Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gross Ruchen (3138 m) from Unterschächen

Another awesome trip with the Zürcher Studenten Skitourenclub. This time to the apparently infamous Gross Ruchen - this is a long tour, over 2100 m of elevation gain. Half of it takes place in a roughly 1000 vertical meter gully/couloir that reaches almost 40 degrees at the top but is somewhere between 20-30 most of the way. Snow was hardpack and made skinning on steep slopes challenging. I love my Dynafit ski crampons... I was feeling fine and jolly until just after lunch at 2600m - the last 500 m I felt really really slow and decidedly unwell. Don't know what happened, but maybe the altitude and the elevation gain had caught up to me. In any case, we all made it to the top in spectacular weather with almost no wind. Amazing. The ski down was challenging - my light and soft skis were difficult to handle on the hardpack, but the descent was fun - all 2000 meters of it. This was my first 3000-meter peak reached on foot - very exciting. Thanks to Ralf and Martin for organizing and everyone for great company! (map link)
Our objective in the distance - so far away...
The massif eventually gives way to a weakness - the Ruch Chälen couloir/gully
Halfway up Ruch Chälen
Eventually the angle got steep enough that we had to switch to crampons... 
toward the top of Ruch Chälen
Pretty crappy place for a lunch...

Lunch panorama

Approaching the summit block
Fun exposure
Smiling or in pain?? Personally, I was starting to feel it here... 
On the summit
Narrow ridge off the summit

Downclimbing - the gully in the shadow on the left is Ruch Chälen, i.e. our ascent/descent route