Denmark 2023

Most people seek out warm beaches for their summer vacation. We are inclined to go the other direction and escape the heat rather than seek it. This year we went to Denmark in July. Ecological considerations meant we intended to avoid flying and booked a night train from Zürich to Hamburg half a year in advance. A week before departure the railway company informed us that the sleeping coach we booked would not actually be on the train. WTF? Faced with a twelve hour train ride through the night with kids in a regular coach we ended up booking a flight after all. So stupid. Talk about making it hard for people to do the right thing. First, the railways of the two countries we meant to travel don't actually offer night trains (neither Switzerland nor Germany have any), so you book with the Austrian railway. Then the offer is so popular that you need to book on the very day they enable it, half a year in advance. And finally they don't actually deliver. Anyway. We made it to Hamburg by plane and got a rental car for the last leg of the journey to our rented vacation house Juelsminde in Denmark.

For us this location had another benefit besides the cooler climate: we could have friends from both Hamburg and Stockholm visit us. Having an entire country between us means we get to see each other far too rarely and this offered a great opportunity to spend a few days together. First, Linus, Gintare, Upe and Elve visited from Sweden. Then Thomas and Stine drove up from Hamburg. Of course we had to go see Legoland with both of them. So our poor kids had to endure that experience twice ;-P

Very hygge two weeks!

Lukas first flight and Leonie's third.
First glimpse of the sea.
Juelsminde adventure playground.
Linus, Gintare and kids show up from Stockholm.
Soccer match.
Bedtime episode.
Legoland Billund. Massively overcrowded on this visit.
Leonie underwater.
About to be eaten by a spider.
Great live show. Leonie is into horses at the moment and real life jousting left her open mouthed.
Fishing for crabs.
You needed to catch a few so that you could make them race one another.
Harbor food.
Adventurous slide!
Legoland again. This time less crowded and with our friends Thomas and Stine from Hamburg.
Stine and Thomas.
Leonie and Lukas.
Horsens prison museum. Luckily we didn't have to stay ;-P
Exploring the old harbor area.
Yoga time.
Thomas brought some board games and Leonie was all over them. We had to play multiple sessions a day, whether we wanted to or not.
The weather wasn't always great...
...but we still went exploring.
Jelling viking museum and village.
Game of Kubb in our yard.
I placed a sun umbrella on the grass for a single day. Enough time for the ants to build an entire mound under it.
Givskud safari zoo. One of the best we've been to.
Tall (!) climbing structures on the playground.
Apparently this kind of ice cream sugar overkill is a tradition in Denmark?
The zoo had the largest and best dinosaur exhibit I've seen.
The kids loved it.
Driving right up to lions was also an unusual experience.
Horsens museum of industry. A lot of hands on experiments for the kids. And as an engineering geek I was pleasently surprised that they actually fired up all of their steam engines! An amazing and amazingly noisy exhibit. Loved it.
One just has to appreciate the steam punk aesthetic.
Anita and the kids.
Some hygge time.
This image has special significance. If you squint, you can see that I accidentally captured the exact moment the wind blew Leonie's baseball cap into the water. By the time I had undressed and reached the end of the pier I had to swim quite a distance to retrieve it. Cold! With a long hike back home.
Hamburg Miniatur Wunderland.
This thing is amazing. The hobby of two random dudes turned into a major attraction for Germany's second biggest city. Not quite the Eiffel tower, but also not too far off.
The attention to detail and craftmanship that went into this thing is mind blowing.


Gumenplatte (2020m), via "Jermy & Melinda", 200m, 5c+

We've spent the past weekend as a family escaping the brutal heat to beautiful lake Klöntal. Swimming and camping directly on the shore. The lake has historically been used for mining ice (!) to provide ice to rich Zürich in summer. This was big business, at times involving up to 300 horses. Of course the reason this worked so well is that the lake is sheltered by a massive 2000m North face and spends a large portion of the day in the shade. On top of that, it is surrounded by caves which allow cool storage of blocks of ice till deep into the summer months. Of course a North face like that is also appealing to me as a climber. This particular one is a serious undertaking with all the alpine challenges one may imagine: no fixed protection, difficult route finding, risky approach, no opportunity to bail, loose rock, loooong. Too much to take on in my current shape without further preparation. But I figured I could at least scout out the area und get to know the local rock a bit better. So I recruited Mark for the next weekend to climb the Gumenplatte, a 200m face opposite the majestic North wall.

Looking back at lake Klöntal. Even this official trail is steep and barely visible.
It doesn't look like much from this angle, but it was frequently chest high.

The climb is rarely visited and scarcely mentioned anywhere. Despite the face looking very nice at a distance, prompting memories of the similar looking Brüggler limestone, it would turn out to be quite different in character. It started with the approach. There's a proper trail up to a scattering of alpine huts. But then it continues pathless and requires some serious bushwhacking to even make it to the rock. This cost a lot of effort and got us soaking wet in the underbrush. The entire day felt like a steam sauna. It was overcast, so we didn't get the scorching sun of previous days, but the temperatures were still high and it must have been 100% humidity. We were running with sweat and water. To escape the vegetation I switched to following the dry rocky bed of a creek. This meant some scrambling and even short climbing sections, but overall it still seemed like the better trade-off to us.

Following the dry creek bed to avoid wet and slippery and annoying vegetation.
Crumbling slabs.

We found the start of the climb straight away, without any detours or getting lost. This is a small miracle, considering Mark and I always get lost. And indeed, we would make up for it later on the way down when we'd miss a turn and walk a few kilometers extra ;-P The rock turned out to be crumbling and rotten from the very start. It took me a few false starts before I got used to the idea of trusting it and led the first pitch. It's a very dynamic route in the sense that by climbing it, you are changing it. Lots of hand and footholds would just crumble away. The anchors are bolted well, but pitches frequently feature only three to four bolts. This means you want to place some mobile protection as back-up. Not easy to find trustworthy placements in rock like this.

Into the cloud he went.
Mark topping out.

The crux section for us was a short traverse on a smooth slab of rock. Mark tried it for a while and then cheated by pulling on a quickdraw. Being the follower on top-rope, I felt more daring and attempted a dynamic move, reaching my destination hold with a bit of momentum. Too much momentum for this rock. It simply broke off completely and I took a fall with the piece of rock still in my grip. No damage done (except to the wall). Not sure if the character of that move used to be different when the route was first climbed, but it seemed very tricky to climb this cleanly in its current state.

Smashed canteen with no content.
Family photo.

Befitting for the character of the route, the canteen that was meant to hold the route book, was smashed open and deformed by rockfall and the route book was nowhere to be seen. Disappointing really, as this is one of the few routes where I would have been very curious about how many people climbed it and who the most recent party before us would had been. Ah well.

Mark admiring the views into the Linth valley.
...and wild animals.

We topped out on a beautiful flowery meadow and enjoyed a lunch break with dramatic views through the drifting low hanging clouds. Then we went for the long knee breaking descent. In the end, it turned out to be more of a hiking than a climbing day, but that's also nice ;-) Due to the clouds I got to do less peeking at the North wall than I hoped for. But either way, it was obvious that I need way more endurance and practice in foul rock before even trying to set out on such a big mission. Another day!

Beautiful trail through the forest.
The Löntsch. With some deeply cut canyons and nice views.
We had the entire wall to ourselves. It's probably not a good idea to climb this with multiple parties...
A long roundtrip. First go straight up, then take an enormous detour on the way down ;-) Lukily that only added distance, not elevation gain, so in the end it might have been an accidental, but still preferable, choice.