2013-02-12

Stock (1600m) snowshoe hike

After Switzerland's coldest night this winter (-36°C on the Glattalp in Muotathal) we had beautiful weather on Sunday. Freezing cold under a bright blue sky. Gintare, Linus and me headed for Unteriberg with the idea of hiking Stock (1600m) and maybe Biet (1965m) if we felt adventurous. Naive us.

Linus laboring upwards.

Immediately after leaving the village we had to break trail. Deep powder. Dry, light and fluffy as I have never seen it before. Nice to look at and ski down, insanely exhausting to walk in. We likened the experience to working out on a stepper in the gym (not that I have ever done this...), but with steps half a meter high, 15kg weights on each foot and a rubber band attached to your heel pulling you back. Snow plow all the way. Luckily in a group of three we could rotate the lead. On the way back I led for a whole 400m, which must have been the slowest and most strenuous 400m of my life. It was almost level terrain, yet I only managed an average speed of 1km/h, panting and puffing all the way.

We wisely decided to not go for the stretch goal of climbing Biet, but contended ourselves with Stock.

Biet, still a long way off...
Frozen Siehlsee and Zürichsee in the distance.
Roggenstock and the Mythen as seen from the summit.

It must have been the perfect winter day - not a single cloud in the sky. Just steam rising from the half frozen creeks in the valley. Beautiful 360 degree vista from the summit. We could see across the frozen Sihlsee all the way to lake Zürich and the "flatlands" beyond.

Linus and Gintare happily running off into the void.

On the way down from the summit I stumbled and fell over face down into the snow. It was difficult to get up again. I can totally imagine drowning in the stuff. Like a pool of balls for kids, nothing solid to support you. You get yourself upright with clumsy swimming motions, much to the amusement of your companions ;-)

Mt. Awesome Ridge, also known as Gantspitz
Gintare on the lead, trying a new technique.
Fläschenspitz

While it was warm in the sun it would become chilly the second you stepped into the shade. I stopped to put on another layer of clothes. Once I started walking again my pants would make funny crackling noises. It only took the minute or so I needed to put on a pullover for my trousers to freeze.

Fluebrig
These signs stand taller than a man...

Coming down we missed the bus from Studen by mere minutes. The next one would come in 1.5 hours, at which point we would have been frozen to death. So we walked the 4 odd kilometers to the next junction and bus stop, this time arriving just in time to catch the late bus from the ski resort. All public transportation that day was crowded with skiers and outdoor enthusiasts. We had a chance meeting on the bus with Henrik, Julia, Shauna and Steven who were on their way back home from a day of cross country skiing.

I told them to freeze while I took a composite shot.

~850m up and down, ~12km distance, about 5km of which we had to break trail ourselves.