Gross Spitzen (2399m) and New Year's Eve

Mel and Christian joined our merry band for New Year's Eve. We combined the Swiss tradition of cheese raclette with the German tradition of Feuerzangenbowle (fire tongs punch), watching the cult classic movie of the same title. Went to bed around 4:30 in the morning after DJ Sarah incited a crazy dance performance.

Torsten couldn't resist jamming in Anita's church while Richard, Anke and I went climbing at our local gym.
Crowded table.
The only person not allowed to drink alcohol is preparing it for the rest of us - cheers Anita! ;-)

While the others had to leave back for the real world (and work) one by one, Richard and Torsten stayed on a bit longer so we could climb another mountain. We had our eyes set on the Gross Spitzen with the intention of continuing along the ridge. The guy running the cable car warned us that the last party that tried it had to give up and turn around, despite showing up in full mountaineering gear and crampons. We just had our regular hiking attire. The Gross Spitzen proved to be no trouble at all, but the ridge was a treacherous combination of a thin layer of snow on a sheet of blank ice. So we decided to just take a detour through the valley instead of risking it on the ridge.

Me testing the (frozen) waters and deciding it to be turnaround time.


Fronalpstock (1920m), Chlingenstock (1934m)

We had a bit of a family reunion over New Years. My brothers Torsten, Richard and cousin Anselm and their girlfriends (or fiancées as the case may be ;-)) Sarah, Anke and Marleen stayed with us for a couple of days. We had a pretty good time with lots of "chillaxing", good food, a visit to the Alpamare, the wildlife park Langnau, ultra spiritual yoga sessions and watching the jaw dropping Planet Earth II BBC documentary in the evenings.

Admiring the wolves.
Extreme chillaxing.
The old funicular at Stoos. It is scheduled to be replaced by a very futuristic one in 2017.
View towards Rigi Hochflue and Rigi Kulm.
Anke, Richard, Anselm.
Sarah, Anita, Sören, Torsten, Richard, Anke.
Sören, Anselm, Sarah, Richard, Torsten, Anke.
Beautiful ridge.
A table and bench made from a single tree - high up on the ridge.
Not too shabby a view.
Sea of clouds.
The advantages of a record snow poor season: no skiers! ;-)
The Ü30 yoga group doing their best.
Stick bread in the evening.
And Planet Earth II on the big screen.


Christmas market in Strasbourg

Anita and I spent a few days in Strasbourg for her birthday, exploring the famous Christmas market and the historic old town.

The Christmas Capital
The decoration was completely over the top everywhere in the old town.
In the super tiny elevator in our hotel - it barely fit the 2.5 of us.


Piz Raschil / Stätzer Horn (2575m)

The original plan for Sunday was to go ice climbing. We scratched that idea because the ice hasn't really formed yet and Felipe had to go apartment hunting. So Paweł, Mark and I decided to go snowshoeing instead. This too turned out to be a bit optimistic. We headed for a mountain range near the ski resort Lenzerheide. And people were skiing. But it looked quite sad indeed. White lines of artificial snow through a brown landscape. Good for us, because it implied none of the higher lifts were running and we had the ridge to ourselves. Bad for us, because we ended up not needing the snowshoes at all and carried them in our backpacks all the way.

Good morning Switzerland!
Mark with photogenic hair in the wind.
Paweł praying to the hot air balloon before swallowing it whole.

I have a classification of mountains, where a small, not particularly interesting one is a "Bumm-Zack" - a quick tick on the todo list, no big challenge. This is in contrast to a proper "Zack-Booom!" - a proud mountain that requires commitment and effort. Now our ridge started with a saddle where one could take a detour up the Crap la Pala (2150m). This modest bump didn't even warrant the title "Bumm-Zack", so I called it a "Bumm-Zäckchen". This led to the indignant response of my companions that in Switzerland it ought to be a "Bumm-Zäckli". Now we have the only native German speaker being taught proper German by a Pole and a Brit. On expressions I have made up in the first place! What has the world come to?! Philistines!

There were a few steeper bits.

Anyway, we did a quick hike and ticked off Crap la Pala (2150m), Piz Scalottas (2325m), Piz Danis (2497m) and Piz Raschil / Stätzer Horn (2575m). At that point we had to make a decision whether to continue along the ridge and finish off towards the Fulhorn, which I had attempted a few weeks earlier, or go back down to the car.

We decided to bail. Paweł was feeling a bit under the weather, suffering from a cold; dark clouds were looming at the horizon (and indeed it would rain a bit on our way back) and continuing would significantly complicate the logistics of returning back to the car. Even so, it was a joy to be hiking with a super strong team. We covered 1650m altitude gain and nearly 20km distance, beating the posted times despite the snowy conditions. And still everyone was slightly disappointed to quit so early - a good sign for future outings ;-) On the way back we honored the tradition of stopping at Cindy's diner for a well deserved burger.

Heading straight down because traversing was tiresome.
Lifts weren't running for these slopes so we had them to ourselves as "descent highways".
Dangerous road conditions.