Sunday, October 21, 2018

From Fluonalp to Brienz via the Dirrengrind

After a nice breakfast we start the day not really sure what the plan is, except for knowing that we're going to walk and enjoy the weather. We figure starting towards the Höch Gumme is as good as a way to kick things off as anything, so off we go. Up, up we go, along normal hiking paths and enjoying the sun and views, up, up to the cross at Mändli. Since it's there and we can, we scramble up onto the bit of rock that's a bit further along the North ridge. Great views back towards the Rossflue and yesterday's fun. This is a good example of the "it doesn't look like there's a path there" effect: the route that we took to get from the SE ridge to the Chringe looks really unlikely.
the route down from the Rossflue we took yesterday
Further along the ridge we go, continuing to climb and enjoy the views (great shadows thanks to the low-angle Fall sun) until we get to the Höch Gumme. First decision: continue onwards towards the Brienzer Rothorn instead of heading back to the gondola. Onward we go, continuing along the ridge and now starting to encounter other people in steadily increasing numbers. At the saddle below the Arnihaaggen we opt to head up the slab next to the trail (same as last time). Up top we stop for a lunch break, enjoy the views, and are astounded by the number of people underway - it's clear that this would be a popular destination, but the numbers really are something. Second decision: onwards and down towards Brienz via the Dirrengrind; we had talked about not doing a T5 today, but the description sounds too good to pass it up.
along the ridge towards Arnihaagen
After the break we continue along the ridge to the Eiseesattel, where wave goodbye to the Brienzer Rothorn over us (not today!) and then turn downhill towards the lake. The good path leads us down (less crowded!), down, down to the cluster of small houses at Gibelegg. Here we top off our water bottles and then continue along the obvious and well-used, but unmarked trail that continues along the face. After some nice hiking through the woods we reach the ridge at p1764 and see the Dirrengrind for the first time. Wow! Impressive looking bit of steep landscape and, from where we are standing, no immediately obvious route through it. Good thing there's a trail. :-) Onwards we go, putting on the helmets (which we've been carrying with us, along with ice axes in case of steep grass, all weekend) since there are chamoix above us kicking down rocks, following the well-made, though pretty exposed, trail across the face. Lots of cool (and somewhat subtle) protecting walls in here; 
there's even a small hut about halfway across (that'd be a fun place to bivvy!). 

through the south face of the Dirrengring

On the other side we rejoin normal hiking trail, which we follow past an awesomely situated and well-maintained hut, to the Felsentor. Short stop from here to enjoy the views and look up at the hotel on the Rothorn, and then we head down on a nice trail through the woods to Planalp. It's going to be about 30 minutes until the next train down (and greg is skeptical that we'll get a seat on it anyway), so we skip that experience and opt to walk down to Brienz instead. We follow the pretty nice path down, down, crossing the road repeatedly, down through the woods, down along the train tracks, down to Brienz. The (quite full looking) train passes us a couple of minutes before we get to the station. Good call on walking. :-)

At the station we have a break while waiting for the bus (there's construction on the train tracks) that will start the trip back home.

Another really nice day of walking with great views through varied and interesting terrain!

Stats: 17.2km, ~1100m up, 2080m down.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Traversing the Giswilerstock

First day of a trip to take advantage of lovely fall weather. Today's route comes from combining a couple of tours from one of our "more interesting hikes" books.

We get off the train in Lungern, under a layer of hochnebel. Super nice: there's a van waiting for the train to take people to the gondola station... saves us 1.5 km through town... bonus! The gondola quickly takes us up and we emerge from the fog into fantastic sun under cloudless skies. Oh yeah!
emerging from the fog into the sun
From the gondola we follow mostly road towards Fluonalp, where we'll be spending the night. From the top of the first rise we get a great view of the Giswilerstock massif, which we'll be traversing. Oh yeah... this is going to be fun.
this shows the route of the day
We continue past Fluonalp (just as a group of motorcyclists arrive... going to be a busy day there) and then follow the trail up, up, across the face of the massif until we emerge at the Giswilerstock itself. Great views from here, which we enjoy while having a snack before continuing on. Now the path (no longer official, but easy to follow) takes us along the ridge, at times on the ridge, at times below it because of the Legföhren, nicely past a couple of really good bivvy spots, enjoying great views and easy walking (this is T3)  the whole way, until we get to the cross at p1940. We are, amazingly, still alone with no other people in sight. From here the path gets more adventurous (T5): the ridge gets narrow, and scrambly, including a bit of down-climbing and a fair amount of exposure. Good stuff!
on the ridge towards the Schafnase
At the base of the Schafnase we round the corner and follow the last of the NW ridge to the peak (we're going to have to do that whole ridge some day... we've got a description of it and it sounds great) with a bit of light scrambling and some steep grass (with good steps... this peak is one people visit). Up top we are, once again, with no one else in sight. Crazy! After a bit of rest, some eating, and plenty of gawking we continue along the ridge: scrambling down to the Furgge at 1908m. Next step is the climb up to the vorgipfel of the Rossflue. We make this more scrambly than it needs to be (why not... the rock is good and the going is fun) and are up in no time. The descent to the saddle before the Rossflue itself is a bit more adventurous, particularly when Greg accidentally deviates from the easiest route. Another nice short ascent with a bit of scrambling and we're atop the Rossflue. Here we do another break to enjoy the views and have another snack. From here we can see people, but they are all far away on the path between the Brienzer Rothorn and where we are. Fun to see them off in the distance and have this peak with its awesome views to ourselves. A partial catalog of places we've been that we can see: Rigi, Rigi Hochflue, Säntis, the Mythen, Stanserhorn, Buochserhorn, Arvigrat, Nunalpstock, Arnigrat, Wandelen, Gross Spannort, Kleiner Tierberg, Dossen, Ränfenhorn, Bluemlisalphorn, Tschingelhorn, Niesen, Stockhorn, loads more. We discuss briefly which route to take down; the three routes that don't involve going back are all T6-, so we're going to be having some fun. We check out the beginning of the south face, decide that doesn't look particularly nice, and opt for the south-east ridge. The descent down the ridge is quite nice: not too steep and generally good rock (except when we move too far out onto the face). We make good time down to the small pine tree that the description uses as a landmark (there's a marker on the rock adjacent to it) and then leave the ridge to traverse back across the face. Some traversing of the steep (and somewhat loose) face, a descent through a short (and somewhat loose) couloir, and then a bit more traversing and we're at the Chringe and back on marked paths. We follow the path back towards Schönbuel a bit before turning off and descending cross country back to the Fluonalp and the crowd there. 
descent from the Rossflue
We celebrate a really, really nice tour with cool drinks and a cheese plate in the last of the sun before checking in, having a quick nap, enjoying a good meal (really, really good Älplermagronen!), and then heading off to bed. What a day!

Stats: ~12km, ~1080m up, ~1060m down.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The complete Mythen traverse

Another trilogy that's been on our list for quite a while: doing a complete traverse of the Mythen massif. 6+ years ago we hiked up to the Grosser Mythen, back down the same way, and then up to the Kleiner Mythen and down the same way. This time we did a full traverse: Haggenspitz, Kleiner Mythen, Grosser Mythen.
Kleiner Mythen and Haggenspitz from Brunni
We start under a blue sky (it's a beautiful day!) at the end of the bus line in Brunni Talstation with the masses of people who are headed to take the gondola up to Holzegg; it's going to be a busy day up on the Grosser Mythen, hopefully we get to see it. :-) Our route takes us up out of Brunni towards the Haggenegg. Up, up, up we go, along the red-white path, through the woods, and then across a field until we arrive at the street and the parked cars (oh yes, people are out today...). Here we turn left and follow the ridge, with its clear use path, towards the North face of the Haggenspitz. This is one of those great "if we didn't know that there was a route up there, we wouldn't think it's possible" faces. The use trail takes us up and along, catch up to another group of three, up, up until we reach the bottom of some climbing routes. Here another hiker encourages us to head up a chimney that's marked with a green arrow next to the climbing routes instead of continuing along the use trail. Sure, why not? So on with the helmets and we get to start with a bit of nice scrambling. Up, up we go, staying with the other hiker (really him staying with us), up, up along a reasonably easy to follow route with the occasional red marker, until we hit the Müller Kamin. This is as exposed as promised in the route descriptions, but not particularly difficult (aside from the risk of the backpack getting hung up in the tight chimney!). We've got a rope and a bit of climbing gear with us, and there are a couple bolts available, but we opt to solo it. Up, up we continue with some more light scrambling, until we hit the peak. This is unexpectedly full (5+ people there... unbelievable!), so we have a very quick food break to enjoy the views and then continue on our way. Our temporary companion stays behind (guess he wants a longer break) as we start down towards the saddle between the Haggenspitz and the Kleiner Mythen.
trying to find space in the Müller Kamin
This is a relatively easy route down, though we manage to lose it a few times and end up scrambling more than we need to. Once at the saddle we continue up to the face of the Kleiner Mythen and follow the very nice (and straightforward to follow) route up. This has a couple of good scrambly bits and is just in general loads of fun. The peak of the Kleiner Mythen is even more full than the Haggenspitz was (10+ people!), so after taking a few pictures we continue on our way. For the first time today we're repeating a route we've done before. With all the practice over the past few years, this isn't nearly as dramatic as it was back then. Still fun though! And very populated... tons of people making their way up to the Kleiner Mythen to enjoy the views. Back down at Zwischet Mythen we stop for another food break (longer this time) and enjoy the views and the sitting (haven't done much of that so far today!).
on top of the Kleinen Mythen
After the break we follow the easy hiking path around the foot of the Grosser Mythen towards Holzegg. At the big scree field we leave the path and head up the left side of the scree. After a bit of height gain, there's a clear zigzag trail through the scree (which is nice, because this isn't the nicest surface to move steeply upwards on). At the top of the scree we hit the first of the pink markings which will lead us the rest of the way to the top along the Chalberstöckli route. The route is really, really nice. Definitely a bit easier than either of the other two ascents we've done so far, but still with great views (and exposure). We absolutely enjoy ourselves until we hit the main hiking path up to the peak. After collecting the usual funny looks as we climb over the railing and take off our helmets, we continue up to the peak and the absolute madness up there. Another short break to enjoy the views and the madness and check the bus schedule, and then we start our way down. We have about 75 minutes to complete the 85 minute descent to Brunni. Should be no problem! The first bit is pretty slow due to the masses of people underway, but we finally manage to pass the big clot in front of us and then do some trail running for the rest of the descent. This starts as a bit of a joke but it works really well and is quite fun, so we continue until close to the bottom, where the footing isn't as good since the rocks are more covered with dust. We make good time walking the descent from Holzegg and are at the bus stop with 20 minutes to spare.
scrambling up towards the Grosse Mythen
What a great tour. We're definitely going to have to do this one again!

Stats: ~12km, 1380m up and down.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Climbing at the Mattstock again

Due to other travel stuff we only had one day this weekend to be outside, so we opted for a day of climbing at the Mattstock. We've been here before and were looking forward to another day of climbing the "Wasserrillen".

After travelling to Amden on Friday night, we take the chairlift up at around 9:00, hike up to the base of the routes (two other teams there, one already started, one climbing the route next to us), put on the gear, and then start up the route Südostwandplatte (5a). Five pitches of really fun climbing with great views later and we are at the top. The abseiling this time goes reasonably efficiently.

Back at the bottom of the routes we have lunch and then decide to do part of another route. So we head over to Dä Mond and start up that. More very nice climbing through the first three pitches and then we abseil down. After packing the gear up we head down (pretty quickly... it's getting late for the chair lift), take the lift down, and catch the bus for the trip back home.

A really nice day of doing a particularly enjoyable type of climbing.

This was greg's first trip outdoors in his new climbing shoes (Black Diamond Momentum).