Saturday, February 18, 2017

Snowshoeing in Graubunden: Peist to Küblis

Finally a good-weather weekend with a decent avalanche report; off to the mountains we went to do some snowshoeing!

The trains were as full as one would expect for a sunny winter Saturday morning, but we still had seats the whole way to our start point in Peist. No one else got off the (mostly still full) train there, so it's easy to guess what things must have been like in Arosa.

Of we started up, up through town and then out following the signs to Faninpass. After a bit on the road and then some snow (not as much as one might hope for; it's been sunny and we're on a South-facing slope) we reach a point where there's sufficient snow to mount the snow shoes. The on and up we go, enjoying the good views and the pretty direct path through the woods. There's an easy track to follow (yay! no tramping our own path this time!) up and up. At Zerfalta we see the first other people of the day: two snowshoers who have, unfortunately,  occupied the bench in the sun with a view. Ah well, we walk a few meters further and do a nice break sitting in the snow.

After the break we continue onwards and up, less steeply now, until we get to the top of the broad shoulder near Zaluenja. Onwards we continue, mostly contouring but climbing a bit, towards the Arflinafurgga. By this point we're following a trail left by a couple of skiers, so there is some snow-tramping to do and the going is a bit slower. From the pass we have a great view down to the Fideriser Heuberg (in fact, this pass was our intended destination on day 1 of that trip). But we aren't going down there! Theoretically at this point we have the option to continue up the ridge and do the last vertical meters up to to the Mattjisch Horn or to contour around the face of the peak to the Blackter Fürggli. Given that the second option has no trail and would require tramping the show the whole way, we opt to go up. The view from the peak make it well worth the bit of extra climbing. No big surprise there. :-)

view from the Mattjisch Horn
From the peak we continue a bit along the ridge and then turn down the face of the slope towards Strassberg. After a bit of descent we traverse along a well-tramped trail to the Skihaus Casanna, our destination for the evening. After checking in and a cool beverage we have a short rest, a good meal and then retire for the evening with memories of nice views and the sun on our faces.

On Sunday after a good breakfast we head up the valley in the cold (no sun down here yet!), through Strassberg, and then follow a ski-touring trail along the road, gently climbing towards the ridge while traversing under the Chistenstein. Once we hit the sun (after maybe 30 minutes of walking), it's another beautiful day. Onward we go, following one or another of the ski-touring trails, until we hit the ridge between the Chistenstein and the Drimarchenspitz. We take a break and enjoy the sun, views, and solitude (we haven't really seen anyone yet today). The last bit to the Chistenstein looks decidedly unfriendly (though we don't head all the way over, it looks like there's scrambling involved, which wouldn't be all that fun in snowshoes), so we opt to head directly down into the bowl towards Duranma. This is a descent in deep snow, big fun!. In the bowl we do a bit of tramping until we make it to the path up to the pass between the Chistenstein and the Glatt Bärgji. At the pass we head steeply down the other side and follow the remains of a ski trail, planning to descend between the two sets of cliffs. On the way down to this divide we pass two groups of ski-tourers, one coming up. After a minute we realize that the second group had actually turned around and was heading back up. Odd, then we realized that it got a bit steep in front of us. Thanks to the deep powdery snow this ended up being no problem (actually a lot of fun), but it wouldn't have been possible with either hard snow or shallow snow. We are, in any case, the first to have traversed this slope since the last time is snowed (well, maybe not, we crossed the remains of a small avalanche that may have wiped out some tracks). At the bottom of the slope we turn towards the house at 1901m in the Malanser Tarnuz. This time the bench isn't occupied, so we have another nice food break in the sun... what a life!

down from the pass
After a bit of a rest we continue on our way. Now we're contouring around the slope, following a track from some skiiers. The first bit is interesting because it leads across the remains of a couple of old (and small) avalanches. You get cool glimpses between the lumps of snow into the very blue spaces in between; nice stuff. On we go, starting to slowly descend. At some point we pick up the trail that leads us down, down, down, through the forest. This bottoms out at a point where we choose to take the road (with its switchbacks) instead of descending a couple of steep bits in the open (greg's not thrilled with the idea of doing steep bits on crappy snow). By the time the road is down to just a layer of ice we're at the switchback above Bonersch Wis and we switch back to the snow. Down a bit more until we run out of snow and walk the rest of the way through the woods down to Strahlegg. From there a path through the woods takes us to Küblis and the (very full) trains back home.

Another good (and long!) day.

Here's the track for the whole thing:

Saturday 11.5km, 1214m up, 612m down.
Sunday 18.8km, 735m up, 1880m down.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Snowshoetrip to Vorder Stockealp

text and track to come.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Year's in Hamburg

text (and tracks?) to come.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Christmas in Bad Lippspringe

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Another Simmeflue visit

Yesterday was forecast to be a beautiful early December day, so heading out to the mountains was a no-brainer. There was already some snow above 1500m and there was construction outside of Luzern that makes connections to the Zentralschweiz hard, so we opted to return to the Simmeflue. We've been there a couple of times already, but this one is really not a problem to repeat.

The usual route: train to Wimmis, and then along the path to Brodhüsi, further along the path to the old quarry and the first blue-white marker, then up, up, up, up. It's not warm (below freezing in the shade), so we move pretty quickly but do still enjoy the trip up. At around 1100m we hit the sun (ah! sun!). By the time we get to the saddle we haven't seen anybody else, so we can hope to have the Sunnighorn to ourselves. This, of course, turns out to not be the case: we see the first couple leaving the peak as we're almost there and the second couple is still up top. Still, they leave after a few minutes and we can enjoy the second half of our break alone on the peak. It really is a great weather day: sun and blue skies with great views to the Alps and over the fog that's covering the Mittelland.

After the break we head back down to the saddle (passing two other couples on their way up and seeing another one) and then around towards the rest of the ridge. At the obvious point we divert off and head up to the Mittagflue (we end up just behind the second couple from the Sunnighorn here), from which we have a nice view back to the Sunnighorn. We enjoy the views for a couple minutes to let the other couple get a bit ahead and then head off along the ridge. For a while we're following tracks from others, but after a while they head back down to the normal trail and we opt to stay on the ridge. This involves a bit of pushing through brush, some good scrambling, and a couple of sections that are easily in the upper T5 zone; it's good fun! At some point we reach the end of the line though: the real path is visible in the saddle below us, but there's a good 7-10m vertical drop down to it. Ah well, we head back for a minute or two and take the first opportunity to descend to the path. Continuing along the path back to that saddle (yeah, we didn't miss anything, it's vertical), and then onwards to the next obvious turnoff and up to the last peak on the chain, the one with the cool stoneman. Here we have another food break and enjoy the views more before heading back down and continuing along the trail.

At Chrindi we head down into the valley. This is the same route we took down the first time and it's a nice one. To avoid repeating exactly the same end of the hike we opt to get the train at Oey-Diemtigen instead of Erlenbach. ;-)

It was great to be out in the mountains and enjoying the sun, particularly this late in the year!