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

Fronalpstock (1921m), Huser Stock (1904m), Chlingenstock (1935m)

It's Sunday, Anita is here and the weather is great. We want to go floating down the Aare on inflatable rafts. As usual my planning is top notch so all boats are already rented out. The alternative plan? Why - go into the mountains of course! Mel and Christian join us and we take the car (Christian's that is) to Schlattli, near the Vierwaldstättersee (lake Lucerne). Mel and Christian have been partying hard the previous night, getting home around 5 in the morning. Thus we start late and arrive at the cable car to the tiny mountain village of Stoos around 2 o'clock. The train conductor is nice enough to wait for us until we bought tickets and off we go.

It's a very nice and easy trail with beautiful scenic vistas over the lake. Lots of people are taking advantage of the sunshine and easy accessibility of the area (there are multiple of cable cars for the lazy) and it's quite crowded. Anita is particularly fond of all the cows grazing in the area and names and greets every one of them individually. Mel successfully breaks in her new hiking boots, bought just the day before.

Anita with Mathilda
Sleeping off the booze

We are quite slow to the top of the Fronalpstock (1921m) and the restaurant is already preparing to close for the day. We buy the last few pieces of cake and sad Christian is sad getting his "Schnitzel mit Pommes" without the "Pommes" because the fryer has already been turned off ;-)

Sad Christian is sad

I separate from the others at the summit cross. It's already 17:00 in the afternoon and I still want to hike the ridge and some more peaks. This time of year it gets dark at around 8 o'clock and the sign states 2-3 hours to the last peak I'm aiming for plus 1.5 hours to get back down to base. I figure I can still fit that in.

The beginning of the ridge: Huser Stock

A wise decision it turns out to be. The ridge is beautiful with a freshly renovated trail and spectacular vistas down steep slopes on either side. I summit three more peaks on the way and arrive back down at the cable car just ten minutes later than the rest of the group, 2 hours after we separated.

We end the day in my apartment with a well deserved beer and pizza.

Trio: ~700m up and down again, ~10km
Me: ~1100m up and down again, ~14km


Return to Engelberger Rotstock (2818m), another one for the mountain

My brother Richard and his girlfriend Anke stayed with me for all of last week. Arriving late on Friday I picked them up at the train station - already a bit drunk from Google's Jamaican TGIF party (Thank God It's Friday). They biked most of the way coming here, cycling along the Rhine from Cologne, and only switched to the train for the last leg of the journey.

Sleeping in quite late on Saturday we wake up to quite agreeable weather. Of course this means we'll have to go to the mountains! A quick call to the Rugghubel hut confirms that they still have beds available and serve dinner at 18:30. So we quickly run to the supermarket, buy some breakfast, pack our backpacks in record time and head out. Arriving at the trail head in Engelberg at 3 o'clock in the afternoon we have to be quick. Beating the posted time of 4,5 hours we arrive just in time for dinner. The weather turned out not so great after all, being overcast and cloudy most of the way up a ferocious downpour gets us during the last 20 minutes of approaching the hut.

Huts run by the Swiss Alpine Club abide by a code of honor mandating at least 4 courses: a soup, a salad, a main dish and a desert. Much appreciated! But the real fun starts after dinner. After having quite a few glasses of wine one of the other guests starts "singing" - ghastly bawling. Fortunately the rest of the 50 or so patrons are good sports. Instead of silencing the offender outright one of them picks up a guitar and starts a chorus, drowning him out. Add a charming (and quite drunk) animator going from table to table and cheering people on and we soon ended up with the whole hut singing. Epic classics like "Das alte Haus von Rocky Docky" and some Swiss German mumbo jumbo we tried to follow along but failed miserably, despite having a songbook with the lyrics. Very joyful atmosphere and lots of laughter - true "Hüttenzauber".

Our turn around point: where do you go from here?

The hut has been freshly renovated and is quite spacious, so the three of us have a room for about 20 people to ourselves. It's raining heavily in the morning so we wait around to almost 9 o'clock before heading out and getting wet. Visibility is miserable so we end up scrambling up a pathless pile of rock that we believe to be the summit pyramid. The optimistic weather forecast predicted a clear blue sky and wind with a chill factor of -5°C. In reality we are wet from the rain, visibility is near zero and it is actually snowing (August!). Richard and Anke didn't bring proper gear for this type of situation (you can only carry so much on a bike) so we decide to bail.

Scrambling down

Heading down the other way from where we came we pass the Rotgrätli and escape using the cable car to Oberrickenbach. For me this is the second time I had to turn around just shy of the summit of the Engelberger Rotstock.

In total we covered a distance of about 22km and climbed 1700m.

The rest of the week was spent with sight seeing Zürich, the Google office, the Theather Spektakel including a swim in the lake and an artist balancing Richard's loaded touring bike on his chin, a rainy day bruising ourselves on the slides of the Alpamare, a night in the brewery-turned-spa, meeting friends, shopping and a day whitewater rafting on the Schwarze Lütschine (which I made more interesting by jumping over board into the ~5°C water). All good fun! Thanks for visiting guys!

My brother developed this thing with donkeys when we were hiking in the Pyrenees. Apparently Llamas are just as well.