Engelberger Rotstock (2818m), attempt, returned from 2604m

A long day, 17 hours on the road, from 5:20 to 22:20. It got off to a bad start. I didn't sleep well and was feeling sick with a sore throat, running nose and slight case of diarrhea. My desk neighbor at work has been sick and spewing his gems all over me for the last week, so this was probably having an effect by now. The weather looked depressing with low hanging clouds and not a bit of blue sky in sight. Not one to be easily discouraged I still headed out with the goal of climbing the Engelberger Rotstock (2818m). And a good decision it turned out to be!

I started in the valley in the tiny village Oberrickenbach. Ascending through frozen meadows I would soon eclipse the clouds to a stunningly beautiful alpine panorama. Perfectly deep blue sky and the sun shining down on an endless sea of clouds stretching far beyond the horizon. Topped by an almost full moon still hanging in the sky. Dreamlike. The clouds drowned out all the noise coming from the valley so the silence up here was absolute and deafening. Not a bird or insect. No human. No plane, nothing. Mountain tops would peak through the sea of clouds like islands. In fact, you'd be tempted to dive right in and swim a little.

Reaching the first ridge I was supposed to traverse for a while before crossing over to "my" mountain. Unfortunately I missed the trail due to the markers being buried in snow and descended too far. So I had to scramble up again, adding the 200 or so odd meters to my path that I'd needed later. On this side the snow was packed hard and mostly frozen. Good to walk on in crampons. Unfortunately for me, crossing the summit ridge the snow was exposed to the sun and turned to wet slush. Very exhausting to navigate as you'd sink in every step. I was the first one to break a trail which made it even more strenuous. About 200 meters below the summit, at around 4 o clock in the afternoon I decided to give up and turn around. After a climb of almost 2000m, and close to 20km I was quite exhausted in my current almost-sick condition. And even if I turned around immediately I'd get down to the valley in the dark.

I stopped at the Rugghubelhütte on my way down to get some life saving calories. Half a liter of coke for instant revitalization and a big slice of cake with lots of cream. Took me all of two minutes to gulp down ;-) I earned some looks of disbelief when I answered questions of where I just arrived from and where I was going. Apparently everybody else was taking the cable car and sleeping in the hut before even attempting the summit. They thanked me for breaking the trail ;-)

I got slightly sunburned and was glad I brought my new sun glasses. The reflections on the snow would have been blinding otherwise. I have paid 1000CHF (!) for this pair of glasses, making them the most expensive (of any kind) I have ever owned. Disability tax. I need sunglasses suitable for the extra radiation at high altitudes, with a strong UV filter and covering the eyes completely. So far, no problem. But I also need corrective glasses. Problem. For my particular sight issues I had the choice between exactly three models, all equally expensive. I've tried clips to my regular glasses before, but they don't work. They are too small and have issues with fogging and collecting lint between the glasses. So I bit the bullet.

Totals for the day:

30km, 1987m elevation gain, 1887m elevation loss. Hiking time from 8:00 to 19:30, 4 hours of which in crampons. Absolutely perfect weather and some of the most stunningly beautiful vistas yet.

2011-10-15 Engelberger Rotstock

BTW, these were all taken with my new camera: A Nikon D7000 with an AF-S Nikkor 16-85mm lens. I'm still learning the ropes using it. Noticeable difference? If not I can avoid carrying a huge, expensive and unwieldy 1kg chunk of equipment around ;-)