One Week of Sailing in the Mediterranean Sea

When we went sailing on the Ijsselmeer in autumn of last year it was cold and windy. While this meant fun sailing it also meant a lot of freezing on the rudder. We had this meme going on of mythical Pina Colada weather where we would relax in the sun on deck. We vowed to make it a reality this year.

So it was that the three brothers Sanchez, Sanchez and Sanchez and their fair ladies set out to Pula in Croatia. Driving there in our trusty old VW van took a little longer than expected. We had a bit of fun during a border crossing traffic jam where we would overtake the same van with a Norwegian family with three teenage girls again and again. Making faces and showing off our various on-board snacks. I think we won the final round by a huge margin with our huge can of Wiener's beating their flimsy box of cereal!

Apparently there is a thing among sailors to go nudist. We went skinny dipping quite a bit ourselves, but people crawling around their boats cleaning naked was a bit too much ;-) Anyway, great vacation, great fun.

We are, in fact, drinking Pina Coladas here.
We had some wind, but a lot of idle cruising and even motoring as well.
Richard in combat gear. We went swimming and diving quite a bit. The boat has an electronic depth finder and Torsten managed to dive down the anchor chain at >12m. My ears were exploding long before that. It's also a bit scary having so much water above you... even if it is as beautifully clear as here.
Surfing is so last century. The new thing is called Brother - Boarding!
Anyone seen the Open Water movies?
We only spent the first and last night in a harbor. The rest of the week we anchored in cute little coves like this one.
In the end we decided Cuba Libres taste a lot better than Pina Coladas...
Full moon following a full sun ;-)
This is when Sarah decided all of us should wear Dirty Sanchez shaves.
Meet the brothers Sanchez, Sanchez and Sanchez!
Setting off on an expedition to find fresh water.
"My life is a stereo, turn me up and let go."
Sailing is hard and dangerous work. It needs your full attention and strength at all times!
I brought the entire series of Transmetropolitan graphical novels (cheers Thomas!) - a big hit with the crew.
Another night...
...in an ugly bay with just ourselves to keep us company. So sad.
Motoring and being pulled by the boat.
Quite a bit of work to hang on to it at ~6 knots.
Shelter for the night.
I brought my climbing shoes in the hopes of some deep water solo opportunities. Alas, this steep sandy cliff is all I got.
Exploring treasure island.
The beautiful little pirate nest of Susak.
The crew on our last day.


Zwächten (3080m), Mountaineering Course Spannorthut

I attended a one week mountaineering course at the Spannorthut near Engelberg with the Swiss Alpine Club. The idea was to learn how to make future expeditions a little less suicidal and to meet like minded mountain addicts. The hut is framed by the jagged towers of the Gross Spannort and the impressive 800m near vertical face of the Schlossberg. We spent four days learning and practicing proper rope technique, knots, multi-pitch climbing, rappelling, crevasse self rescue, improvising a whole slew of pulley systems, reading topographic maps, using a compass and so on.

The hut with a group of soldiers training.
View from the Schlossberglücke. Bad weather?
Substitute summit: Zwächten.

Wednesday was summit day. We had a false start, gearing up at 4 in the morning only to go back to bed because the weather looked bad and prone to thunderstorms. Rising again four hours later we gave it another shot and hiked up to the Schlossberglücke. It was still overcast and unstable so we decided to deviate from our original goal of climbing the Gross Spannort (3198m) and go to the Zwächten (3080m) instead. I was a little disappointed by this decision as it still seemed possible to go for the original goal. Then again, for some reason I quickly earned a reputation as being risk prone.

Tom filling in the summit book and being offered the "Gipfelschluck".
Chilling on the glacier at the Spannortjoch. Still time to climb the Gross Spannort!

We did reach the summit of the Zwächten and had a ton of fun sliding down the steep snow covered slopes back to the hut. I never imagined that regular hiking boots and an ice ax would make for such a fun and competent ski replacement! The whole group was cheering and tumbling down the mountain - practicing self arrests from time to time (voluntary or no).

...or tumbling down the mountain.

Just to mock us the weather was nearly perfect all other days of the week. I felt a bit underutilized by a single summit attempt and thus spent a lot of energy climbing around the hut. One of our mountain guides and the hut's custodian, Tom, is a very competent and experienced climber and has bolted a lot of routes in the area. I managed to repeat a couple of 6cs - unfortunately none of them in good style (I was top roping and needed a rest).

Freddy making a face.
Eric climbing.
Titlis face. Featuring some of Switzerland's hardest multi pitch routes.
Spannort towers.

Tom has been working on bolting an insanely cool line through the Schlossberg face for a couple of years now. He's about two thirds of the way to the top, doing all the work according to the highest ethical standards (asking the original first ascend team for permission; placing only few bolts and bolting from below - using the drill while climbing a route in the six-ish difficulty range!). I'll definitely be back for this one! Just need to work on my endurance a "bit" ;-)

Schlossberg face. I'll be back!

Awesome week with a cool group. Special thanks to our two guides Tom and Freddy and to Marianne for revitalizing us with good food every night.