Hüenerchopf (2170m)

The weather forecast predicted rain and snow in the afternoon. The avalanche situation was uncertain. Mark and I still wanted to do something outside, so we decided to snowshoe up the Hüenerchopf. It's not super steep and most of the approach is on a gentle ridge, meaning there's not much above us that could drop on our heads.

The few houses that make up Vermol.
Don't get caught in one of those fuckers.

We parked at Vermol at the end of a steep mountain road. Luckily free of snow this time. What we didn't expect, but should have, is that this route is also super popular with ski tourers. The slopes were scraped clean to the point that it almost looked like a resort with prepared runs. The upside of course was a nice and easy track for us to follow. No breaking trail this time around.

We made quick progress and overtook a few parties of ski touring people. When we passed a hut we met a local standing neck deep in a hole in the snow he dug for getting water from the creek below. He strongly suggested we head up a specific direction because the slope we were aiming for was "about to go". We followed his advice and indeed we could see a huge old slab avalanche on the approach he had warned us about. The snow was of the wet and heavy kind that would crush you before it'd suffocate you. Thanks dude.

Dramatic clouds and menacing colors in the sky. Loved it!

We gained the summit and met two guys on skis who brought their dogs up. We had vaguely hoped to be able to continue along the ridge to the nearby Madchopf. After a few tentative steps we decided it was too dicey. Windswept untracked snow and exposed terrain followed by a descent into a very avalanche prone face didn't really seem like a good idea. So we headed back down the way we came, racing the two men with their dogs and arriving at our car at the same time with them.

The entire roundtrip of 1150m and 12km took us less than 4 hours so we were already heading home at 1pm. Enough day left to enjoy some nice family time with Leonie and Anita in the afternoon ;-)

Looking back. The summit cross is just visible in the top right corner.
Luckily the ice was next to the road instead of on it...


Ijental (1545m)

Paweł and I went on another snowshoe trip on Saturday. This time the weather forecast was pretty gloomy with snow/rain and significant avalanche danger. Paweł also needed to be back home by 6 to pick up his family from the airport. Thus we decided to play it safe and stay low and chose a route with many opportunities for bailing. We went to the Ijental.

Still in civilization.
Paweł. Säntis in the far distance.

The adventure started with trying to find a spot to park the car. We went up a few of the small roads servicing individual farms on the mountain. These were mostly cleared of snow. The operative term being "mostly". Once I stopped so we could get our bearings and decide where to go, we got stuck. My winter tires were not finding enough purchase to get us going uphill again. So I had to roll back down the single lane road in reverse. We only learned our lesson after this happened for a second time and finally gave up and parked at the church down in the village.

I like these solitaire trees. They seem to be telling a story of a long and proud life.
Sören coming up. Check out the high-heel mode on my snowshoes. Very convenient on steep ascents.

We followed a nice trail through the forest up to the ridge that we had picked as our route for the day. Along the way we met a young ski touring couple coming towards us. She was on skis, he on some kind of snowboard. The curious thing about it was that it didn't seem to have any bindings so he was essentially using it as a surfboard, riding it down the mountain by just balancing on it. Looked very difficult.

We skirted a small ski resort (a single drag lift) where some kind of special event was going on. Lots of hollering and shouting from a small crowd of spectators and a bunch of people dressed up in ancient (military?) uniforms, skiing old wooden skis. No idea what it was, but it looked fun and involved lots of tumbling down the slopes.

Past that we had the mountain to ourselves and were breaking trail along the ridge. We were both not feeling super strong and the snow was extremely sticky, making progress laborious. Thus we decided to forgo the final 100 meters of elevation gain and the only named summit on the ridge (Bremacher Höchi 1641m) and returned via the Ijental valley instead.

Despite the depressing forecast the weather held and we even had a few extremely hot moments when the sun broke through the clouds. I was actually looking forwards to some shade beneath the trees - rare on a snowshoe trip! We covered about 15 kilometers and 900 meters of elevation gain. Another nice day out. But then, you can never go wrong by going to the mountains ;-)