2013-03-09

Chrüzlistock (2709m) Snowshoe Hike

Getting up at 5 AM for an early breakfast it is still dark and freezing outside. Which is the idea. In order to avoid bad snow conditions and risk avalanches we want to start early and be back around noon. It is the second night in a row with very little sleep and I'm very tired. While we went to bed early, I slept with an open window which is looking directly at the church tower. A nice view and very central location I suppose. If the stupid thing didn't gong every fifteen minutes...

View from my room.
A friendly reminder to check your avalanche rescue kit.

Anyway. A luxurious meal and we are off to climb the Chrüzlistock (2709m). Beate is leading the way. She isn't feeling well after overdosing on cheese raclette last night (I didn't think there was such a thing as "too much cheese" for a Swiss person...) and decides to turn around after only a few hundred meters. The rest of us continue without her.

A glimpse of blue sky.
Rock formations on the summit ridge.

It is overcast and cloudy. I'm the only one hiking without walking poles, something I should seriously reconsider next time. For one thing, even when I'm the last, following in the footsteps of those before me, I still sink in and break through the surface. Annoying and much more energy intensive then distributing your weight between your feet and poles. For another, today's climb actually gets very steep and having "four wheel" traction would be a good idea.

Susanne.
Vreni.

Reaching the summit ridge we are climbing in an almost total white out with a cold breeze and fresh snow coming down. Navigation is somewhat tricky and we use our GPS devices for backup. The ridge is quite an adventure with frost covered, alien looking rock formations and steep cliffs on either side. Unfortunately we do not get to enjoy the view from the summit because we are sitting in a dense cloud.

Sheltered from the wind, resting on the summit.
Believe it or not: I got sunburned that day.

Climbing down again we take off our snow shoes for a bit and instead dig steps into the slope. Seemed like the easier and safer option as slipping here is not advisable. A crossing isn't safely possible under these conditions, so we retrace our steps back to the village. We stop for a lunch break at noon on a bench just above the village. I think this is the earliest I have ever been back down from a mountain.

Rueras.
Swiss model train.

We treat ourselves to a nice 4 course dinner at a Gilde restaurant. Very yummy. I'm still severely handicapped in conversations. Despite living here for almost two years now, I've had very little exposure to Switzerdütsch and have to concentrate really hard to overcome the language barrier. This makes me feel half deaf, with an IQ of 50 and very impolite, going "excuse me?" all the time. Hopefully I can remedy this on future SAC tours and learn ;-)

One of the construction sites of the Gotthard base tunnel - the world's longest railway tunnel and an impressive feat of engineering. Notice the huge stack of temporary worker accommodation containers on the hill to the left!
A ventilation shaft for the tunnel.

~13km, ~1350m