2018-05-09

Rigi Marsch 2018

"Endurance is the struggle to continue against a mounting desire to stop"

My seventh annual Rigi Marsch was also the one with the worst weather yet. It started raining at 3 in the morning and never stopped again until we finally reached the furnicular from the summit of Mt Rigi 6 hours later. At that point everyone was soaking wet and shivering in the wind. According to the organizers this was the worst weather since the beginning of the tradition in 1991. The only Rigi hike that was more challenging for me was the one after I fell off a mountain and participated while still recovering from surgery. But it was fun! Right?!

Good mood on the way in. Me after a regular work day, the others after travelling through the better part of Germany.
Queuing for our wristbands.
One of our starting groups.
Now with me in the picture.

This was also the Rigi Marsch with the highest turnout for my recruitment efforts. I'm particularly fond of the gang from Germany: my brothers Torsten and Richard travelled from Cologne and Dortmund respectively, Helmut and Ronny arrived from Stuttgart and my best man Thomas even flew in all the way from Hamburg! Then there were a whole bunch of colleagues from Google, so many in fact, that I lost track of who's who. A core group of people from my immediate team and the climbing community at Google, but also a bunch of first timers and people I only know from past Rigi Marsches. Thanks everyone for joining! So much easier to struggle in good company.

Second checkpoint. Conversation still going strong.
Third checkpoint...
...showing some signs of fatigue. Just before the rain started.

We didn't manage to stay together as a single group all the way. A nearly impossible goal anyways as everyone needs to find their own pace over the entire distance of 50 kilometers and 1500 meters elevation gain. So people split into smaller and smaller groups during the course of the night. Quite a few dropped out, some reached the summit alone and some in small groups. Conversations tend to die along the way as you run out of topics and energy (with the notable exception of Helmut who I believe is impossible to shut up). The group I stuck with for the night started at 8pm and boarded the train on the summit at 9am. The final tally is that of 2000 people 1024 made it all the way. A significantly higher dropout rate than on previous years.

There were a few type II fun moments in the pouring rain.
Fourth checkpoint. Torsten and Richard decided to bail from here, just at the base of the mountain.
Morning coffee at 5am.
Iron-willed Thomas at the final checkpoint, halfway up the mountain.

The German gang stayed at our place for the rest of the long weekend for some nice hygge time with the kids. We recuperated with traditional Swiss raclette, BBQ, a visit to the Park im Grüne and lots of board games. Good times and a chance to forget the suffering and make plans for returning next year! ;-)

Summit selfie!
On the train back down.