Sam and I used the great weather on Sunday to go for a quick climbing trip to the "Gallerie Weesen". We chose "Verschneidung" as our warm up route. It starts with a 5c pitch and continues on a 6b. It was my turn to lead for the second pitch. I had an incredibly hard time and barely managed to climb it even after giving up and pulling on gear. I was starting to doubt my ability and was quite frustrated until we rappelled back down to the base and checked the guide book again. It turned out I had tried to lead "Maxima", a 7b. This redeemed me somewhat, especially considering that I have never managed a clean lead of a 7b, indoors or outdoors (I got close a few times in the gym though). I continued climbing "Deviation" 6a+ and "Übeltäter" 6b+ while Sam chose "Wixblau" 5c and "Anfängerglück Variante" 6a. Each one a solid 30 meters long and using the full length of my rope. All the while the sun was burning and added half a grade of difficulty because it greased the holds with a nice mixture of sweat and sunscreen. Good times! ;-)
Same procedure as every year: we participated in the annual hike through the night before ascenscion day. As usual, the route starts in the village of Bremgarten and follows the river Reuss for 45 kilometers before finally climbing 1500 meters over the final 5 kilometers up mount Rigi.
The hike gets more popular each year. This time a record 2363 hikers participated, 1679 of whom actually made it all the way to the summit. We started as a group of four: first timers Sandra and Björn, Tim and me. Tim had to bail after the first 20 km or so because he was wearing boots he hadn't used in more than ten years and consequently got nasty blisters. Björn and Sandra were great troopers and we reached the summit at 8 in the morning after starting at 8 in the evening, giving us a nice and even 12 hour start to finish time. The weather was picture perfect during all this time. Starry night with frozen ground (slippery on the mountain!) and blue skies during the day.
Returning back home from the mountain I barely had time to shower and to take a 40 minute power nap before Anita and I headed for the airport. We were flying to Germany to attend my grandmother's funeral. She had finally been redeemed at the age of 92 after a long period of suffering from Parkinson's disease. Rest in peace Oma.
The weather forecast for the weekend was quite bad, with lots of rain and snow even at low altitudes. Yet Paweł was, in his own words, desperate. His two young kids usually prevent him from going on longer outings but this time his wife was travelling with them. Thus the four of us, Anita, Björn, Paweł and me, drove to Schoried in order to hike the Schlierengrat.
It was snowing the moment we stepped out of the car. Leaving Zürich in the rain it felt like we had arrived in another world. A magical winter wonderland. The fresh green of spring and blooming flowers covered in fresh snow. It didn't take long before we were breaking trail through twenty centimeters of fresh powder in a schizophrenic world of flourishing vegetation and ice.
We scrambled up a pathless couloir, trying to find our own way before we planned to get onto the trail proper. This proved to be too tedious, so we abandoned that idea and stuck to the trail instead. Anita decided to strike out on her own at this point and stay in the valley, follow the Schliere river and meet up with us at the end.
I remembered seeing this ridge from my last hike two weeks ago. At the time there was very little snow and I figured two weeks further and we'd only have to expect "patches of snow". This is how I announced the hike to the others when I planned it. My prediction turned out to be almost comically wrong. Or, as my companions so pointedly remarked, yes, there was only a single, very big, patch of snow. We were breaking trail on the ridge all the way.
Once we reached the end of the mountain range and came back down to the valley we met back up with Anita in the single open restaurant. A quick meal and we parted ways again. Anita waiting for the bus while we returned to our starting point, this time following the river Anita came up on. Her lonely footsteps in the snow were almost completely covered again, it was snowing so hard.
It turns out the bus is only running in the summer months, but Anita got lucky and hitched a ride in a police car. Must be the girl bonus. Earlier, on the way through the valley, a random farmer invited her in for a coffee. "It's such a long way!". She declined ;-)
We covered around 32km and 1500m elevation gain. Fantastic atmosphere in great company. The only downer is that the knee of my bad leg acted up on the way down. This happened for the first time ever during a hike four weeks ago and really pisses me off. It became so bad that my gait deteriorated to a painful limping hobble. Anyway. "Tritt sich fest".
Thanks to Paweł and Björn for donating their photos!
I went for another quick hike on Sunday. This time conditions turned out perfectly - nicely frozen snow in the early morning and beautiful blue skies later in the day. I was on my own, breaking trail all the way. The serenity, solitude and quiet of the mountains was just what I needed: the perfect cure for a stressful week at work. The ridge offers an opportunity for a long enchainement, going for an all out endurance trip. It's quite exposed and difficult though (for a hike) and come noon the snow turned into the familiar wet spring slush. Too dangerous to continue. A mission for another day. Still, a wonderful trip that got me severely sunburned - I had a red mask for a face ;-)
~14km, ~1300m elevation gain, ~5 hours