Friday, August 19, 2011

Back to the Alpstein Day 1: Wasserauen->Hundstein Hütte

We'd been talking all summer about celebrating the five year anniversary of our first multi-day hike in the Swiss mountains: our trip to the Alpstein by heading back for a long weekend. So when our planned SAC trip along the Via Alta Valle Maggia was cancelled, we didn't have to think too long about what to do.

After getting off the train at Wasserauen (along with a whole bunch of other people, almost all of whom immediately head for the gondola) we follow the path to the South and, as expected, head up the valley side towards the Bogartenlücke. The path is good, the weather is beautiful, it's a pleasure to be out walking. Through the woods, across fields, past the turnoff to Seealpsee, up, up, up we head. At the pass we take a quick sandwich and drink break and enjoy the views out the other way (including Bollenwees, which is not far from our destination for the day).

We descend a bit and then turn off onto the blue-white marked path that leads us through a couloir and then up, up to the ridge of the Marwees. Here we have really excellent panoramic views and a good strong headwind (lucky it's a headwind... if it were coming from the side on a ridge like that it probably would have made Greg nervous). At the cross we take another short sandwich break to soak in the views before continuing along the rest of the ridge (boy is it windy) and heading down a bit towards the Widderalpsattel.
 We have another break (and a nap in the sun!) before heading down to the pass. Our next waypoint, the Hundstein, is clearly visible, as is the chimney about the path that we're planning on heading up through, but it still looks completely impossible without climbing gear.

From the Widderalpsattel there's a blue-white path that leads steeply up to the chimney. After a bit, the way gets scrambly, so we pack the sticks away and start using our hands more. The first bit has some good scrambling that takes a bit of thought, but the biggest challenge is to try and not kick loose any rocks (definitely would want to be wearing a helmet in here if there were other people about). Steeply up we go, across a grass band, and then into a chimney that leads up the mountain. We scramble and climb our way up mostly to the top and then follow the path back around the north side and then the rest of the way to the peak. We enjoy the views and feeling of accomplishment for a bit and then start back down.
Instead of going back through the chimney (that wouldn't be much fun) we head down the other side. This side is definitely easier than the other one, though the path does require some concentration (no walk and gawk here). Down we go, with the temperature ever increasing, until we reach the Hundstein Hütte, where cool drinks, dinner, and our beds for the night await. There are only 6 other people staying in the hut, so it's very quiet.

A really fantastic and varied day of walking in the mountains!

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