2017-07-08

Mythen Trilogy

Our original plan was to go climbing in the high alpine. The weather forecast predicted thunderstorms in the early afternoon though and we didn't fancy getting stuck on some ridge above a glacier. So Pawel suggested the Mythen trilogy instead. It's a hike linking three peaks in our backyard. There's an option to bail between every two summits and the entire distance is just 15 kilometers and 1500 meters of elevation gain, so we figured we could squeeze it in before the weather hit.

Our route.
Klein Mythen and Haggenspitz.
Gross Mythen.

I've climbed the Gross Mythen several times in the past. It's one of my goto tourist mountains to take guests. Not challenging, with a hut offering refreshments on top and yet it looks imposingly steep and offers spectacular views. That's true for the normal route. What Pawel suggested is graded T6 though, the most difficult grade on the Swiss hiking scale. It is described thusly:

"Difficult alpine hiking: Pathless, not marked, very exposed and difficult terrain. Climbing passages up to UIAA degree II. Tricky, steep rocky terrain, glacier with a higher danger of sliding. Excellent orientation abilities, mature alpine experiences and mastering of handling with alpine gear."

The first "no fall" zone.
The Rigi ridge between Lake Lucerne and Lake Lauerz.
Pawel coming up.

We started at around 8:30 in the morning at the parking lot of the Brunni cable car. Climbing the steep ridge of the Haggenspitz (1762m) was fun. Exposed and unforgiving terrain. Good quality rock made scrambling up a joy and we quickly gained the summit. From there it's a nice traverse over to the Klein Mythen (1810m) before we had to descend almost all the way in order to reach the base of the Grosser Mythen (1898m).

The infamous Müller chimney. Looks like fun climbing but without protection and over a huge drop we deemed it too risky and opted for a safer detour.
The alternative route.

The "trail" up the Grosser Mythen is really not a trail at all but a scavenger hunt for small red dots painted on the occasional rock or tree trunk. It starts up a steep field of loose scree. Annoying, as for every step up you slide half a step back down. This was around noon and the sun was scorching hot. Later sections of the trail required scrambling on tufts of grass over huge exposure of hundreds of meters. I much prefer rock to that!

Contemplating the route ahead.

Shortly before the summit we joined the normal route with lots of tourists. People gave us curious looks as we climbed over the fence onto the normal trail, appearing seemingly out of nowhere ;-) We didn't waste much time on the summit as we were still worried about getting trapped in a thunderstorm. This is really not the kind of terrain you want to negotiate in pouring rain.

Pawel scrambling up the final few meters before we re-joined the ridge of the normal route.

We descended on the west side of the mountain. Super steep scrambling on brittle downward sloping red rock with lots of loose gravel. This freaked me out a bit. I think the risk reward ratio for this part of the trail was not worth it. Doubly so because the trail doesn't really lead anywhere anyways - you go around the mountain in a spiral before you have to climb back up to the normal route on the other side and descend on the regular footpath. Whatever - it's done ;-)

Summit in sight.
Down here? Seriously?!
Fuck it. Here we go.
The final steep shute back onto the normal route.

The thunderstorm only caught up with us once we were back in Zürich.