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Thursday, 6 October 2005

Längfluhhütte

With a hearty dinner followed by channel surfing (watched CSI and some parts of Ocean's 11 in Italian, a German variety show, and 30 seconds of Van Damme in Hard to Kill in French) and a double bed all to my own (no longer was I constrained to the question mark position) I fell into deep sleep. I woke up to a crisp cold morning like a 12-year old at Christmas morning but when I opened my window I was a bit disappointed to see what looked like a fresh inch of snow. Nevertheless, today I had my mind set on crossing the Chessjeng Glacier to the Britannia hut (elevation 3030m) but the hotel manager said it was impossible because of the previous days' snow. This was supported by the counter guy at the equipment rental who said all the lifts (ie escape routes) have been shut down because of heavy snow in the peaks. This was the point when one is supposed to look to the high heavens and scream "Why!!!!!!!" (ala Bruce Almighty). But then again, never ignore the wise advice of the natives. They know the terrain and the weather better than a bloke from the tropics like me. So I left the crampons, ice axe, and ego at 1800m and looked at the map for alternative ways to amuse myself for the day while munching a breakfast of muesli and some kick-ass coffee at my host's hotel. By 9am it was still foggy and based on the map I decided I had a fair chance of safely going up the Längfluh (2870) making it into a day trip by stopping at Spielboden (2447m). I reckon it should be a good ascent since it allows a great view of the Fee glacier. Of course, one can take a cable lift to both huts but then again what's the point of having two functioning legs? Besides, even with snow, how bad can it be? After waiting for the early morning clouds to rise to 2500m I caught a glimpse of part of my intended route and at 9:30 decided it was time to burn those calories...........

Unlike this dog, I found no reason to smile early in the morning when I read the weather forecast....

9:30am and it was time to clear the tree line........nice autumn colors!

His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem and I were not going to let some bad weather prevent us from doing what we came here for - breathing the high altitude air. Plan B was executed

HRO Karl Willem and I reached the first stop Gletschergrotte at 10:30am. At this point I realized we were walking a bit too slow (okey, blame it on my out of shape gut....). There was no guardian at Gletschergrotte. After all, summer climbing season was over so after a quick break it was time to pick up the pace......

The route to Spielboden was covered in snow and HRO Karl Willem and I were the only ones there (except for some mountain sheep and marmots)

Passed ledges from which to get a good view of the Mischabel alps along the way. Sadly the cloud cover remained at 2600m

A peek of the glacial lake, a blue emerald against shimmering white

My first view of the Fee Glacier (my camera does not give it justice, those 5 metre crevasses have a mesmerizing blue tint...)

This is the big-ass wall of rock at the side of the Dom (4545m) across the Fee glacier. I was slowly climbing the last section to Spielbolden when I heard this loud thunder. It was a large section of snow crashing down on the rocks. It was then that I realized that I was on a 60-degree incline and thinking "Hmm, that can happen to me". My brain was very casual about it but my heart rate was not and I doubled my pace. Eventually I reached Spielboden earlier than I scheduled.....

By 12:40 HRO Karl Willem and I reached Spielboden. By this time the cable lifts were working so I knew I had an escape route (just in case). We were the first guests and the guardian was a bit surprised when I told him HRO Karl Willem and I hiked up here. Let me then nominate Spielboden as one of "Best Places To Have Real Coffee" and has been awarded the seal of "Recommended by His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem". (A view to die for, cheaper prices than that dump called Starbucks, and coffee served in the right amount). Nothing better than cafe noir to settle my nerves after that mini-avalanche encounter).

Despite less than ideal weather conditions, His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem easily conquers the steep and snow-covered slopes to Spielboden

I liked how this picture turned out. You could barely see the edge that leads to a 200m drop to the Fee glacier.......

A rather nice shot of how small this helicopter is compared to the crevasse-lined Fee glacier. The glacial valley also provides some nice acoustics making the rotor noise scarier than it actually is. The chopper was flying at nearly my eye level......

HRO Karl Willem fearlessly straddles the edge......... I love the isolation. Yes, I am selfish when I go hiking. I want nobody else but me and HRO Karl Willem...

By 2:45 pm I reached the Längfluhhütte shown here on the right. It looks really small compared to the Fee Glacier. I am happy to be alive.........Again, the Längfluhhütte gets an HRO Karl Willem recommendation for "Best Places To Have Real Coffee"....Just look at that view......

There is one cardinal rule when climbing non-switchback paths. Never look down. Only on my way down did I realize how steep some of the sections are. But if an unfit bloke like me can make it (of course I was motivated by HRO Karl Willem) even under bad weather, so can anyone. I slowly descended from the Längfluh at 3:30pm and had a really late lunch at Gletschergrotte at 5pm (I packed a salami and cheese sandwich), and lingered till sunset enjoying the alpine forest and crossing the glacial streeams.

I retreated to my room weary but happy despite having to change plans due to the weather. The truly wonderful owner of Fleehof asked me how my day was and she was pleased to know what I did. After a brief nap I woke up at 9pm and went to Yvonne's place to get Provencale grill served with chips....then back to my double bed to get more shut eye for another hike tomorrow.........

1 comment:

cordilove said...

Nash,

You have a very interesting blog! I wish I could do as much too for my blog...

Keep up the the goodworks!


Grace