Ruchbüel (2106m) to Saxerlücke

Finally a mostly dry weather forecast. But I found myself without a climbing partner. Why do people have jobs? What a nuisance! So I decided to go on a bit of a recovery and reconnaissance hike to the Alpstein. Parked the car at the village of Wildhaus and proceeded at a quick pace up the Flüretobel gorge. I was feeling strong and kept going straight up after exiting the gorge. After only a few minutes it occured to me that I was heading up the wrong mountain and towards passes that my prior research indicated would be too high still be covered in snow. Me being me, I continued regardless, hoping against hope that I might find a way to cross even in snow.

The Flüretobel Gorge.
Water straight from the rock?
Nice, but wrong, trail. Notice the artificial wall supporting it on the left. What an effort! That's almost a dam.

I passed a whole bunch of farmers preparing the alp for their sheep. Setting fences and collecting rocks from the meadows. Hard work, but it also looked satisfying. Not soon after it became very obvious that indeed, the higher trails were still inaccessible. Covered in deep snow and hidden in low hanging clouds. Not only would it be risky to try and proceeed, but it would also slow me down too much. So I paid for my stubbornness by turning around way too late and climbing an additional unnecessary 500 meters of elevation.

Optimistic footsteps.
These views eventually made me turn arouns. This is at roughly 2000m altitude and the trails I'd have to reach were a full 300 meters higher still. And hugging steep cliffs.
Switzerland. A farmer offering drinks to anyone passing by. Pay by feeding the piggy bank.

I retraced my steps back to the Teselalp and this time hiked up the correct trail. By the time I reached the Zwingli-Pass hut I had already climbed 1500 meters of elevation and descended 500. Yet despite my little detour I still made the par time signposted for reaching the hut from the valley ;-P The hut itself was supposedly already open but seemed completely deserted. Only few footsteps in the snow indicated that people had indeed visited it before. This season everything feels delayed by a month or so. We have had uncharacteristically bad weather and there's still a ton of snow in the mountains.

The Gierenspitz pyramid. I've climbed that one.
Altmann in the back. The snow needs to clear out some more, but there are some nice cliffs on it!
Kreuzberge. I wonder what my guidebooks have to say about them ;-P

It had been chilly and windy even in the village. Up on the mountain my t-shirt and windbreaker jacket were barely sufficient to preserve my body heat. Thus I stayed active and quickly continued on to the ridge, hiking towards the famous Saxerlücke. No other human around. But lots of marmots, chamois and some plump birds.

The ridge turned out to be a great observation post for all the beautiful limestone walls of the Alpstein range. So much to climb! I earmarked lots of mountains to look up in the guidebooks back home. Only once I reached the Saxerlücke did I stop for a rest and some food for the first time that day. I figured after almost 6 hours of non-stop hiking I had earned it ;-P

The trail was quite steep in places! Descending over rocks like here was actually pretty comfortable. The steep mud was much worse.
One of the shit producers.

Descending from the mountain turned out to be long and a bit annoying. The first few hundred meters of trail crossed active sheep pastures and I had to wade through a slippery mixture of mud and sheep shit. Even after the pastures, the mud stayed with me and the trails required careful walking. The first village I reached was sufficiently tiny that it only gets a bus every hour. Not willing to wait I hiked along the road for a few kilometers until the next larger town. I arrived on the exact minute as a bus back to my car in Wildhaus. Made it back home in time to read the kids' bedtime story. Great day out that provided a lot of inspiration for future endeavors.

Wrong country? A sign on a shed next to the ruins of an old castle I passed.

26km, 1700m, 8h

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