Last week's excursion taught me to stay a bit lower to avoid the season's treacherous snow conditions at high altitudes. To make up for missing altitude I figured I'd just choose a very long route. The idea was born to hike from the village of Matt to Flums, climbing all the summits in between and staying high on the Gulder and Gips ridges. People typically do this as a two day trip, taking advantage of the cable cars in the beginning and the end. I figured we could squeeze this into a single day without cheating by using cable cars.
Christian and Andrey signed up for the trip. We took the first train out of Zürich and arrived in Matt around 8 in the morning. We were off to a bad start, heading entirely into the wrong direction. It took us half an hour to discover our mistake and backtrack. Thus it was already half past eight when we finally started up the right mountain. Very late for the ambitious itinerary I had in mind.
We were headed for the Fuggstock. Up to about 1850 meters altitude the trail follows good dirt tracks through meadows and forests. Then we went straight up the flank of the mountain through pathless terrain. Christian got trouble with his knees and was of half a mind of turning around. We could convince him to stick around for the first summit (didn't take much convincing ;-)). We sat on the summit in the sun and enjoyed beautiful vistas just around noon.
We said good-bye to Christian, who headed back down towards Matt, while we continued from the Fuggfurggle up the Gulderstock. The actual summit of the Gulderstock is a few meters lower than a neighboring tower. So we tried to climb up the tower too. Unfortunately it is split in the middle and "the" tower is really two towers. I picked the wrong one and ended up two meters below the highest point of the mountain. No way to cross the chasm safely from where I was. Damn.
From the summit a bit of scrambling through a scree field brought us back onto the ridge. It was beautiful. Clouds were boiling up dramatically from the valleys. A floating sea of clouds below us while we enjoyed blue skies. The landscape completely wild and deserted, no soul around.
We reached the aptly named Teufgrätli (devil's ridge). I assume it deserves this name for its bright red rock and because you'll have an appointment with the devil if you dare walk on it. We came to a steep drop with downwards sloping, crumbling shingles of rock covered in a layer of wet sludge. With an exposure of a hundred meters or so to either side. You could not have made it any more treacherous if you'd tried. Andrey actually slipped and caught his fall on the ledge just in time. I scrambled through it while Andrey retreated to meet back up with me on the slopes below the ridge. There had been snow as recently as a few days ago. While it was all melted away now it still left the grass wet and brushed downwards. Very strenuous to walk on. We regained the ridge as soon as possible.
The ridge got dramatically easier afterwards and we made quick progress up the Wissmilen, the last peak for the day. From the summit we were finally on regular hiking trails again and progress from there was quick and easy. A good thing too, as we'd soon be hiking in the dark. Walking down all the way to Flums was an arduous effort of twenty kilometers. Distance wise, the Wissmilen summit only marked the half way point of the trip.
At the end of a very long day we reached the train station at nine o'clock in the evening. Tired but happy.