2012-09-03

Return to Engelberger Rotstock (2818m), another one for the mountain

My brother Richard and his girlfriend Anke stayed with me for all of last week. Arriving late on Friday I picked them up at the train station - already a bit drunk from Google's Jamaican TGIF party (Thank God It's Friday). They biked most of the way coming here, cycling along the Rhine from Cologne, and only switched to the train for the last leg of the journey.

Sleeping in quite late on Saturday we wake up to quite agreeable weather. Of course this means we'll have to go to the mountains! A quick call to the Rugghubel hut confirms that they still have beds available and serve dinner at 18:30. So we quickly run to the supermarket, buy some breakfast, pack our backpacks in record time and head out. Arriving at the trail head in Engelberg at 3 o'clock in the afternoon we have to be quick. Beating the posted time of 4,5 hours we arrive just in time for dinner. The weather turned out not so great after all, being overcast and cloudy most of the way up a ferocious downpour gets us during the last 20 minutes of approaching the hut.

Huts run by the Swiss Alpine Club abide by a code of honor mandating at least 4 courses: a soup, a salad, a main dish and a desert. Much appreciated! But the real fun starts after dinner. After having quite a few glasses of wine one of the other guests starts "singing" - ghastly bawling. Fortunately the rest of the 50 or so patrons are good sports. Instead of silencing the offender outright one of them picks up a guitar and starts a chorus, drowning him out. Add a charming (and quite drunk) animator going from table to table and cheering people on and we soon ended up with the whole hut singing. Epic classics like "Das alte Haus von Rocky Docky" and some Swiss German mumbo jumbo we tried to follow along but failed miserably, despite having a songbook with the lyrics. Very joyful atmosphere and lots of laughter - true "Hüttenzauber".

Our turn around point: where do you go from here?

The hut has been freshly renovated and is quite spacious, so the three of us have a room for about 20 people to ourselves. It's raining heavily in the morning so we wait around to almost 9 o'clock before heading out and getting wet. Visibility is miserable so we end up scrambling up a pathless pile of rock that we believe to be the summit pyramid. The optimistic weather forecast predicted a clear blue sky and wind with a chill factor of -5°C. In reality we are wet from the rain, visibility is near zero and it is actually snowing (August!). Richard and Anke didn't bring proper gear for this type of situation (you can only carry so much on a bike) so we decide to bail.

Scrambling down

Heading down the other way from where we came we pass the Rotgrätli and escape using the cable car to Oberrickenbach. For me this is the second time I had to turn around just shy of the summit of the Engelberger Rotstock.

In total we covered a distance of about 22km and climbed 1700m.

The rest of the week was spent with sight seeing Zürich, the Google office, the Theather Spektakel including a swim in the lake and an artist balancing Richard's loaded touring bike on his chin, a rainy day bruising ourselves on the slides of the Alpamare, a night in the brewery-turned-spa, meeting friends, shopping and a day whitewater rafting on the Schwarze Lütschine (which I made more interesting by jumping over board into the ~5°C water). All good fun! Thanks for visiting guys!

My brother developed this thing with donkeys when we were hiking in the Pyrenees. Apparently Llamas are just as well.