Sunday, July 21, 2019

A Sunday stroll outside of Basel

The forecast called for a bit of a break in the heat, but rain in the mountains, so we did a relaxed morning walk close to home.
Stats: 16km, 340m up, 360m down.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Not climbing the Fisistock, but a nice hike around Kandersteg

Our plan was to take a nice T5 route up from the Gasteretal to the Üssere Fisistock based on a description in the Berner Oberland "Interesting Hikes" book and some Hikr reports. We saw this face last time we were in the area and it looks like a great location for some alpine hiking. According to the weather forecast we've got a good window to actually pull this off, so we get an early start from Basel, take the small bus up into the Gasteretal (instead of hiking it like last time we were here) and are hiking by 9:00.

We start a bit along the road, then turn up through the woods on an easy to follow path that leads us up, up the face. The path is enjoyable and pretty easy to follow up until we get to the end of a gorge. We're pretty sure that it's supposed to head left from here, and can maybe see where things continue at the top, but there's a bit in between that is quite exposed and looks ugly. We decide to explore what might be a path up to the right, but a couple minutes of scrambling up there convinces us that this isn't right. There is another guy further in the direction we're heading, but it's pretty clear it's not the way we're supposed to be going. G is extremely skeptical at this point, but we decide to head back to that ugly bit again in order to check it out. The picks come out (we've got them along in case we encounter snow, but they make steep faces much easier too) and we start down. As we're almost there the other guy shows up. He's a shepherd who keeps sheep and goats up on the Halpi above us. We talk for a bit, he confirms that we want to go to the left, expresses extreme skepticism about our shoes (we're wearing the approach shoes) due to the amount of snow he says is in front of us, and then continues back down the mountain. We opt to head down, we're both sure we can do more in the approach shoes than he thinks we can (we've had this before), but there's no sense being stupid and that step in front of us is ugly. So back down we go.

At the bench where the trail rejoins the road we have a food break and plan a spontantour for the rest of the day. Back down the road we go, pick up the road and go past the Waldhus and then start heading up, up, up towards Sunnbüel. This is a fantastic path, mostly shaded, switchbacking with nice views up the side of the valley. We do another food break at an idyllic picnic table at the flat bit around 1700m. During this a giant group (12 people?) of trail runners shows up and picks the same spot for a break. Idyll over... onwards we go, up, up, the last bit to the valley of the Spittelmatte. The trail runners pass us on the way up since they're walking faster than us. :-) We were last up here more than ten years ago and it was winter that time, so this is our first visit in the summer. It's really lovely! We decide to follow the road for a bit in order to push off any actual decision making. We've essentially decided to the loop through the Arvewald, but the sign pointing towards the hotel at Schwarenbach (and the thought of the refreshing beverages awaiting there) changes that... so we head up a bit more until we get to the hotel. The weather is starting to look ugly, and a quick glance at the weather radar confirms that there is a big cloud heading our way (so much for the detail forecast we looked at in the morning). We should have about an hour before things really cut loose, so we finish our drink and then start heading back towards the gondola station, moving quickly.

In order to make things more scenic, we opt to not take the fastest way back and divert via the Arveseeli. This is indeed scenic, particularly the rain drops hitting the little lake. :-) The rain slowly increases in volume until it becomes real. We put on our hard shells and then continue as the thunderstorm arrives. Entertaining walking into the driving rain and hail for a few minutes until it blows over and we finish the rest of the walk to the gondola station without further precipitation. We get tickets, take the gondola down, and decide to walk the 3km back to Kandersteg instead of waiting 30 minutes for the bus. Of course the sky opens up on us 10 minutes into that walk, and this time the rain doesn't stop. We're pretty wet by the time we get to the train station. :-)

Stats: ~22km (the last 3 to Kandersteg aren't on the track), up 1400m, down 884m