridge there's a bit of real climbing (even with two bolts!) that's easy but made harder by the cold (stupidly, neither of us has brought gloves with us and the fingers get pretty cold). After that we are mostly in the sun and the going is easier. The ridge is a mixture of walking and scrambling with the very occasional bit of climbing mixed in. Conditions are good - beautiful weather and very little snow left on the ridge - and the route is generally easy to find - there's either a trail or crampon scratches from people doing the route in the winter. Aside from a couple of spots where we have to descend (the first of which takes us much too long to figure out how to do safely) and one or two very exposed bits we don't really need the rope at all. Ah well, it's good practice!
on the ridge
Including a short lunch break we're done with the ridge after 3:45. The last bit has us climbing over the railing onto the peak of the Sommetre, that's always fun. We have another break, eat a bit more, and then enjoy the sun and views before packing everything up and heading back along normal paths to Noirmont. As we're sitting there the group that was behind us comes into view (a ways back) with another group behind them. Easy to imagine the ridge being very, very full on summer weekends!
panorama views from the ridge
Back on Noirmont we check into our hotel, have showers and a nap, take a short stroll, have a very good meal, and then fall asleep.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Up to the Niederhorn

This was the our usual Spring "check the status of the legs" tour. There's still too much snow to do the Niesen, so we choose the Beatenberg and the Niederhorn. We've been here before, but did a different tour that time.

Today we start in Beatenbucht under cloudy skies and take the path up, up, up through the woods, making good time, until we hit the station at Beatenberg. Here we turn left and follow the road until it turns upwards through the woods towards the ridge. Now it's more up, up, up along the ridge, under the trees, through some mud, through some snow, and eventually into a bit of cloud. We take a short snack and water break as we cross the bend in the road that leads to Vorsass, but mainly it's just up, up, up. It's a nice path and there would be, at times, great views, but today there's none of that. Eventually the path takes us to the peak, behind the gondola station. There aren't a lot of people up here, but certainly more than we'd been seeing. We take advantage of the nice wooden lounge chairs up there (empty thanks to the weather and lack of views) and have another short food break. Since we're doing well on time we opt to stop in at the restaurant for some beverages and soup while we plan our route back down.
snow and clouds
After the break we continue along the ridge with no views and more snow than last time, to Oberburgfeld. Here we descend steeply to Unterburgfeld and then turn off to follow the path to the Bireflue. During this descent things finally clear up enough to see some of the view that we've been missing all day. Ah! View! Next on a fun path steeply down through the Bireflue and then more descending (constantly following signs to Beatenberg, which is really long), through Wydi and then down, down, down to Sundlauenen where we get the bus towards Interlaken and the train back to Basel.
steep down through the Bireflue
It was kind of a crap weather day (though it didn't rain on us), but still a good hike and test of our general fitness level: we're doing fine. :-)
The track:
Totals: 14.3km, 1460m up, 1380m down.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Running in the Croatan National Forest

Inspired by how nice (and flat) the trails were the previous day, we decided to do some trail-running.

We really were completely unprepared for this, so we had to pick up a backpack to use as well as doing the usual lunch shopping.

The route starts as the same type of nice trail as the day before: all under the trees, nicely soft, a few roots to dodge.  There are some muddy bits later that require  slowing down to navigate, but nothing too bad. At some point we come out into a clearing and the trail is suddenly somewhat more difficult to follow and overgrown, after the second encounter with  unpleasant thorns we drop to a fast walk. We manage to lose the trail and get to do a somewhat adventurous marshy stream crossing, but afterwards the path is right there.

After an hour we hit a good spot for lunch, so we stop there. Cool snake spotting at the beginning of the break, but after he takes off (before Andrea can get a decent picture!) we find relatively comfy places to sit and  enjoy a good lunch. This is a somewhat longer break than normal and we start back with well rested legs.

It's the same trail back (though better handling of that stream crossing since we don't lose the trail) and then we enjoy another break and chance to cool our feet in the river before hopping back in the car and driving on.

The track:

Stats: 15km, ~170m

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hiking in the Croatan National Forest

As part of a visit to greg's family we spent a couple days in Beaufort NC. We took one of the days to do a hike in the Croatan National Forest, starting in the Pine Creek parking area.

This was a nice hike on an easy path through the woods, along the beach, on walkways across swampy areas, etc. It's easy to see how this path, which is about 40km long and has a couple of places along it where you can camp, could be popular for groups wanting to practice some backpacking. Still, it was early season and we were alone through most of the hike: we just saw a few people on the beach area when we came back.

Noteworthy stuff:

  • We saw some large predatory bird with a nest (and chicks) in a tree right on the water. We didn't see enough of the bird to be able to begin to ID it
  • We did see a bald eagle flying over us.
  • We also had lots of military planes flying over us. The very close proximity of the marine air base is not a net plus for this route.
  • The shelter we passed had a pump which we managed to make work after Andrea found the instructions, but the water was "a bit" too metallic to be enjoyable. Still, having it there would make the backpacking a lot easier.
  • This must be some kind of record for us in terms of the minimum number of vertical meters on a hike this long. :-)
The track:

Stats: 24.7km, ~200m up and down.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Sunday walk from Pratteln to Muenchenstein

The weather was beautiful, so getting out and doing some walking was a must.
This was another one of those make-it-up-as-we-go-along hikes. We hopped on the S-Bahn from Basel, decided along the way to get off in Pratteln, and then just started walking uphill (always a good strategy).

Our route took us over the Schauenburgflue (there were climbers on the face), where we had lunch along with a big group of older hikers, along the canton border and past Schoenmatt, then down and towards Muechenstein. Along the way we picked a good supply of Baerlauch (Andrea was prepared with a big ziploc bag) to celebrate the spring.
on the way to the Schauenburgflue

lots of Baerlauch
We opted to stop in Muenchenstein and grab the tram back to Basel from there. A nice day out in the sunny springtime Jura!

Track to come.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Clean climbing practice at Grandval

After bouncing a bunch of options around for the day we decided to go to Grandval and do some clean practice in the "initiation" sector. The routes were unfortunately all a bit short, but there are some nice cracks that make it a good place to practice. There are also numerous places where there's a good placement a short distance above a bolt, so we were both able to do some good testing of our placements. By the end of the day we'd reached the point where we were both comfortable using a bolt at the bottom of the route and self-set protection for the rest of it.
a belt full of stuff
setting placements
 Great weather, fun climbing, and we had the sector to ourselves. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spring Climbing in Tessin

We got lucky with the weather and had three days of sun and warm forecast for Tessin, so off we went to get in some climbing. It's becoming a tradition for the early spring! This time instead of staying in Locarno we picked a hotel right at Ponte Brolla. Super convenient: get up, have breakfast, walk to climbing. :-)
our bed right underneath the rocks
The trip down was our first trip through the new Gotthard basis tunnel. It's pretty wild to go through a 57 km tunnel and excellent to have 30 minutes lopped off our travel time to Bellinzona.

After arriving we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed right for the big climbing area at the Rovine del Castelliere. As a warmup we started with Farfalla (3c, greg leading) wearing our approach shoes (it's been a while since we did any slabs... this was an adventurous start!). We then moved off to the sector from last year's clean climbing course and did a mix of Pizzoccheri and Origano (4b) followed by a mix of Sunneblume and L'Intifada (5a, with great practice crack) to get in some practice with the friends. After the clean practice Andrea lead us up Schogsii, we did a nice snack break to enjoy the views and sun, greg did some mix of Chritin and the routes to either side of it (this was somehow a tricky route to follow), and then we abseiled back down a pitch (practice, practice!) before walking back to enjoy a beer at the Osteria on the corner in the last of the sun (also a tradition by now). Then back to the hotel for a shower and a great meal.
clean climbing practice

Saturday we got a reasonably early start and headed off to the other side of the valley to do Speroni di Ponte Brolla (11 SL, 5a, 5a, 5a, 5b, 5b, 5b, 5a+, 5a, 5b (2p.a.), 5b, 4b, Andrea started). We did the first "half" of this (though on an easier line to the left of the one this time) last year and then abseiled down. This time we went to the top. This is the longest multi-pitch that we've done to this point at the highest sustained difficulty level. The climbing was great and we had a blast, but after about 5 hours of climbing - we did a food break after the first "half" (i.e. between the slab section and the part where it gets steep) - we were definitely aware that we'd done something. It was fantastic to be completely alone on such a great route (we saw people far below on the slabs when we were mostly to the top, but that was it). The long lunch break in the sun at the top was well earned and we enjoyed it fully. The trip back down to the valley through the gorge also ended up being pretty adventurous. I'm sure later in the season this is easy to follow, but this early it wasn't always trivial to figure out where we should be going (other than "down", that part was easy). The post-climbing beers in the sun at the Osteria were particularly nice. :-)
looking down

Sunday we headed to Monte Garzo where we did Harlem (5 SL, 4c, 5b, 5a, 5a, 4b, greg started). This is the route we got rained out of last year, so it was nice to come back and have lovely dry conditions. After a nice route we also managed a very successful abseil - where success is measured by efficiency and lack of chaos ;-) - and then did a good lunch break in the sun before starting the long trip back home.

It was a great weekend of climbing. Lots of good practice and fun in the sun. :-)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Trail run from Liestal to Basel

Greg's first "real" trail run

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Snowshoeing in Graubunden: Peist to Küblis

Finally a good-weather weekend with a decent avalanche report; off to the mountains we went to do some snowshoeing!

The trains were as full as one would expect for a sunny winter Saturday morning, but we still had seats the whole way to our start point in Peist. No one else got off the (mostly still full) train there, so it's easy to guess what things must have been like in Arosa.

Of we started up, up through town and then out following the signs to Faninpass. After a bit on the road and then some snow (not as much as one might hope for; it's been sunny and we're on a South-facing slope) we reach a point where there's sufficient snow to mount the snow shoes. The on and up we go, enjoying the good views and the pretty direct path through the woods. There's an easy track to follow (yay! no tramping our own path this time!) up and up. At Zerfalta we see the first other people of the day: two snowshoers who have, unfortunately,  occupied the bench in the sun with a view. Ah well, we walk a few meters further and do a nice break sitting in the snow.

After the break we continue onwards and up, less steeply now, until we get to the top of the broad shoulder near Zaluenja. Onwards we continue, mostly contouring but climbing a bit, towards the Arflinafurgga. By this point we're following a trail left by a couple of skiers, so there is some snow-tramping to do and the going is a bit slower. From the pass we have a great view down to the Fideriser Heuberg (in fact, this pass was our intended destination on day 1 of that trip). But we aren't going down there! Theoretically at this point we have the option to continue up the ridge and do the last vertical meters up to to the Mattjisch Horn or to contour around the face of the peak to the Blackter Fürggli. Given that the second option has no trail and would require tramping the show the whole way, we opt to go up. The view from the peak make it well worth the bit of extra climbing. No big surprise there. :-)

view from the Mattjisch Horn
From the peak we continue a bit along the ridge and then turn down the face of the slope towards Strassberg. After a bit of descent we traverse along a well-tramped trail to the Skihaus Casanna, our destination for the evening. After checking in and a cool beverage we have a short rest, a good meal and then retire for the evening with memories of nice views and the sun on our faces.

On Sunday after a good breakfast we head up the valley in the cold (no sun down here yet!), through Strassberg, and then follow a ski-touring trail along the road, gently climbing towards the ridge while traversing under the Chistenstein. Once we hit the sun (after maybe 30 minutes of walking), it's another beautiful day. Onward we go, following one or another of the ski-touring trails, until we hit the ridge between the Chistenstein and the Drimarchenspitz. We take a break and enjoy the sun, views, and solitude (we haven't really seen anyone yet today). The last bit to the Chistenstein looks decidedly unfriendly (though we don't head all the way over, it looks like there's scrambling involved, which wouldn't be all that fun in snowshoes), so we opt to head directly down into the bowl towards Duranma. This is a descent in deep snow, big fun!. In the bowl we do a bit of tramping until we make it to the path up to the pass between the Chistenstein and the Glatt Bärgji. At the pass we head steeply down the other side and follow the remains of a ski trail, planning to descend between the two sets of cliffs. On the way down to this divide we pass two groups of ski-tourers, one coming up. After a minute we realize that the second group had actually turned around and was heading back up. Odd, then we realized that it got a bit steep in front of us. Thanks to the deep powdery snow this ended up being no problem (actually a lot of fun), but it wouldn't have been possible with either hard snow or shallow snow. We are, in any case, the first to have traversed this slope since the last time is snowed (well, maybe not, we crossed the remains of a small avalanche that may have wiped out some tracks). At the bottom of the slope we turn towards the house at 1901m in the Malanser Tarnuz. This time the bench isn't occupied, so we have another nice food break in the sun... what a life!

down from the pass
After a bit of a rest we continue on our way. Now we're contouring around the slope, following a track from some skiiers. The first bit is interesting because it leads across the remains of a couple of old (and small) avalanches. You get cool glimpses between the lumps of snow into the very blue spaces in between; nice stuff. On we go, starting to slowly descend. At some point we pick up the trail that leads us down, down, down, through the forest. This bottoms out at a point where we choose to take the road (with its switchbacks) instead of descending a couple of steep bits in the open (greg's not thrilled with the idea of doing steep bits on crappy snow). By the time the road is down to just a layer of ice we're at the switchback above Bonersch Wis and we switch back to the snow. Down a bit more until we run out of snow and walk the rest of the way through the woods down to Strahlegg. From there a path through the woods takes us to Küblis and the (very full) trains back home.

Another good (and long!) day.

Here's the track for the whole thing:

Saturday 11.5km, 1214m up, 612m down.
Sunday 18.8km, 735m up, 1880m down.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Running in NYC

A nice path around Manhattan. Including the Highline.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Snowshoetrip to Vorder Stockealp

text and track to come.