Sunday, June 29, 2008

A day in the Voralpen

The weather forecast was promising, so we set off to the mountains for a nice Gratwanderung.
When we got on the bus in Thurnen it was clear that we weren't the only ones with this idea: The first bus was full and the extra second bus (which we were on) was also pretty much full.
After getting off the bus (along with about 100 other people) at Wasserscheidi (1584m, 9:15am), we got a bit of a jump on the crowd and headed off towards the Leiterpass. On the way up we passed two good-sized parking lots, also completely full, and saw loads and loads of people.

We made the Leiterpass (1905m) in the middle of a crowd, had a quick snack while admiring the view out over the Alps, and then headed off along the Chrummifadeflue. Luckily for us at this point a large portion of the crowd was turning the other way and another large portion took the route up through the Schwalmere. By the time we made it up to the Homadsattel (1960m) we were alone. It seems like everyone else stayed down on the panoramaweg. After another quick snack, we followed the ridge up to the Homad (2076m), where the Gratwanderung portion of the program began.
looking back towards Leiternpass

From here we followed the ridge along past the Möntschelespitz (2021m) and a couple other minor view points. Up on the ridge the number of people was much more reasonable: smaller groups and not as many of them.

View along the ridge to the Stockhorn, Thunersee and Bernese Alps in the back.

We made it to the end of the ridge ahead of the oncoming clouds and then headed down to Oberi Walalp (1714m). The plan from here was to head up to the Stockhorn and take the gondola down, but the peak itself was inside a cloud and the weather was starting to look a bit iffy, so we took the low route and walked around the corner to the Oberstocksee (1665m) and then up a bit to the Berggasthaus Oberstocke (1776m) where we had cool drinks and a snack. A bit of descent to the Hinderstocksee (1592m) and then we were at the lower gondola station: Chrindi (1637m, 3:30pm). We took the gondola down to Erlenbach (722m) and made it to the train station just as the rain started.

By the time we changed trains in Spiez the sky had really cracked open and rain was coming down like crazy.

This was a really nice hike, with lots of variation and a good portion along the ridge.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

SAC Ice Course

We took part in a course organized by the SAC Basel for learning about how to organize and do glacier trips.

Starting from the bus stop at the Räterichsbodensee (1767m) the group (more than 60 people) walked up to the Bächlitalhütte (2328m). After dropping off our extra stuff and having lunch, we then all headed up onto the Bächligletscher (~2700m) to practice roping up, traveling on the rope, using the ice pick, moving around in crampons, and the basics of what to do when someone falls into a crevasse.
After heading back to the hut and having dinner there was a bit of discussion about trip planning and equipment.

Sunday we headed up to the glacier again and did more rescue practice, further walking around on the rope, anchoring to the ice using ice screws, traversing steep ice faces.

We finished by being lowered into a crevasse and climbing/being pulled out (Greg skipped this because he didn't have a helmet and was tired).

Then we headed back down to the hut, repacked our packs, and went back to the Räterichsbodensee for the bus home. Along the way we did some nice butt sledding on the really steep bits of snow. :-)

The weather was mostly pretty grim: overcast and snowing, often with limited visibility. But at least it wasn't raining.

One big lesson from the weekend: if we're going to do more of this stuff we definitely need proper mountain shoes. Our trekking boots just aren't up to the task of being in snow for hours or doing steep faces in crampons.

The train back from Interlaken was completely full of kids on their way home from an open-air festival; what a culture shock that was!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Weekend in Aachen

We went up to Aachen for the weekend for Elke's birthday and to see old friends.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Laufen -> Allschwil

This was another "make it up as you go along" type of hike. The plan was to take the train to Laufen, head up onto the ridge of the Blaueberg, and then decide what to do from there.

We started in Laufen (411m) just before 11am and then headed up past the Bergmattenhof and onto the ridge at the Metzlerenchrüz. This path had a truly incredible number of wild strawberries and various brambles. Unfortunately nothing was ripe (the berries were still green and it's much too early for brambles). After a short lunch break we headed down the other side, past Steiherrenberg, through Mariastein (amazingly full of tourists from all over the place), and then on to Flüh (391m). We still weren't overly tired so we continued along through Bättwil, to Biel-Benken. After another assessment of our legs (all systems go), we headed on to Allschwil via the Mülibach. In Allschwil we caught a tram the rest of the way home at 4:30.

This was quite a nice, and fairly long, hike. The sky was overcast all day, but the temperatures were reasonable and it never rained on us.