Sunday Snowshoe Tour from Einsiedeln to Schwyz

We got a dump of perfectly dry powder over the last couple of days. Everyone was headed for the outdoors. Disagreement over the best way to enjoy the beautiful conditions lead to some people going snowboarding, others downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, ski touring or, as Håvard, Christian an me decided, snow shoe touring. We didn't even reach consensus in our small group of three though, so Håvard was on skis while Christian and me were using snowshoes. Worked out surprisingly well.

We started from the town of Einsiedeln just after sunrise at half past eight and headed up the ridge towards Schwyz. The avalanche danger on the weekend was significant, so we decided on a safe route staying below the tree line. We still climbed every summit on our way. At some point I even lost track of how many (minor) summit crosses we had already passed.

Luckily for us most of the trail was already broken in and we could take advantage of a nice compressed path through the deep snow. Otherwise we would have never been able to hike the whole distance. The parts we did have to lead ourselves were extremely exhausting. Especially on steeper slopes we were plowing through waist high snow. At the end we probably compressed an estimated 5.3 gazillion metric tonnes of the fluffy white stuff. Fortunately it was well below freezing and the snow dry and light.

Breaking out of the woods at some point we crossed ways with another group of snowshoe hikers. We earned us some looks of disbelief and admiring comments when answering where we were coming from and where we were headed.

Håvard, probably steeled by Norwegian winters, was wise enough to bring a gas stove. Thanks to him we could refill our (partially frozen) water bottles by melting snow and enjoy a hot coffee in the shelter of a woodshed.

It started snowing and getting dark just as we set out on the final, but arduously long, descent towards Schwyz. This was mostly boring "Kilometerfressen" on minor roads that served the occasional farm on the hill.

Congratulations on Christian's first ever snowshoe tour! Definitely not your typical entry level easy going warm up route ;-)

~22km, ~1200m up, ~1500m down, ~10.5 hours of hiking


Haglere (1949m), Nünalpstock (1894m), Haldimattstock (1793m), Bärenturm (1799m)

There was supposed to be only little rain on Sunday, so Linus, Gintare and me decided to go on a hike. I was tasked with choosing a mountain with the explicit instructions to pick one where a single slip would not necessarily be fatal (as opposed to last time). What would be more obvious than going to the nice little village of Sörenberg?!

Leaving Adliswil at 6:30 in the morning we arrive at Sörenberg post office at 9:00 o'clock. The trail is easy and the weather overcast but nice. Getting higher and higher we are soon walking on frozen ground and have to cross patches of hard snow and sheer ice. Good thing we are almost at summit altitude already and the terrain is not very difficult - otherwise it could have been tricky indeed without crampons.

The day is a good demonstration for why you want to dress in layers: starting in t-shirt and sweating in the sun we are soon shivering in the wind on the summit despite wearing all clothes we brought including gloves and beanies. Hiking along the long ridge we cover four summits: Haglere (1949m), Nünalpstock (1894m), Haldimattstock (1793m) and Bärenturm (1799m). We count exactly three drops of rain (one for each of us) before heading down from the Sattelpass towards Giswil. It's a long and boring descent mostly on paved roads. We arrive 15 minutes past 5, just as it gets dark and a full two minutes before the train leaves - perfect timing ;-)

~1200m up, ~1900m down, 24km, 8 hours total time

Ridge leading up to the Nünalpstock (1894m)
Linus' camera face - he can't help it.
We hiked the whole half-circle visible here.
One has to get down too...


Neuenalpspitz (1816m), Gmeinenwishöchi (1818m)

Having beers and burgers with the climbing gang on Friday night, after several hours in the gym, Linus, Gintare and me devise a plan to go hiking on Saturday. It's a short night, coming home at 2 in the morning and leaving for the mountains at 7. There'll be rain for most of the weekend starting from Saturday afternoon, so we figure we better be quick. Linus and Gintare screw up the train schedule, hurrying to the station in a taxi only to discover that they are a full hour too early. Then SBB throws a wrench into our plans: We have quite a complex schedule of train connections to get where we want to be - the tiny village of Stein. The first train has some issues with a door and as a result is 9 minutes late, making us miss all the connecting trains and waste a full hour waiting around. It's past 11 o'clock when we finally set out to hike the mountain.

Our goal is to hike the nice ridge we saw last weekend. It is quite beautiful. Clouds are racing the sky and the weather feels raw and primal. The ridge is steep, some parts require scrambling and easy climbing. It is made much more difficult and dangerous by slippery melting patches of snow. Quite a few spots are of the "you slip, you die" variety and require full concentration.

All the way up we can watch a helicopter on the opposite slope going back and forth hauling trees down the mountain. Progress is slow but we still manage to climb the Neuenalpspitz (1816m) and the Gmeinenwishöchi (1818m) before heading down in the light of our head torches towards Alt St. Johann. Typically for the Swiss public transportation system we only have to wait 10 minutes for the next bus. It starts raining almost precisely the minute the weather forecast predicted it would - 1900, just when we are boarding the train back home ;-)

~14km, ~1200m elevation gain

I told them to play the scene from Titanic...
Watch your step - very slippery!
The village of Stein in a brief moment of sun.
Some scrambling required.
Treacherous ground.

Stockberg (1782m)

Anita, Linus and me headed out to hike the Stockberg (1782m) last Sunday. The weather forecast predicted rain for the whole day but we were lucky and got a slight sunburn instead - no rain at all. The first snow of the year was almost completely gone again and so we had a nice and easy Sunday walk.

10km, 1000m elevation gain


Zindlenspitz (2097m), Rossalpelispitz (2075m)

Monday was Knabenschiessen in Switzerland - a half-day off national holiday where teenagers compete in a target practice using assault rifles - what could possibly go wrong? I arrive at work uncharacteristically early in order to be able to leave at noon. I have just read about a crazy project on hikr.org: a lake Wägital round trip via all the surrounding peaks. A feat which has only been repeated 7 times since 1958. 40km, almost 10.000m change in elevation on T5-T6 ridges - in 24 hours. I want to investigate the feasibility of training for this and to see the area in question.

Starting from Innerthal at 2 o'clock I'm headed for the Zindlenspitz (2097m). Time to summit is given with 4.5 hours, I make it in 3. Not much time to enjoy the view I continue straight on along the ridge to Rossalpelispitz (2075m). Hurrying back down to the lake I arrive just in time with dusk. In my naivete I thought I might be able to take a bus back out. Hah! As soon as it gets dark the place is deserted. Barely a light in any of the houses, no cars, and the next bus at 6 in the morning. So I keep walking and mentally brace myself for a long night and 14km walk to the next train station.


Luck would have it that after the first hour or so a car with two young guys stops and I can hitchhike to town. They even offer to drive me all the way back to Adliswil, going back to Zürich themselves (they were fishing at the lake till now). I decline as I need to be at Zürich main station to pick up my bike. Anyway, thanks guys!

This reminds me: witness the complete awesomeness of Switzerland (on a deserted mountain hut in the middle of nowhere today):

On my bike ride back home I encounter the largest conglomeration of spiders and spider webs I have ever seen in one place. Perfect spot on a lamp under a bridge. Dozens and dozens of spiders mounting one net on another. It's crawling.

From what I've seen so far I have to say hats off to Delta and his "Wägital Rundtour Speed". Hiking along these ridges feels scary and brittle in the best of conditions. Let alone frickin' running along them, in the dark, alone, exhausted, when a single misstep will kill you. That's trail running at Olympic level I'd say, utterly impossible.

~19km on foot, ~20km by bike, ~1460m elevation gain/loss