Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jenatschhütte, Piz Surgonda (3196m), Piz Calderas (3397m), Tschima da Flix (3316m)

Spent a nice weekend in the mountains with fellow ZSS members the weekend just after I turned a whopping 32 years old. Timo, Nicole, Saskia, Markus and I headed up to Chamanna Jenatsch apparently the highest  hut in the canton of Graubünden. We reached the hut starting from the Julierpass road and over Piz Surgonda in surreal weather and lighting conditions. The snow left a lot to be desired but it was nice to be surrounded by some large peaks -- I had been wanting to come to the Jenatsch hut for some time since Molly and I did a bike tour a few years ago over Suvrettapass that came out a bit further down in the Val Bever. The hut is highly recommended -- the hut keepers are incredibly friendly people, their food is amazing, and if you're into it they even have a sauna (to me it seems crazy to fly wood up by helicopter for a sauna, but who am I to say what is sane). They have a nice little booklet about Jürg Jenatsch who was apparently quite a guy and freed the canton of Graubünden from foreign control. It involves stories of high intrigue from the 17th century... Markus studied it diligently and delivered a history mini-lecture to the rest of us over dinner...

The second day was pure kitsch -- cloudless skies, perfect temperatures, though the snow had a bit of a sneaky crust that made for less than pleasant skiing here and there. We made it to two summits (Piz Calderas and Tschima da Flix) and enjoyed ridiculous views all day. Unfortunately, the weather moved in shortly after we arrived at the hut and we could hear the howling winds all night -- the final day was a bit miserable with terrible visibility, low temperatures, and a sketchy avalanche situation due to the wind-transported snow.... but we all made it across Fuorcla Laviner out to Tinizong unscathed.

heading up Val d'Agnel from the Julierpass road

Nicole and Saskia approaching Piz Surgonda summit

Markus and Timo on Piz Surgonda (3196m)

Nicole skiing off Piz Surgonda ridge

Timo looking across at Piz Picuogl

skiers approaching Chamanna Jenatsch from the direction of Piz d'Agnel

perfect morning in the mountains...

Markus and Timo heading up toward Vadret Calderas; Jenatsch hut in the background

Skiers on Vadret Calderas

Saskia and Timo approaching the summit pyramid on Piz Calderas

final climb to the summit of Piz Calderas

hand shakes all around on Piz Calderas (3397m)

Looking northwest off the summit of Piz Calderas

climbers on the summit of Piz Calderas with the Bernina group in the background

Timo, Saskia, Nicole and Markus on the summit

Nicole skiing off Piz Calderas with our next objective, Tschima da Flix in the background

final approach to Tschima da Flix (3316m)

Piz Calderas from Tschima da Flix -- you can see the approach/descent tracks including some crazy cliff schenanigans

Timo skiing down Vadret Calderas below Tschima da Flix

poor visibility and strong winds...

nice traverse... but don't slip

Timo and Nicole below the face that we skied -- Fuorcla (pass) Laviner  at the top. We came down somewhere in the middle... 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Brisen 2404m

Tobias and I went up to Brisen, a moderately famous mountain in central Switzerland. The nice and steep NW face is sheltered by the Haldigrat ridge so it preserves powder pretty well... We had lots of sun, some great powder, some crust, and some amazingly terrible snow in fog down low, but we skied all the way to the parking lot!

Kloster at Niederrickenbach

skiers on the traverse below Steinalper Jochli

Tobias getting ready to scramble to the summit

summit ridge

climbers approaching the summit

summit cross -- and the tasty slopes below

starting down the NW face looking down toward Haldigrat

powder all the way down the face...

coming out of the shadows

NW face of Brisen from Haldigrat -- our lines are on the far right (I suppose we skied off the Haldigrat in fact...)

skiing north off Gigichrüx