Friday, August 01, 2008

Four days in the Rätikon: Malbun->Schesaplanahütte

After a fairly long trip to Malbun involving a tram, a train, and two buses (one of which we had to ride in all the way across Liechtenstein!), we did a lazy start and took the lift up to Sareis (2003m) in drizzling rain that luckly stopped by the time we hit the top. From there it was a casual, slow climb to the Spitz (2186m), then a steeper way along the ridge to the Augstenberg (2359m) where we had decent views over the Swiss Alps and the Alpstein. Continuing to follow the ridge, we went down to the Pfälzerhütte (2108m, in a saddle) where we had a coffee and a snack before climbing up, up, up to the Naafkopf (2570m), the peak that lies at the three-way border between Switzerland, Austria, and Liechtenstein. This was entertainingly steep at the end.

One could imagine great views from the top, but we had to get them quickly as the clounds kept moving in and out. After a short break, it was down again (nowhere else to go from the peak) and along an unofficial path following stonemen back to the official path.
Following stonemen down from the Naafkopf

At the Barthümeljoch (2288m) we heard the first thunder, somewhere off in the distance. Along the way to the Gross Furgga we crossed a very steep snow patch that left Greg thinking back to the snow that turned us back above Iceberg Lake in Ansel Adams Wilderness. This snow was softer though, and a slip wouldn't have put us in a cold lake, plus the clouds were racing in, so crossing was a must. Clearly we didn't die.
By the time we reached the Gross Furgga (2359m) it was completely clouded in. Andrea assures Greg that the views are fantastic. From this point the thunder in the distance started getting a lot more frequent, so we had an additional spring in our step as we descended into the valley and along a path across a scree slope. After we get below the clouds we can see the hut in the distance and a bunch of ugly clouds caught on the ridge on the other side of the valley. We continue along the side of the valley for what seems like a very long time, hearing thunder, watching clouds come in from both sides, still managing to appreciate the incredible abundance of flowers, until we reach the Schesaplanahütte (1908m).

15 minutes later the sky cracks open... goooood timing! We spend a while sitting outside on a bench under an overhanging bit of roof enjoying cool beverages and watching the clouds and mountains deliver fireworks to celebrate the Swiss National Holiday.
Looking across the valley, under the clouds

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