2011-11-06

Säntis (2502m), Girenspitz (2448m)

I was feeling sick the whole week with a sore throat, a cough and a runny nose. Thus I picked an easy peak for the weekend: Säntis (2502m), the highest point of two cantons. Nice and easy trails, very little snow. Time to summit was given with 5:50 hours. I started at 8:15 and by 13:15 I was already coming down from the second peak that day, the Girenspitz (2448m) on which I had rested for about 45 minutes after escaping from the Säntis summit. They have detonated the whole peak and replaced it with a six story tall block of concrete, turning it into a huge tourist center. Even now, outside prime season, the place was crawling with people. Very anti-climatic for a summit experience. I briefly talked with an old lady who congratulated me for actually hiking up the mountain and told me about her mountain excursions in younger years.

The road leading to the cable car base station is a cul de sac. Despite that it was still cursed with heavy traffic which echoed up the whole mountain (it's apparently very popular amongst motor bikers. Not the right way to experience a mountain IMHO. Especially when public transportation works as flawlessly as it does here. I had to change trains/busses multiple times today and didn't plan ahead at all. Still I never had to wait for more than 2 minutes. The connections worked flawlessly.

Lots of signs on the trails and on the peak itself warning people when they are leaving the air conditioned Disney land and entering the alpine. Still you'd see lots of idiots scrambling around on high heels and sneakers. Apparently a third of all mountain deaths happen while hiking. I hope most of these are accounted for by clueless folks like these. I've met some pretty cool folks too though. A family with two young kids who ran up the rocks as if it was nothing. They were secured in climbing harnesses and generelly seemed well equipped.

Weather was surprisingly mild for November. Except for the peak itself where a strong wind cooled you down it was warm and sunny. I climbed 1643m and descended 1224m, covering a distance of 20km. I arrived at the bus station by 15:15, so the whole trip took 7 hours. I did very much feel that I'm operating at reduced capacity though, felt beat for about twice the distance.

Learned a new concept too. Apparently Säntis is an "Ultra" peak, meaning its prominence over the surrounding area is more than 1500m. There are only 1524 such mountains in the world, so I think that makes a worthwhile todo list ;-)

All photos here.