Brienzer Rothorn (2351m), Schongütsch (2319m)

Helmut, Susanne, Paul and Nils stayed with us for a few days on their way back to Germany from vacation in Austria. Helmut likes suffering from long endurance hikes and bike rides. What he does not like is heights and exposure to heights. Susanne on the other hand enjoys ridges and some scrambling. So Helmut volunteered to take care of the kids for a day and allow Susanne and me to go hiking. Unfortunately it was raining from morning to evening on the Sunday we had planned for this. So we took the kids to the climbing gym on Sunday and I took a day of vacation to squeeze the hike in on Monday.

The cable car running from Sörenberg (!) to the Brienzer Rotstock.
On the approach.

I chose (a part of) the Hardergrat as our destination. It is a beautiful area with just the right amount of excitement on a nice ridge. I've done the entire thing twice before (once, twice) and it was a fantastic experience. The plan was to approach from the other side of the mountain this time to include some novelty for me.

Summit selfie.
Comparing the promised vistas of the famous Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau mountain range with reality.

The weather forecast had predicted that it would be dry, but cloudy, with occasional glimpses of sun. Not ideal, but not bad either. In the end we spent the entire day in the clouds with only dozens of meters of visibility. Somewhat disappointing, considering that we should have had beautiful vistas of three lakes. It led to a somewhat surreal and funny moment where we wanted to take a short break and were looking for a dry space to sit. I checked my GPS and proclaimed that we ought to be right at a (closed) restaurant. We couldn't see the building, but my voice, spoken at normal volumes, echoed back to us from the wall of the very restaurant we were looking for. Invisible in the fog, not 20 meters in front of us. We had a similar experience once we gained the ridge. I told Susanne how there were tons of ibexes the last time I was here. And sure enough, we could barely make out some ghostly silhouettes in the fog. Same for the train: you can reach the restaurant at the top of the mountain via an old authentic steam engine powered cogwheel train. We could smell it, hear it right next to us, but not see it, despite being right above the station platform.

Schongütsch summit with "Das Kreuz" as it is marked on the map.

We took an extended launch break in the restaurant at the top of the mountain. Luckily this was open. The only other patrons was a construction crew, working to get the local slopes and cable cars ready for the winter season. We had soup and a relaxed conversation, passing time while checking the weather radar for signs of improvement. No luck. So we decided to try and walk along the ridge for a while and see how it goes.

On the ridge.
On the ridge. Compare to the previous times: one, two. ;-/

Everything was still wet and muddy from the day of rain before. This was OK on level terrain but as soon as it got steeper the mud turned the trail into a slippery slope. At one point I even slipped and fell. No damage done, but a very clear sign that continuing along the long and exposed ridge in these conditions would not be advisable. So we took the next opportunity to hike down and close the loop back to the car. A bit disappointing that Susanne didn't get to enjoy the otherwise spectacular views. But it was still a nice hike in a very moody, subdued atmosphere. Only muffled sounds and the sensation of being the only humans around also have some appeal. And we'll get to do this again some time, because this outing surely didn't count, right Helmut?!

Some legends are stranger than others.

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