BBQ at Garichti Lake

Anita was here for the weekend so we went "grillieren" at Garichti lake. Switzerland has an awesome BBQ culture - there are public places for "Grillieren" pretty much anywhere, often stocked with free firewood. Linus and Gintare had two friends from Germany, Frederik and Wagner, over for a visit. After Linus generously picked Anita and me up from the train station we took the cable car up to Mettmenalp. Wagner is originally from Brazil and introduced us to proper steaks: humongous chunks of meat and absolutely delicious. Unfortunately it was overcast and we at an altitude that still has snow left over in the shady corners. So our swim in the lake was over rather quickly ;-)

View back towards Schwanden and Glarus
It's a physical impossibility for Linus to make a normal face on photos
We chose that little peninsula to the right as our camp spot
Anita about to limbo dance under that wire
Wagner in some bushwhacking action
Gintare, Sören, Linus and Frederik
The look on our faces...
...works as a temperature indicator.

Kayaking on the Reuss

Daniel, Volodymyr and me went kayaking on the Reuss from Bremgarten to Gebenstorf. A distance of about 25km. Despite a discouraging weather forecast it turned out to be a beautiful day and we got sunburned a bit. Volodymyr made the whole thing possible by bringing his two inflatable kayaks: he shared the two seater with Daniel while I got the single one. The Reuss is not a particular challenging river and is often done with canoes and a as a learning experience. I still managed to tip over the first chance I got ;-) In my defense I have to say that this was my first time ever in a kayak and that the (only) remotely interesting rapid was almost immediately after we put our boats into the water. A ton of fun - definitely something I could spend more time on. If it wasn't for the annoying logistics of getting the kayaks to the drop-in in the first place. Possible with inflatable kayaks, but "real" ones pretty much require having a car... We were very lucky: at the end of the trip a Swiss solo kayaker offered us a ride to the train station in his SUV.

Our captain: Volodymyr
Me floating after failing to negotiate that weir
Switzerland is such an ugly country...
To counter that fail pic: me on the final clip of a very long roof section


Long weekend in Mallorca

With Anita still living in Northern Germany and me in Switzerland it is always an annoying, time consuming and expensive ordeal to see each other. While looking for flights (I'd prefer the train on principle, but unfortunately it is not cheaper, and, more importantly, takes more than 10 hours one way) we discovered that meeting on the island of Mallorca is actually less hassle than at either of our places. So we went for a long weekend at the end of June. Neither of us has been there before.

First impression: It's scorching hot! I have no clue how people can be productive and get any sort of work done in this kind of environment. You try and adjust your day to the sun, but with temperatures of 29°C at midnight (!) we took to showering/jumping into the sea/pool 6-8 times a day.

This was during the final matches of the Euro 2012 soccer championships. We watched Germany lose amongst thousands of dressed up fans on the famous Ballermann section of the beach. Afterwards drunken fans would stagger about chanting: "Wir sind zum Saufen hier, Fussball interessiert uns nicht!". ("We are here for drinking, soccer is boring!"). Way to lose - party either way ;-)
Of course the final match with Spain decidedly kicking Italy's but had the whole island partying all night.

We sampled a significant part of the island using a rental car for two days. I tried my hands at some deepwater soloing at the exit of the famous Torrent de Pareis canyon. Unfortunately I didn't bring my climbing shoes so it didn't amount to much. The area has lots of potential though.

Of course I also wanted to summit the highest peak on the island but that is closed off as a military base :-(
We strolled along the various harbors quite a bit, watching all the beautiful sailing yachts. One day... There were also a couple of these huge motor yachts of the mega rich - one with its own helicopter parked on deck.

Mallorca 2012 fotos.


Hausstock (3158m) attempt, returned from 2950m

This time I hurt myself. I set out to climb the Hausstock (3158m) and hike the famous Via Suvorov, named after some bad ass Russian General who kicked Napoleon's ass and fought his way over the pass. The weather forecast was bad with lots of rain and wind. We already had an extremely wet summer this far, leading to people skiing in July and lots of trails being washed out and dangerously soaked. I started late on Saturday, arriving at the trail head in the village of Elm at 5 in the afternoon. Posted hiking time to the Panixerpass and the refuge I want to spend the night in is 5 hours. I figure I can make it in 4 and thus get there before dark. It's cloudy but dry.

I pass a fenced in pasture with goats. However, the fence is a single wire, above the heads of the goats and probably meant for cows. So the whole herd of goats heads straight for me, surrounds me and follows, or rather leads, the way. This is funny at first but gets quite annoying after a while. I can chase them off temporarily by clapping or shouting, but they'll come right back and bump into me and each other. Amusing on a meadow, dangerous on the trail. We cross a pasture with cows where my commando goats have a stand off with a cow and chase her out of the way. It goes on like this for close to an hour. Only when a group of three hikers passes us going the other way does my flock leave me, seemingly confused about what to do next.

Commando Goats

Just as planned I arrive at the hut at dusk. It's tiny. I startle two other hikers who were already asleep at 10. I'll never get to talk to them since I'll be gone at 5 in the morning, before they wake up ;-) It's a restless night for me since the couple has heated the hut to sauna like temperatures using the small wood fired stove. He's a snorer and she needs to go to the outhouse every hour or so.

I turn off my cell phone for the night to conserve battery power. Turning it on in the morning it won't boot up again. No matter how often I try and reset, the boot process freezes at the loading screen. Great. No contact.

Shelter for the night

Heading for the Hausstock summit via the east ridge, circling the glacier da Mer, dark clouds loom over the valley and strong winds drive them my way quickly.

Bad weather incoming
The objective: east ridge right in the image

It's an alpine route, requiring some scrambling and climbing. My fingers frozen stiff, the stone wet and brittle I climb a short vertical section when it happens: a plate size rock I'm using as a handhold breaks off. I realize I'm falling - exposed high above the glacier. My lizard brain takes over. Without any conscious thought or even fully realizing what's happening I turn around 180 degrees in the air, getting my feet under me. I'm running, partly treading helplessly through the void, partly running down the near vertical cliff. I crash into a huge boulder, stopping my momentum.

I was climbing right of that red spike thing when it happened

System self check. I'm OK. Looking back up I fell for almost 5 meters. My hands are bleeding from lots of tiny cuts and abrasions, my hip is bruised and my left knee is open. I don some more clothes, find a place sheltered from the wind, eat some instant calories and decide what to do next. Although pressing on does cross my mind it seems a little too insane, especially since it has started to rain a slushy cold mix of snow and rain. So I forego the summit and head back down to continue on the Via Suvorov.

Elm village getting some love

Two hours and 900m elevation later I rest at a beautiful spot below a cross, high above lake da Pigniu. Watching a fly suck the blood seeping through my torn trousers (made from untearable G-1000, no less!) I realize how lucky I was. In the same instant I also realize that I will do it again - maybe with a little more preparation but certainly with unwavering enthusiasm. Don't know what's wrong with me, but even now I love this shit.

I've crossed into the canton Graubünden where the tiny villages speak Romansh. Now I have enough difficulty understanding Swiss German, but this sounds like I've arrived on another planet. The first village I pass should put up a sign: Congratulations, you have officially reached the end of the world. There is a bus, but only three times a day and only if you request it an hour in advance. The next village is not much better so I keep going. In the end I've hiked for 40+km, gained 2000m and lost 2400m in the last 24 hours. The train ride through the Vorderrhein valley is beautiful - I'm already scheming a kayak expedition ;-)

Beautiful trail. Imagine taking horses, cannons and 20.000 men across this!