Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Budapest: 21-27 May

Greg was traveling to Budapest for a two-day conference. Andrea decided to come along and we made a mini-vacation out of it.

  • Tuesday Greg: conference; Andrea: explore Budapest
  • Wednesday Greg: conference; Andrea: explore Budapest
  • Thursday explore Budapest
  • Friday explore Budapest + visit the Szechenyi baths
  • Saturday hike outside of town near Domos
  • Sunday a bit of exploring town then the flight back
The hike:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Climbing the Mythen

 We've been talking about climbing the Mythen for years: you see them from the train as it heads past Schwyz and they just look fantastic. We decided to definitely do them this season as part of getting ready for the mountains, but up until now they've been a bit too snowy. Finally though, we've got a good weather forecast and mountains that look, from the webcams, mostly snow free. Off we go!
After a tram-train-train-train-bus trip, we start in Brunni along with five or six other people and head up to Holzegg. The path is pretty muddy at times, but the going is otherwise good. At Holzegg the path takes us up a bit more, across some snow fields, to the foot of the Grosser Mythen. 
approaching the Grosser Mythen
Now it's just 400m of climb along a really nicely made path (mountain-hiking lite :-) up, up, up to the peak. We're not, by any stretch of the imagination, alone on the path, but it's not too crowded yet. It's clear that the path hasn't been clear of snow that long: there's still some maintenance work going on, but there's no problem at all reaching the top. We've made good time: 1:35 from Brunni, the signs say 2:20.

Up top it's not too crowded yet, but you can tell that the guys at the Bergrestaurant are looking forward to kicking off the season with a good day; hard to imagine what it must be like up here during high season. We enjoy the views and have lunch, scope out the Kleiner Mythen (looks like there are ~10 people up top... looks nice!), and then head down. On the way down we pass a bunch of people heading up; it's going to be crowded up there!
the Kleiner Mythen from the top of the Grosser Mythen
Back at Holzegg we turn left and walk along the base of the Grosser Mythen towards Zwüschet Mythen. There's a bit more snow on this path (north-east exposure, base of the mountain, no surprise there), but the going is still good. At some point we pass a guy doing maintenance work: shoveling snow off the path. Only in Switzerland! :-)

At the still-under-construction new Alp Zwüschet Mythen the path takes us up through the fairy-tale woods to the cross and saddle of Zwüschet Mythen. From here there's a clear trail that leads us up, up, up the Kleiner Mythen. This is our first real mountain path of the year: it's quite steep and it's clear that the numbers coming this way aren't that huge. It's warm and the sweat is flowing quite nicely by the time we hit the Vorgipfel.
Kleiner Mythen from the Vorgipfel
We take a short water and snack break and admire the peak (still a good number of people up there) and the seeming complete lack of a path heading up there (that's mostly Greg). From here onwards it gets somewhat scrambly with some nicely exposed bits; good adrenaline for Greg. The "standard" way isn't 100% clear in the last bit, but the climbing course stands us in good stead and we're up top without any real trouble. The big group up there is a set of five guys working: setting big bolts in the ground (a new cross?), otherwise there are just two other people who leave not long after we arrive. Random difference between the two Mythen: on the Grosser Mythen there are jackdaws everywhere (very cheeky jackdaws), on the Kleiner Mythen it's swallows. After a short sandwich break (not too long up top, Greg's spending too much timing thinking about what climbing down the first bit is going to be like) and some enjoying of the views, we head down. We find a route down that's scrambly, but a lot better than the one we came up (yay!), head back to the Vorgipfel, and then down, down to the saddle.
scrambly bits between Vorgipfel and Kleiner Mythen
After consultation with the SBB app and the clock we decide to head back to Brunni. Ten minutes after getting back down we're sitting on the bus to start the bus-train-train-train-tram ride home.

A really nice day in the mountains. Quote of the day from Andrea: "Well, now we've done the first T5 of the year, so we don't need to think about it anymore."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Getting ready for the season 2: Montagne de Moutier and Tour de Moron

Another "getting ready for the season" tour in the Jura.
The weather forecast for the Alps was somewhat dodgy, so we decided to do another Jura trip. We started in Moutier again since it seems to be have the few remaining hikes we haven't already done where we can get >1000m of height difference without spending a super-long time on the train.

We start under a wonderfully blue sky and head through town to the path heading up towards the Montagne de Moutier. We're initially spoiled by trail marking (nature trail, hiking trail, parcours trail) but after a bit we still manage to miss a marker and spend a few minutes heading off the wrong way. A quick correction and some backtracking and then we're again on the path, heading up, up the mountain. nice hiking under trees and across fields (not too wet!), past the (closed) restaurant at Aux Arsattes, then further up to the top of the broad ridge with its nice Jura views. Onward past the restaurant at Haute Montagne and then along the road along the ridge. Eventually the trail diverges again and we had further along the narrowing ridge. Somewhere along the way we stop for a lunch break with views out towards the first Jura chain and bits of Alps sticking out above it. At the end of the ridge it's down to the valley and Les Ecorcheresses. 

A quick rest/nap in the sun and then we head up, up the path towards the Tour de Moron. Up, mostly through the woods past the farm at Combioz, up, up until we make the ridge where we are richly rewarded with a really nice Alp panorama:
Alp Panorama
Onwards the last bit to the tower, which is pretty new and architecturally interesting:
Tour de Moron
From the top we have a really great Alp panorama. We can see from Mont Blanc to the Tödi in the main Alp chain. It's a bit hazy in the East otherwise, theoretically, we could also see Schesaplana and Säntis. Very, very nice. We enjoy the view for a bit before being driven out of the tower by screaming children and heading on our way. The hike down, which involves far too much road (a real risk in the French-speaking part of the Jura) takes us along the ridge and then down through Champoz before we end in Sorvilier.

Another nice day of Jura hiking. :-)

22.5 km, 1192m up, 1036m down.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Getting ready for the season: Moutier->Gaensbrunnen

It's very quickly getting to be mountain season again and we're both feeling massively out-of-shape and unprepared, so when we finally had the chance for a weekend day with a halfway-decent weather forecast, we absolutely had to head up into the mountains. Andrea found a hike with >1000hm that starts in Moutier; picking this was a pretty easy decision (only one hour on the train! whoot!).

From the train station we head out of town to the South (not North like when we started here a year ago). At a crossroads (where they're setting up a motocross event... good we're here early!) we turn off into the woods and start the climbing. Gently zig-zags under the woods on a path that's not *too* muddy, trending ever upwards. There's a really nice short stretch through a gorge (around La Combe on the map), but mainly we're climbing through the woods until Berg. d'Eschert, where things open up for the last stretch to the ridge of Oberdörferberg. Along the ridge to the high point and then a quick food break; the views are nice, but it's not particularly warm. We've made good time to this point: two hours for the ~7km and 750hm to the top.

After lunch we zigzag down into the next valley. At Subigerberg we opt to stay on the road (it's marked as a trail on our map, but not signposted). A bit of confusion just as the woods start and then we get it right and climb through the Cholgraben and up, up, up. This is a really nice gentle ascent that we push ourselves on. Coming out of the woods we rejoin marked trails and head on to Althüsli (not so long since last time we were here) where we have cool beverages and a snack (aside: it's *full*... not sure if that's a normal Sunday afternoon or a Mother's Day thing, but we're lucky to find two seats).

After our snack break we head up to the Hasenmatt. This is one of those "oooo, views!" points some days. Not today though... the clouds are too low, so we can't see the Alps. Nice views of the Jura chain though. From the peak we follow the ridge a bit before hitting the road and a parking lot. There's a sign here that says that it's 1:35 to Gänsbrunnen; the next good connection homewards leaves in an hour. "Think we can do it?", "Sure!". And off we go... gotta practice the running down the mountain part too. :-)

It's a nice descent on good paths/forest roads under the trees. We push ourselves and make Gänsbrunnen in less than 50 minutes. Plenty of time to catch our breaths before the train comes and we start the trip back to Basel. :-)

no pictures, it just wasn't a good day for them. Instead, here's the nice height profile. :-)