Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas and New Years in the US

Plenty of travel:
  • 23rd: fly to Reston
  • 25th: drive to Holly and Clint's in Richmond; big family doings
  • 27th: drive to Ashville; immediate family + Gary and Sally; hiking; eating.
  • 29th: drive to Gary and Sally's; relaxing; hiking in the snow; eating.
  • 1st: drive back to Reston; shopping.
  • 2nd: fly back home
Too much time in the car, but otherwise very good times. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Welcoming the winter above Glovelier

The track:
And the height profile:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

In the fog around Laeufelfingen

Text to come.

The track:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dallenwil to the Buochserhorn via the Gitzitritt

 It's getting late in the season, but the forecast for Sunday was really good so we had to get out into the mountains. After flipping through two of the "More difficult hikes" books we decide to do the Buochserhorn. We'd noticed this lovely pyramid when we did the Stanserhorn tour earlier in the year and were enthusiastic about the short travel time to Dallenwil. The book calls for a start with the gondola, but we opt instead to do the whole thing on foot; nothing wrong with walking uphill. :-)

From the train station in Dallenwil we head a bit down river then cross over and start the climbing. Past the church, past houses, following a trail that mostly cuts the corners on the zig-zagging street, through somewhat muddy pastures, past cows, always up, up with great views all around (including fall colors!).  At around 1100m we leave the trail for the Buochserhorn and head towards Buochs. Briefly down, then turning on an unmarked trail to traverse the slope under the peak. This is a very nice narrow path that gently ascends through the woods. After a bit we reach the Ribihuisli where we do a quick snack and tea break before heading onwards on the blue-white marked trail up towards the ridge. Up, up we go with the path getting progressively steeper until we reach the Gitzitritt, where there's a cable to help get up through the very steep trees and rocks. There are enough holds on rocks and tree routes to make the cable mostly unnecessary, but I can imagine it's quite helpful on the way down.
On the Gitzitritt
Some quite enjoyable scrambling (luckily not muddy here!) later and we're on the ridge with nice views to both the north and south.

Now we just follow the ridge, sometimes in the open, sometimes in the woods, the last 300m up to the Buochserhorn, with its fantastic panoramic view including bits of the Berner Oberland to the west and the glaciers of the Glärnisch and Tödi to the east.
View from the Buochserhorn back along the ridge
We've been mostly alone all day (one other couple on the path towards the Gitzitritt and then a few people up on the ridge), but we're back in a seriously popular area now. We pick a comfy place to sit and enjoy the views and have lunch and a brief nap in the sun. After our rest, the trail leads us down the other side of the Buochserhorn, down, down to the fork at the Bleikigrat. Here we continue along the ridge, do some really nice scrambling in the rocks of the Rätzelen (dessert!), and come out on the Musenalper Grat. This broad grass ridge leads us to Ober Musenalp with its gondola station and restaurant.
After a cool beverage in the sun, we start the long way home. This shouldn't normally be that much of a pain, but the beautiful weather has lured lots of people into the mountains, so there's a wait at both gondola stations, a standing-room-only train from Niederrickenbach to Luzern and then a really crappy connection to Basel (RE to Olten, also standing-room-only, and then a transfer to Basel), so it ends up taking almost four hours to get back.

It was a really nice day in the mountains with great views and some fun scrambling mixed in.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Stöckalp to Frutt

Our original plan for the weekend was to do our first self-organized Hochtour and to head up to the Grassen with Yvonne. By the end of the week it became clear that the weather was not going to play along (rain/snow all day on Sunday), so we picked an interesting sounding day hike instead: Stöckalp - Älggi (geographic center of Switzerland) - Abgschütz - Frutt. We've done the first part of this before but we have good memories of it, and it was a while ago anyway.

We leave Basel at a reasonable time and do the train-train-bus thing to get to Stöckalp around 9:15. The weather is a dream: clear, blue skies, cool, perfect Fall hiking weather. All three of us like hiking uphill, so we all really enjoy the climb up through the trees, particularly after the other group that started at the same time as us turns off along the path to Chlisterli. At Stepfen we enjoy the first views (ooooooo, aaaaaaaah!) and then follow the path up further up the ravine and then up the side to the alp at Innenbach and then to the ridge at Bachegg. From here we can see down to Älggi with its very unusual layout (the houses right up against the cliff on the southern edge of the meadow). The parking lot is pretty empty: a promising sign. Down we go, across the meadow (luckily the marshy ground is mostly dry), and to the marker at the geographic center of Switzerland. A few pictures, a lunch break, and then we're on our way again.

Älggi Alp with the geographic center of Switzerland
The next bit takes us back across the meadow, along a fun path up the cliff, and then more climbing up to the very attractive lake at Sachsler Seefeld. Now some more climbing up the end of the bowl and then we're at the saddle (Chringengrätli). Great views from here across to the Berner Oberland (Mönch, Eiger, Wetterhorn, Rosenhorn, Dossen, Ranfenhorn, etc.), but it's incredibly windy so we don't spend too long in the pass itself. Down a bit, along the contour line, another nice steep climb, and then we're at the Abgschütz. Here we find a wind-sheltered spot to take a break and enjoy the views to the Southeast: across the Melchsee-Frutt to the Titlis, Wendenstöcke, Sustenhorn, Gwächtenhorn, etc. Not the Grassen though, that's blocked by the other mountains. We also have a very nice view of ridge that runs from the Hochstollen (just to our left) to the Rothorn: that's a must-do.
View from Abgschütz to Melchsee-Frutt

After a bit of descent we cross the valley floor to Frutt, have a quick beverage enjoying the views, and then take the lift down to start the trip back home. It was a great day with varied hiking, lots to see, and good weather. What more could we ask for?

Sunday, September 09, 2012

A week in Paris

It's somehow been three years since we last went to Paris... time flies. We had a very nice flat near the Bastille and did the "go shopping at the open markets and then cook" thing, like we talked about doing last time. Bastille is a great place for this since there are a number of markets within easy walking distance.

Primarily we did a lot of walking around; some highlights:

  1. Heading to the Catacombs to escape the rain on Monday; unfortunately we weren't the only one to have this great idea. After seeing the line (in the rain, of course), we turned right around and got back on the metro.
  2. Taking advantage of the closed streets on Sunday to stroll along the canal. Lots of people out enjoying the sun. 
  3. Lunch at L'As du Falafel
  4. The new/redone pedestrian way along the right bank of the Seine
  5. Brunch with Christina and Thomas

Friday, September 07, 2012

Seilschaft coaching Day 6: Piz Palu traversal

This was the last day of the course and our one fixed point was to end the day at Diavolezza, where we could catch a gondola down to the valley and then a bus/train back home. From the hut there are two practical ways to get down there: head down over the Fortezza, then across the glacier and to Diavolezza or, more interesting, traverse the Piz Palü ridge. We all wanted to cross the ridge, but there was some question about what the conditions would be like: based on the few people in the hut, we were pretty sure that no one had done the traversal since the snow.

Anyway... out we headed at around 6:15. The first bit is pretty straightforward since we're following the tracks of folks who have come up to the rifugio from below. The tracks make getting through the big ice break under/around the Bellavista nice and easy... Andrea's task of leading is not a difficult one.  The trickiest bit is not stopping all the time to take pictures of the increasingly amazing sunrise. Bonus!
Sunrise. :-)
When the tracks turn off to the left towards the Fortezza, we instead turn right to head up to the Fuorcla Bellavista. From here it's clear that no one has done the ridge since the snow fell. Ah well... we're all motivated to do it anyway, particularly since Bruno is going to lead. ;-)

We split into one rope of three and one with two and head up the ridge. There are times the snow is a help (good footing over some bits!) and times when it's a hindrance (can't find grips/ledges while scrambling); it's probably a slight net negative. Overall the going is pretty good. The drops to either side are definitely impressive and would be cause for thought/fear (for Greg at least), but there's so much else to think about that it never really even starts to get bad. The pictures are pretty funny though... Greg's expression is pretty concentrated/intense in all of them.
Looking back along the ridge at [M] and [B]
A bit of scrambling
Greg in his role as Mr. Serious
At the Piz Spinas (the westernmost peak of the Piz Palü ridge) we do a quick food break then head onwards along the ridge, with a bit more scrambling, until we reach the snow ridge leading up to the central peak of the Piz Palü. Here we're just behind a group of Italians who have opted to come up the steep southern firn face instead of doing the ridge. We don't stay long at the main peak since it's pretty windy, but head on towards the east peak. This bit of the traverse provides the option to do one of the classic following-a-trail-with-a-500m-sheer-drop-under-your-feet bits. Greg, who is leading at that point, opts not to do this and to stay on the softer, but considerably less "airy" South side of the ridge. Andrea, of course, is disappointed by this decision... ah well.
Greg was happier *not* following the path on this side of the ridge
On the first bit of the way down from the easternmost peak, the bit of snow we're following on the South side of the ridge ends in a sheer drop and we have to cross over to the North side. At this point Bruno takes over the lead, crosses over, sets a couple ice screws, and belays us as we climb backwards down the first (steepest) bit. By the time the rope has run out, things aren't so steep and we proceed normally the rest of the way down. Unfortunately through all of this there are other people descending the face. This leads to plenty of snow/ice falling down on us, but luckily nothing really solid. Grim joke from Bruno on the way down: "What's the worst thing that could happen right now?" "hmm, getting hit by a piece of ice kicked down by the Italians above us?" "No. Getting hit by an Italian"

We have a lunch break at the shoulder at around 3720m and then follow the tracks down the rest of the way. It's very nice to have something to follow through the ice break and the crevasses and we make pretty good time down to the flat bit of glacier, across that, and then to the rock ridge that leads us to Diavolezza.
It's good to have a trail to follow through the ice break

After a short break for refreshing beverages we take the gondola down and start the long, long trip back home.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Seilschaft coaching Day 5: unplanned rest day

The day's plan is to head up to the Piz Bernina. Greg isn't feeling 100% and is concerned after the fitness problems of the last two days, so he decides to stay in the hut (it was pretty clear the night before that this was going to happen). Andrea starts out planning to go but after looking at the weather (cloudy and very windy) decides to wimp out as well. So we both stay back as the other three leave at around 7:30. We're still sitting there when they come back after 20 minutes: the weather was just too crappy, so they decided to hang out in the hut until it improves (which it's supposed to do). We have some time, so we do the trip planning for Day 6 early as the weather slowly improves. The other three set out again at 10:30 and complete the climb.
Rifugio Marco e Rosa

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Seilschaft coaching Day 4: up to the Rif. Marco e Rosa

This is another hut-to-hut day, but this one has a bit more technical character than Day 3: there's a 400m climb at the end that is a steep couloir followed by either a klettersteig made more challenging by the fresh snow or an even steeper bit of couloir. During the planning the night before we've agreed that we all favor the klettersteig, but that we'll make up our minds once we get to its bottom and see how things look.

[B] leads us out from the hut and down to the rock with our crampons, repeating the end of Day 3. Greg, once again, notices that he really needs to get into better aerobic shape... very frustrating. Back on the glacier we rope in and Andrea leads us in two groups across the glacier towards the couloir. This time going through some bits of crevasse maze is unavoidable.
Crevasse crossing
Shortly before getting there we do a food break (Italian breakfasts don't last long...) in the sun (!) in a patch of rocks and then [M] takes over the lead the rest of the way to the couloir. Making a broad loop around the lateral crevasses at the bottom of the couloir we climb up to the base of the rocks on the left-hand side and rearrange ourselves to go on a short rope for the next stretch. Since it's getting steep and there are still some crevasses to navigate, Bruno takes over the lead at this point and brings us up the next 100m or so to the bottom of the klettersteig. This doesn't look at all tempting: everything is covered with ice and snow and we'd have to cross a sizable bergschrund to even get across to it. To this point the footing in the couloir has been quite good thanks to the fresh snow, so the decision to continue up the couloir is easy (we had been fearing that the slope would be blank ice, which would have made things much more difficult). The next bit is really steep, so we tie the two ropes together, form one group of five, and move on together. As soon as we're clear of the edge, the rest of us wait while Bruno climbs ahead as far as he can, sets up a stand (ice-pick buried in a T-cut with a sling), and belays us up.

We repeat this one more time and then we're past the steep bit and can continue on normally.

A bit more climbing on short rope and we're at the hut.

We celebrate with some minestrone soup and then take advantage of the nice weather to head outside and practice crevasse rescues next to the hut. The hut's dog (a Czech wolfdog whose brother lives down at the Rif. Marinelli... beautiful creatures) plays along with us for a while before getting bored. Of course the weather changes (goodbye sun, hello sleet and snow) during the practice, so we cut it short after one round each and head back inside. The rest of the day follows the usual pattern: discussion of the day, planning the next day, a good meal (amazing what he can do in that little kitchen at ~3600m), and then bed. Once again things are quiet: there are only two other people with us in the hut.

The couloir was interesting: we haven't done anything that steep (up to 50 degrees) or long (200m of vertical in the steep section) on previous trips. The couloir in the Tschingelhorn trip was less steep, shorter, had no crevasses, and had much deeper snow in it, so it didn't feel particularly risky. This time there was definitely some adrenalin associated with the experience, particularly for Greg.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Seilschaft coaching Day 3: Across the glacier to the Rif. Marinelli Bombardieri

We head out again at around 6:15 into a day that's not especially promising in terms of weather. Today we're not planning to do any peaks, we're just heading to a new hut. The trip is made more interesting by the fact that we're crossing the Sella glacier, which has plenty of crevasses that need to be navigated through.

[M] leads us out from the hut, beside the moraine and gently up to the glacier itself. From there we ascend a bit along a track made the previous day by another group heading to the Glüschaint and then start to traverse. At some point Andrea takes over the front. She gets the most complex stretch in terms of crevasses and we spend a good amount of time winding around to make our way through. The pictures from the first day are definitely useful for this.
There is hopefully a route through here, but it sure isn't obvious.
After we're clear of most of that we switch around again and [B] takes the lead as we climb some more. During this stretch Greg starts to notice that his aerobic fitness isn't what it ought to be. It's frustrating to have to ask the group to slow down a bit, but there's no way around it. Just below the Fuorcla da la Sella we do a quick food break and then Greg takes the lead. Some course corrections from Bruno are required after making it over the pass and heading down the other side (Greg needs to spend more time with map study and not leave all that to Andrea). At this point clouds start blowing in and out, so we do some practice with navigating using the compass. The conditions definitely aren't ideal, but at least this glacier doesn't have quite as many crevasses, so we don't end up doing too many zig zags.
into the cloud
compass practice
not completely free of crevasses
When the conditions allow, we do another round of photo-reconnaissance: taking pictures of at least the bottom half of the couloir that leads up to the Rifugio Marco e Rose, our destination for the next day.

Down under the Passo Marinelli Occidentale, where the ice ends, we pack up the ropes and leave our crampons under a distinctive rock before following the path (initially marked with stone-men, later actually blazed) to the Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri. Bonus points to the hut for having a Sigur Ros album on when we arrived. We do the day's debrief with a round of hot beverages and then head off for showers (!) and a rest. We convene again for an apero at 5 (a really, really nice spread of cheese and cured meats along with a nice bottle of bubbly) and then do the trip planning for the next day before another good meal (more food is really not necessary after the apero, but it's not like we're going to turn down food in Italy). Once again we're the only guests at the Rifugio; during the week in the late season when the weather isn't optimal is a great time to experience calm and quiet mountain huts.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Seilschaft coaching Day 2: Up Il Chapuetschin

We head out from the hut at around 6:15 under cloudy skies. It's pretty warm but not raining (yay!). The plan for the day is to have each of the group members lead a stage; Greg has the first stage, so he leads the group out and up the moraine next to the hut. After some climbing, plenty of stamping through snow, and a few wrong turns (tip from Bruno later: check the first bit of the route out the night before), we get up to the cliff wall at around 2900m, rope up, and head out across the glacier. The fresh snow makes the going slower than normal (both because crevasses are harder to see and because there's an effort associated with making a path), but we head steadily upwards to the Fuorcla dal Chapütschin. The crevasses aren't too bad, so we can take a pretty direct route.
Weaving through a couple crevasses

In the middle of the bowl we hit the days only real decision point: to the pass and then along the whole ridge, or the shorter route through the couloir southeast of Il Chapütschin? The choice to head to the pass and then up the ridge instead of the couloir is an easy one: the couloir is quite steep and looks pretty unpleasant.

At the pass we take a short break and then [B] leads the group for the next stage: up to the ridge and then along the ridge to the peak. Plenty of path breaking here, but [B] does all the hard work. Over the  Chapütschin Pitschen we go, then down to the firn on the other side, around the top of the couloir and then back up to the ridge. Here it's steeper, more scrambly, and more exposed, but there are plenty of rocks/edges to hang the rope around so it doesn't even start to feel unsafe.
Looking towards the ridge to the Chapütschin
The top is windy as hell, so we don't stay long before heading down 10-15m to a more wind-sheltered bowl where we do a quick lunch break.
Up top! in the wind!

After the break Andrea leads the group down the first part of the ridge, down to the glacier on the West side (we decide not to do the full ridge because of the snow and the heavy winds), across the glacier, and to a saddle where we can cross the ridge and head down to the glacier on the East side. Bruno belays us through the first scrambly bit and then it's another swap of leads and [M] navigates us across the glacier (more crevasses here) and down to the rocks at around 3000m where we take off the crampons and pack away the ropes. The last stretch, in a light drizzle, is down through the rocks (sometimes quite slippery thanks to the snow) to the moraine and then back to the hut.

In the evening we talk through the day, plan the next day's trip, and have another good meal before heading off to bed.

All in all it was a good starting day: the weather wasn't ideal but the tour was relatively easy (would have been quite easy without the fresh snow) and a good chance for us to get to know each other as a Seilschaft (sorry, I just can't bring myself to use "rope team").

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Seilschaft coaching Day 1: To the Coazhutte

One of the conclusions we reached after the week in the Berner alps is that we should do a mountaineering course so that we can organize and undertake easier tours on our own. Very fortunately for us, Bergpunkt was offering a perfect-sounding course during the first week of our vacation. Since we didn't have any real fixed plans, we went ahead and signed up.

Day one is arrival day: after a very long train ride the group (there are four of us + Bruno, our guide/instructor) meets up at the foot of the Corvatsch gondola in Surlej and heads up to the middle station. After the requisite round of introductions and "what do you expect to get out of the course", we head off along the path to the Coazhütte, where we'll be staying for the first two nights. Earlier in the week it snowed up here, so there's plenty of fresh snow to tramp through as we enjoy the panoramic views across the valley to the Piz Bernina, Piz Rosegg, etc. and all their associated glaciers.

From left: Piz Morteratsch, Piz Bernina, Piz Rosegg
Along the way a tip from Bruno to take some zoomed-in pictures of the Roseg and Sella glaciers: we will be crossing them on Tuesday and we can use the photos to help plan a route through the crevasses.
On Tuesday we're going to  have to make our way through that mess.
At the hut (unsurprisingly, but very pleasantly almost empty: there are five other people there) we get settled in and then do a session on trip planning for the next day, where the idea is to climb Il Chapütschin. It's a great opportunity to talk about adjusting plans to the prevailing conditions: the weather forecast is pretty crappy -- overcast, chance of rain in the afternoon -- and we know that there's going to be plenty of fresh snow (30cm or so) on the ridge.

After a good meal it's off to bed for an early start on Monday.

Link to the whole trip on a topo map.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gspon to Giw via the Simelihorn

We start by climbing out of town. The path isn't exactly indicated, but Andrea manages to get us going in the right direction. We climb and climb through the woods, past the buildings at Sänntum, past the cross at Häüschbiele (there are people camping up here! what a view!), and then more or less following a contour to an Alp at about 2418m. Here we refresh ourselves in the fountain, then leave the path behind us and follow traces along a more-or-less direttissima to p.2781 on the ridge. Down we go a bit and then we follow the path traces up the north-eastern face of the Simelihorn. It's pretty easy going, with a bit of fairly steep block scrambling up towards the top.

Up top we enjoy the great views, have a quick lunch (it's hot! 30 degrees in the sun at 3100m!), and re-think our plans. We originally had talked about continuing along the ridge to the Mattwaldhorn and then somehow getting down the East side of that. This isn't looking like such a great idea, so we head back the way we came, down past the small lake in the Findletälli, and then down some more to the turnoff point for the Blausee, under the Ochsehorn. Here we turn back a bit to the South with the intent of walking around the end of the valley, through the Magelicke, and then down towards the Simplon pass. Not too long after a very refreshing short break along the Schwarzbach (it's hot! the cold water is good!) we reach a crossing with a sign that seems to indicate that our planned route is going to take an additional 4+ hours. This doesn't seem right (in retrospect it almost certainly wasn't), but we don't have anything like that long before the last bus that has a decent connection back, so we instead opt to follow the Suonenweg back to the Gibidumpass. This is a really, really nice path next to the burbling water, with a light breeze, with great views, and with nothing but a gentle descent (as always along the Suonen). Really nice gentle walking, very good for Greg's knee.

At Gibidumpass we take another break in the last bit of shade (boy is it hot away from the Suonen and without the light breeze!) before heading down the last bit to Giw. After a refreshing drink we take the chairlift down to Visperterminen, then the bus back to Visp. The train station is crazy full (of course), so we take a train to Brig, do some quick shopping, and board the next train towards Basel there. We at least have seats before the masses get on a Visp and are able to "enjoy" the utter chaos the rest of the way back to Basel.

The track:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Visperterminen to Gspon via the Ochsehorn

The forecast promised cloudless skies and hot weather, so the priority was to go up! up! :-)

We started with a true Andrea special: Train to Visp, bus to Visperterminen, and then immediate climbing. At first we go through town, then on a path past a series of small shrines, into the woods past more shrines, past the chapel, always heading up. I guess the combination of the low altitude (thick air!) and lack of other people to worry about gives us an extra kick, because we end up moving pretty quickly: the first 600m of climb to Giw are done in an hour. We don't see anyone else on the way (seems like everyone takes the chairlift). Past Giw we follow the path/road up through the somewhat ugly ski resort area until we reach the Gibidumpass. Up here there are some people around. Up to the ridge, and then following the trail/traces of a trail. At the little peak at p.2587 we stop to enjoy the great views and to have a lunch break. Since we've got plenty of time, we stretch out for a bit and enjoy a quick post-lunch nap (ahhhh what luxury!) before continuing along the ridge. After p.2611 the path gets rocky, thought it's still really easy to follow up to the last bits of climb to the Ochsehorn, which are somewhat scrambly and require a bit of path finding (though it's hard to go wrong when the goal is "go up!"). At the top we find a quiet rock outcrop to sit on, have a snack, and enjoy the views.

From the peak we follow traces of a trail across to the peak at the top of the Wyssgrat and then turn to follow the ridge itself downwards to the West. Nice combined grass, block, gravel walking down to the viewpoint out over Gspon at 2370m. We're both really grateful for the breeze... it's getting HOT. From the viewpoint it's along the (not always well marked) trail until we hit Gspon itself, where we find our restaurant/hotel, have a cool beverage, take showers, enjoy a good meal, and then make a night of it.


Friday, August 10, 2012

HT Woche Berner Alpen Day 5: Sunrise on the Oberaarhorn then Oberaarjochhuette -> Oberaarsee

As agreed the day before, our smaller group of five gets up for breakfast at 4:00 a.m. and we're underway by 4:45. The first bit of the climb up to the Oberaarhorn is a scramble up through some block. Fun territory to be climbing through, but it's not particularly simple to find the path (marked with faded orange paint) with our headlamps. At one of our "where the hell is the path?" breaks, a pair of other climbers storms by us on their way up, so we follow them. They don't really know where the path is either, but if we're following someone else it must be the right way, right? ;-) Since we do eventually end up following orange markers again, this turns out to be exactly right.

We catch up to the other two at the bottom of the snow field as they're putting on their crampons and roping up. We put on the crampons, turn off the headlamps (it's more than light enough to climb up a snow field), and set out. We've got plenty of time, so we do the climb at a comfortable speed. As we climb it gets progressively lighter and the eastern horizon gets more and more orange; great fun to watch as the distance to the top shrinks. By 6:00 a.m. all five of us are on the peak. Other than the two other climbers, we have the place to ourselves (the hut is full, but most everyone else was doing glacier hiking, not mountains).

Up top the conditions are pretty much perfect: light wind, clear skies above us, thin cirrus clouds on the horizon to light up with the sun, and some cloud cover below us to make the views more dramatic. It's just fantastic. We all thank the one who proposed coming up in time to see the sunrise, take lots of pictures, ooh and ahh a lot, and generally enjoy the hell out of ourselves. After the sun is fully up and the light has lost the special "sunrise" quality, we make our way back to the hut with smiles on our faces.
"Here comes the sun..."
Three very happy climbers. Weisshorn, Matterhorn, Dom, and friends in the background
On the way back down through the rocks
Back at the hut we have another round of hot beverages, share pictures with the other three, pack up, and then the whole group heads out. At the pass we rope in and then head down the Oberaargletscher to the Oberaarsee (the reverse of the first day of the Vorderes Galmihorn trip) and the Berghaus Oberaar.
Down the glacier to the Oberaarsee

It's damn warm on the glacier (the joy of getting both direct and reflected sun!), so it's nice to move off onto rock towards the bottom and take off the crampons and bundle up the rope for the last time for this trip. After a short break we head down the path above the lake; it's fun to be back in green again for the first time in five days. We're ahead of schedule for meeting our taxi, so we have another break a few minutes before we hit the dam and some additional time to have a refreshing beverage at the hotel before getting in the taxi and heading down to Meiringen and the trains back to Basel.

It's a long, crowded, hot ride back, and we have the usual culture shock on returning from the mountains, but there are plenty of great images stuck in our heads. It was a good week in the mountains.

The track: