Raindrops falling on my head

It has been raining last night, flooding the cozy little creek which is my way to work. It's usually of a size where mothers let their little kids play in the water without having to worry about them. That changed a bit ;-)

Also, don't tell anyone, but these are top secret plans from one of the whiteboards at work:


What's up?

Didn't post any hikes for a while but I have been busy:

  • I spent a day working at the school for guide dogs for the blind Allschwil. This was part of the Google Serve 2011 engagement where Google will donate a workday and all associated costs for volunteering at charitable community projects. We spent the day shoveling around mulch building a new training path for the dogs. The school and it's pupils were quite impressive. I have never seen such considerate, well trained and well behaved animals. Teaching dogs to understand human constraints and proportions and that a railing the dog can simply walk below presents an obstacle to a human is no small feat. It was impressive in another way too: Educating a single dog costs north of CHF65.000,-. The school is well equipped and staffed (about one trainer for three dogs). Dogs get individualized meals, medicine, training regimes and, later, foster families before they get assigned to their final client (not owner, the dogs remain the property of the school). In short: they get far better education and training than we give our kids. All in a not-for-profit setting. I wonder...
    Google Serve - Guide Dogs for the Blind
  • We went to the Google Summer Picnic and competed in a beach volleyball tournament. Didn't make it to the final rounds but had a ton of fun.
  • Tim and I completed a climbing course in the Kletterzentrum Gaswerk Schlieren - apparently one of the world's largest indoor climbing centers. After three weeks we are now qualified for lead climbing (as opposed to toprope). Getting closer to my goal of doing some serious outdoor climbing ;-)
  • Anita visited and we worked on the apartment a bit and went swimming in one of the many public swimming spots on Lake Zürich. 30°C air temperature, 20°C water. We both got a bit of a sunburntan. We also had a film night in the company movie room and went for a sightseeing boat trip on Lake Zürich. Cruising along the "gold coast" which my real estate agent introduced to me with the words: "This is where the rich people live - the other side of the lake is for the millionaires".
    boat trip

    chill out and chair massage lounge

    movie room
  • I started participating in the Google SPC (Self Powered Commute) program and am cycling about 16km and 100hm every day now. Aside from exercise and fun I get some money for a charity of my choice.
  • I started a 20% project. I also ran my first job on several thousand cores, completing a calculation that used to take days in less than 10 minutes. Sweet ;-)


My new apartment

No hike this weekend. Anita was here and we went shopping for furniture (we spent a metric shit ton of money and didn't get a tenth of what we'll need). I have finally found an apartment! After applying for a very modest one and being rejected I went to see about two dozen more. Zürich's real estate market is completely nuts. Landlords can demand pretty much whatever they want and still get hundreds of applicants per offer. You hand over basically all of your personal and financial information and they'll actually follow up and call your current and former employer, your current and former landlord and your bank. In any case, after quite a long and exhausting search I finally surrendered and went for one that was well above my initial search criteria. This has the disadvantage that I'm now paying about 5 times of what I did in Münster (Zürich is the world's 7th most expensive city). But it has the non-trivial advantage that it'll easily accomodate Anita and me so we won't have to move again once she moves over here. And of course, it's very nice ;-)

Besides looking for furniture we moved my gear from the temporary apartment to the new home. First trip Anita and me, packed to the limit. For the second trip I went alone, carrying my huge backpack with an additional sack strapped onto it and my desktop computer in my arms. That made for about 65kg of stuff carried uphill over a distance of 1.6km. Don't do that. But I found out that I can actually fit a 19" display into my backpack ;-)

New apartment in Switzerland


These boots are made for walkin'...

...and that's just what they'll do.

Rautispitz hike. Almost a marathon: 35km, 2075m (!) elevation gain/loss, 10:30h walking time plus half an hour of breaks. The mountain tricked me an won this time. I did not reach either of the two proper summits (Wiggis 2282m, Rautispitz 2283m) but only the ridge (which my altimeter also gives with 2281m but which must be somewhat lower) and later the Längenegg pass at 1814m.

The weather forecast was very grim with thunderstorms and rain starting early in the day. So I left home at 5:50 in the morning, arriving at the trailhead at 7:15. 4.5 hours later I was on the ridge, having scrambled up there the last couple of hundred height meters without a trail. The idea was to hike the summits from there. However, just when I wanted to the clouds started moving in fast and you could hear it rumbling on the horizon. The ridge is 200m vertical/overhanging on one side and very steep grass on the other. Not a place to be trapped with high winds, zero visibility and exposed to lightning. So I got down again and donned my rain gear. 2 or 3 drops of rain later the clouds vanished and the day turned into a real scorcher. By that time I was already on my way down. A bit frustrated I decided to at least hike the pass and turned up again.

Lessons learned: don't trust the weatherman, bring a map.

The trail from Netstal to Wiggis is beautiful. Well maintained and sheltered by the forest. It is quite steep, but with a very constant inclination so you can find your rhythm, adjust your heart rate and hike it away ;-) The descend via Obersee and Arschwald (sic!) is another matter though. This is mostly a paved road giving stupid fat tourists access to the mountain. They'll drive their SUVs up and "camp" in cabins, huge house tents (with the creek damed up to a swimming pool!) and hotels. All very disgusting really.

I've encountered a marmot, several chamois, tons of cows and some large predatory birds doing their circling thing.

I'll be back.

(a note on the map: the GPS went a bit haywire in places, I did not really walk those strange loops in the beginning or jump over the gulch)

More fotos:
2011-06-05 Rautispitz Hike


Rigi Hochflue Hike

I wasn't feeling too well the last couple of days, with a slight case of diarrhea and just general weakness. The weather forecast looked grim with rainfall and thunderstorms in the afternoon. So I decided to go for only a short hike and start early this time, in order to benefit from the good morning weather.

I aimed for Mount Rigi again, but this time the Rigi Hochflue. It is of modest height (1698m) but posted as a T5 = challenging alpine level hike (the scale tops out at T6) with nice scrambling parts and lots of rock. I got to the train station 6:30 and to the trailhead 8:15. Beat the time to the summit by an hour. Lots of clouds, but they only served to improve the vistas and there was still enough sun coming through to burn me good.

17 km, 6 hours, 1380 m elevation gain/loss. Beautiful weather, views, trail. Success!

2011-06-04 Rigi Hochflue Hike