Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Sunday walk from Pratteln to Muenchenstein

The weather was beautiful, so getting out and doing some walking was a must.
This was another one of those make-it-up-as-we-go-along hikes. We hopped on the S-Bahn from Basel, decided along the way to get off in Pratteln, and then just started walking uphill (always a good strategy).

Our route took us over the Schauenburgflue (there were climbers on the face), where we had lunch along with a big group of older hikers, along the canton border and past Schoenmatt, then down and towards Muechenstein. Along the way we picked a good supply of Baerlauch (Andrea was prepared with a big ziploc bag) to celebrate the spring.

We opted to stop in Muenchenstein and grab the tram back to Basel from there. A nice day out in the sunny springtime Jura!

Track to come.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Clean climbing practice at Grandval

After bouncing a bunch of options around for the day we decided to go to Grandval and do some clean practice in the "initiation" sector. The routes were unfortunately all a bit short, but there are some nice cracks that make it a good place to practice. There are also numerous places where there's a good placement a short distance above a bolt, so we were both able to do some good testing of our placements. By the end of the day we'd reached the point where we were both comfortable using a bolt at the bottom of the route and self-set protection for the rest of it.
a belt full of stuff
setting placements
 Great weather, fun climbing, and we had the sector to ourselves. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spring Climbing in Tessin

We got lucky with the weather and had three days of sun and warm forecast for Tessin, so off we went to get in some climbing. It's becoming a tradition for the early spring! This time instead of staying in Locarno we picked a hotel right at Ponte Brolla. Super convenient: get up, have breakfast, walk to climbing. :-)
our bed right underneath the rocks
The trip down was our first trip through the new Gotthard basis tunnel. It's pretty wild to go through a 57 km tunnel and excellent to have 30 minutes lopped off our travel time to Bellinzona.

After arriving we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed right for the big climbing area at the Rovine del Castelliere. As a warmup we started with Farfalla (3c, greg leading) wearing our approach shoes (it's been a while since we did any slabs... this was an adventurous start!). We then moved off to the sector from last year's clean climbing course and did a mix of Pizzoccheri and Origano (4b) followed by a mix of Sunneblume and L'Intifada (5a, with great practice crack) to get in some practice with the friends. After the clean practice Andrea lead us up Schogsii, we did a nice snack break to enjoy the views and sun, greg did some mix of Chritin and the routes to either side of it (this was somehow a tricky route to follow), and then we abseiled back down a pitch (practice, practice!) before walking back to enjoy a beer at the Osteria on the corner in the last of the sun (also a tradition by now). Then back to the hotel for a shower and a great meal.
clean climbing practice

Saturday we got a reasonably early start and headed off to the other side of the valley to do Speroni di Ponte Brolla (11 SL, 5a, 5a, 5a, 5b, 5b, 5b, 5a+, 5a, 5b (2p.a.), 5b, 4b, Andrea started). We did the first "half" of this (though on an easier line to the left of the one this time) last year and then abseiled down. This time we went to the top. This is the longest multi-pitch that we've done to this point at the highest sustained difficulty level. The climbing was great and we had a blast, but after about 5 hours of climbing - we did a food break after the first "half" (i.e. between the slab section and the part where it gets steep) - we were definitely aware that we'd done something. It was fantastic to be completely alone on such a great route (we saw people far below on the slabs when we were mostly to the top, but that was it). The long lunch break in the sun at the top was well earned and we enjoyed it fully. The trip back down to the valley through the gorge also ended up being pretty adventurous. I'm sure later in the season this is easy to follow, but this early it wasn't always trivial to figure out where we should be going (other than "down", that part was easy). The post-climbing beers in the sun at the Osteria were particularly nice. :-)
looking down

Sunday we headed to Monte Garzo where we did Harlem (5 SL, 4c, 5b, 5a, 5a, 4b, greg started). This is the route we got rained out of last year, so it was nice to come back and have lovely dry conditions. After a nice route we also managed a very successful abseil - where success is measured by efficiency and lack of chaos ;-) - and then did a good lunch break in the sun before starting the long trip back home.

It was a great weekend of climbing. Lots of good practice and fun in the sun. :-)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Trail run from Liestal to Basel

Greg's first "real" trail run

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.