Oberjoch (2486m)

Andrey and I intended to climb the Schwarzhoren ob Grindelwald (2928m). We started a bit later than planned and couldn't park as close to the mountain as we wanted. Leaving the parked car at dawn we made good progress on frozen trails. There is still very little snow in the mountains and we also picked a Southerly approach. Still, by the time we reached the Schreckfeld at 2000 meters altitude we were digging our way through snow. This is a ski area and usually quite busy. Not on this day though. The snow is still not good enough for skiing and most lifts aren't running yet. Perfect for us. Unfortunately it became more and more obvious that we wouldn't reach our objective in time. We estimated at least three more hours to the summit which would leave us only little more than an hour of day light for the return. Maybe we shouldn't have picked the shortest day of the year for a 2000m ascent ;-) It was also getting dangerously warm, increasing the risk for avalanches. So we decided to scramble up the Schynenblatten instead. These are steep slopes (35° - 40°) connecting two ski areas. Turned out to be a lot of fun and provided a feeling of "mountaineering light". We arrived back at the car at sundown, proving we had made the right call not to go for the summit.

~+-1350m, ~22km

Our objective is the peak on the left.

Eiger North Face. This is where legends are born.

We scared these guys.

Me scrambling over the final cornice.

The delta in air pressure is enough to inflate the packaging.



Christkindlesmarkt Nuremberg

Anita and I flew to Nuremberg for a weekend. This may be a trivially obvious observation for other people, but only after we went shopping for a new purse for Anita did I notice that handbags seem to be absolutely indispensable accessoires for the modern woman. One hundred percent of the female variety of the human species in the crowded city was carrying one. Who knew?!

Nice city. Cities that haven't been completely flattened in WWII or have just been built recently (North America) have a special flair to them. Nuremberg has a fully intact medieval fortification wall. As a consequence the entire heart of the city is mostly free of cars and very pedestrian friendly in any case.

A fountain depicting the cycle of a relationship. This is her killing him.
Nuremberg is famous for its nativity plays.
Stylish train station.
It was a bit crowded.
The world's largest Feuerzangenbowle.
They cheated me - no chocolate on the underside!
In the city castle.
Medieval revolver.
Awesome stair case. Behold the ingenious engineering with the beams going only half way.
Albrecht Dürer house. The art was only mildly interesting. But a medieval household and the craft of mixing colors and printing replicas was fascinating.
Yes, we came back to this a few times ;-)
Opera house.


Wildhuser Schafberg (2373m)

There's still very little snow in the Alps, so Ben and I decided to try another hike. I had selected an approach via a South facing slope, hoping for even thinner snow cover. As last time, we left our snow shoes at the base. This time it turned out to be the right call. While everything was covered in hoar frost there were only very few patches of snow which we could easily avoid. We went up the normal route of the Wildhuser Schafberg (2373m) with the intention of continuing to the Jöchli (2335m). However, once we reached our summit and caught glimpses of the route ahead through the dense fog, we decided to turn back instead. The route would have been a little too dicey in bad visibility like this. If either of us had known the exact route from previous reconnaissance I might have gone for it. Alas, we didn't. Still, it was a very nice hike with a distinct alien planet feel to it. The night before we had the entire neighborhood over at our house for a holiday party with Feuerzangenbowle and wine. Getting up at 5 in the morning to go up a mountain was a bit rough ;-)

~12km, +-~1500m

Early morning in an alien world.

A minor obstacle in our way. We found our own way traversing directly underneath the cliff. By avoiding the actual trail for a while we saved a few meters in elevation.

The Jöchli is the peak barely visible to the right. We would have had to traverse the snow and then scramble up the steep face to get there. We decided to pass.

Schafberg minor summit.

Ben making his way from the minor summit to the actual highest point of the Schafberg.

Major show-offs!

Supposedly this mountain offers great vistas.


Leistchamm (2101m)

Another gorgeous winter day. Ben and I set out to climb the Leistchamm near Amden. We left our snowshoes in the car which turned out to be a bad call (sorry Ben!). While we could follow somebody else's footsteps for a while they gave up and turned around suddenly, not even a third up the mountain. So we had to break our own trail. Balls-deep in heavy snow made for strenuous progress. We still managed to reach the summit in good time. Three hours from the parking lot. The posted (summer!) hiking time was given with 2:40 hours. A couple joined us on the summit, smiling and thanking us for plowing snow for them. The way back down was fun. We didn't bother with switch backs this time and simply headed straight down. Kamikaze in deep snow ;-) In the end it took us about 5 hours to hike a distance of 6 km and 900 vertical meters.

Easy going!
Easy going?
Light at the end of the mountain.
Summit at 2101m.
Lake Walen. More than 1500m below us. Almost straight down from where I'm standing...
View towards Sargans.