2014-08-02

Wichelhorn (2767m)

My best friend from high school days, Thomas, flew in from Rostock to visit for five days. I was still jet-lagged from an intense three week vacation in Canada, so we took it slow the first two days. We did the Google office tour; a stroll around Zürich; a hike up our "Hausberg" Uetli; a boat ride on lake Zürich; a relaxing afternoon in the spa; and a BBQ night watching the first of August Swiss National Day fireworks from our balcony. Of course we also had to climb a mountain ;-)

On lake Zürich.

I picked the Wichelhorn. A peak I hadn't climbed yet, but which I knew to be in a very rugged and dramatically steep area of the Alps. The hike is rated T4, definitely challenging for a beginner, but who doesn't like a bit of adventure on their days off? We took the car to the tiny village of Intschi. I hadn't considered that it sits on the very last couple of kilometers before the Gotthard tunnel - the traffic bottleneck of the Alps. Consequently we wasted almost an hour waiting around in a traffic jam caused by a tunnel we didn't even want to go through. Oh well.

Our objective. You can just make out the summit cross.
View from the hut.
The Niedersee just below the hut - unreal colors.

The weather forecast predicted lots of rain and occasional thunderstorms. We got lucky. While it was very cloudy it only drizzled lightly a couple of times, not even enough to make us don our rain gear. Once we returned on Sunday though it started pouring buckets as soon as we were back in the car. Perfect timing. This had the nice consequence that the Leutschach hut, where we stayed from Saturday to Sunday, was nearly deserted. Most people had cancelled their reservations. We shared a bottle of wine with an architect and a photographer from Germany and spent a nice evening in the hut together.

Our new friends taking advantage of the steps we cut.
Capricorn showing us how it's done.

Finding the hut was a bit funny. And embarrassing. We hiked the shortest, most direct route without any detours (I have a GPS recording to prove it). The whole way I was disoriented on our map though and believed us to be somewhere else. So I kept telling Thomas we still had at least an hour or so to go when we suddenly found ourselves on the doorstep of the hut. A good motivational technique - he took it as a welcome surprise ;-)

Thomas scrambling up the ridge.
Summit!

After a comfortably late start at 7:30 we set out to the Wichelpass at 2558m. The two Germans from the night before accompanied us this far but continued on west towards the Sewen hut. We started our way up the rocky ridge towards the summit. The crux at the very beginning of the route has been defused by a metal ladder. The rest is easy scrambling over boulders. We encountered two ibexes but otherwise had the summit to ourselves. The last entry in the summit book was four days old. After a relatively short stay (it was cold and windy with threatening dark clouds) we returned to the pass and went down the mountain on the other side from where we came up, completing the circle back to our car.

Great trip with a great friend - thanks for visiting!
~23km
~+-2200m

"Thomas hat kein Bock mehr und will nur noch nach Hause!" ;-)