Monday, October 13, 2014

blog is moving to bigger and better things...

I've decided to experiment with another blogging platform.... so from now on the posts can be found on


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Furggeltihorn (3043m) - Läntahütte - Furggelti

Tobias and I chased the weather window for a two-day trip all the way to the border between Graubünden and Ticino, to the picturesque Läntatal. The end of the valley is marked by the tallest peak of Ticino, Rheinwaldhorn. The rolling Läntagletscher provides the source of the Valser Rhein, one of the tributaries of the Vorderrhein, which eventually becomes the river Rhine, which does important things like demarcates the borders of France, Switzerland and Germany, and winds its way into the North Sea.

We skied in to Läntahütte (a great little hut with very friendly hut keepers) over a somewhat mediocre Furggeltihorn and hatched an awesome plan for the next day -- ski up to Rheinwaldhorn, over to Grauhorn, and ski the west-facing slopes into Ticino. Apparently, this descent can only be done during winters with a lot of snow in the south, which has certainly been the case this year. We set out well before sunrise toward the Läntagletscher to be ready to ski off Grauhorn at noon. After gaining the glacier proper the conditions quickly deteriorated and all of a sudden we were in a complete whiteout. We weren't expecting much crevasse hazard but since we couldn't see hardly at all, we roped up and continued upwards. Several times the visibility would improve enough to lift the morale, but eventually we realized that it's probably never going to clear. Going over Rheinwaldhorn and into unknown terrain on the other side was not an option in those conditions so we descended back to the hut, had some coffee, hung out with the dog, stared mournfully at the fog-wrapped glaciers and headed back up the way we came in the previous day. Turned out we made the right call, as the conditions didn't really improve for the rest of the day, it even rained down in Vals. Still, we were glad to have checked out a new area and will leave this itinerary for a future outing...

coming up out of the valley to the impressive view of the Zervrailahorn

spring-time snow craters

on the summit of Furggeltihorn looking out toward Güferhorn and Grauhorn in the background

Steep drop-off from the summit

starting the descent off the summit toward Läntatal

our objectives for the second day in sight -- Rheinwaldhorn on the left and Grauhorn on the right

mountains are big, people are small. good thing to keep in mind. 

final steep slope down to Läntahütte (you can see it if you look very closely... second largest boulder in the photo)

slightly before the whiteout got really bad

heading back up out of Läntatal

some eXtreme skinning was required

skiing down toward the artificial Zervreilasee

end of the road

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tourists in Grindelwald

Recently I got to experience what the future holds: taking lifts to playgrounds, drinking beer in the sun, staring longingly at big walls and big glaciers. Pretty fun actually.

pretty good place for a beer I'd say

Rivella vs. gnarliness

I heard "Eiger" means "mountain with train through it"

Molly loves the alcohol-free beer!


more tourists

hurrah for scenic benches

Annibirthday 2014

Much like we do every year, we celebrated annibirthdays (anniversary + birthdays) with good food some traveling and friends. Also this year, babies in bellies. You've been warned.

On my birthday we bbqed a bit until it got too cold...
mmm delicious lamb kebabs in March!

that is a baby belly!


yep, there I am!

The next day (for Molly's birthday) we went hiking near Amden above the Walensee

Molly cruising up the steep path

it's important to zoom in on the baby belly even at the risk of cutting off Molly's head

awesome views despite the strange fog and a very scenic trail!

Meggie and Keith

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Böshorn (3269m) - Fletschhornhütte - Sengchuppa (3607m)

I met Yves two years ago during the Davos conference, where we did a couple of tours together. Over the past two seasons, we've been trying to come up with a weekend when we were both free for a tour somewhere in Wallis since Yves is from those parts. Last year we were foiled by weather, but this year the plan worked out and we had a great two-day tour near Simplon pass.

We headed to the Fletschhornhütte, an awesome little hut positioned at just over 3000m on a dramatic ridge line looking out toward some of the the eastern Wallis 4000ers. It's an unmanned hut, meaning you have to bring your own food but everything else including blankets, a wood-burning stove, and cooking utensils, is there. A really awesome place: simple, clean, and away from the crowds. We were the only two people there.

On the first day, we approached from the Simplon pass road and headed over Böshorn, a classic peak of the area since it's relatively high (3269m) and apart from the airy summit scramble fairly easily accessible. The way up to the peak was a complete zoo, since part of the approach is shared with other popular peaks that are favorites with large groups on the weekends. We were happy to disappear over onto the other side into complete silence and isolation.

We miscalculated the elevation gain needed on the first day a bit and ended up doing slightly over 2000m of climbing -- which would have been fine except that we had to chop wood, melt water etc. as soon as we arrived, preferably before it got dark. Instant noodles never tasted better.

Next day we awoke to a glorious morning and headed over the Gamsagletcher towards Sengchuppa, which definitely takes the crown for the most amazing peak name of all time. We reached the top in 2 hours and descended back toward Sirvoltesattel over the glaciers. There were pockets of really amazing snow, which in parts had strangely not even been touched by wind. At the end of the glacier, we skinned back up and over Sirvoltesattel and descended back to the Simplon pass road. A really great weekend in a nice corner of the alps, which serves up with some spectacular solitude. Fletschhornhütte is highly recommeded!

Crowds rolling over toward Sirvoltesee above Simplonpass road

wind-sculpted snow on the lower slopes of Böshorn

Yves on the approach to Böshorn

Finally in view of the summit... erm sort of. We spent the next hour or so in a whiteout. 

Since I expected the scramble to require full attention, I left my camera in the pack where we left our skis... big mistake, as the views from the summit were amazing and the scramble really fun. I kept my phone in my pocket though, so the next few shots are taken with that.

Once on the summit, the clouds would magically part every few minutes and give us an amazing view of our surroundings -- here, Fletschhorn in the background and Sengchuppa (our sunday objective) in the foreground)
looking north toward Berner Oberland

summit selfie
downclimb selfie

Yves navigating the ridge on the descent

Once away from the summit ridge, we were also out of the fog -- Yves searching for our exit

starting the descent toward the foot of the Gamsagletscher

Our tracks and the summit in the middle right

Checking the map on the glacier

Popping over the ridge toward the hut served up an amazing panorama

the little hut is on the ridge in the lower right

Weisshorn on the left and Brunneghorn in front on the right -- I climbed it two years ago

traversing toward the hut

first things first -- chopping wood

cozy inside
cooking snow
sunrise and the latrine

Sunrise on Dom, Lenzspitze, and Nadelhorn

Looking north toward the Aletschgletscher

leaving the hut

approaching Sengchuppa

on the summit!

Yves descending 

Skiing down the glacier

crazy wind pattern -- the smooth part was completely untouched by wind

Looking at Böshorn from Sirvoltesattel before our final descent