Sunday, 12 October 2014

Stubai: Sunday 7th: Sulzenau: rest day

Previous: Stubai: Saturday 6th: Aperer Feuerstein in fog from Nurnberger; Nurnberger to Sulzenau

A quiet day. We ignore my alarm, which goes off at 7, and lie in until 7:45. Std.fruhstuck and watch the others heading off in their various busy directions. The weather isn't quite warm enough yet to sit on the terasse so we wander off towards the Grunausee, without really intending to get there. We sit at the viewpoint and play games with our shadows:
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and admire the view upvalley:
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(the path to the Dresdener is over a little col, the one just R of the center on the skyline) and the ziggy path up:

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We lie in the sun in the heather and read. We go on to where the path crosses the river and rest / read there; I'm reading "Dracula" on the Kindle. Lunch back at the hut: the terasse is crowded so we eat in: kasebrot, and (cheese, spinach) noodles with kraut. After its quieter and we sit on the terasse: decide that tomorrow we'll off to the Dresdener in the afternoon, and in the morning I'll look at the Lubecker Weg. The Guardienne agrees that the 3h to the Mullerhutte that the sign gives only makes sense if you're going via the now-deprecated and de-cabled col. She also asserts that the Lubecker Weg is "real climbing" and I quietly ignore that.

Later to the Blaue Lacke which is still and quiet. We walk slowly as befits old folk; sit and watch the lake which, whilst very blue, isn't very photogenic. Back through the weird field of weird cairns, to dinner.

Mr Leaf and Bark Man

Mr Leaf and Bark Man has been gracing our kitchen for many years, since Daniel brought him back from school. I can't even remember which year... lets say, when he was about 10. I like his jaunty stepping out style. He's survived fairly well, though a few bits have fallen off. But now its time for renewal so here is his memorial.
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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Stubai: Saturday 6th: Aperer Feuerstein in fog from Nurnberger; Nurnberger to Sulzenau

Next: Sunday 7th: Sulzenau: rest day.

After the Zuckerhutl I went back from the Muller to the Nurnberger, and decided to try the Aperer Feuerstein, which is explained in full detail on the Nurnberger's website. As it says, its an interesting alternative to the path from the Bremer to the Nurnberger which I'd wimped out of a few days ago because it was cloudy and snowy and not a good day for venturing off the beaten track. But I was quite keen to look at the Feuerstein, and decided to be good by going for the Aperer first. Which made it a short day, so there was no need to get up early - ahem, but see later; I left around 8:30 with some hopes of visibility.

Before I show you the pix in order, here's an out-of-order pic of the Feuerstein group taken from the Niederl (the pass from the Nurnberger to the Sulzenau) at about 6 pm:

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The skyline peaks are the Feuersteins: Westlich (3245 m, R) and Ostlich (3268 m, center). Its just about possible to see the summit cairn on the Aperer F in the full-size pix - its the greyish curvy ridge off towards the L just on the skyline; to its right is the distinctly redder pt 3038 not on the skyline, with the wide glacier to its R. The bottom of that pic - the snow patch in shadow at the R - is the top of the bowl visible in the top R of the pic below, which is taken from below as I walked up. Here's the GPS track for the circuit. I start off going down to the river as though to the Bremer, but then turn R up valley not L. I also have a slightly more informative picture from the afternoon return, when the cloud had cleared somewhat.

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I'd expected the path up to the Feuerstein to be hard to find, but no. It is but a thread, but its clearly there; later I realise this is because of people going up to the Feuerstein itself. There's a rather nice path up the rather nice moraine - I like moraines. At the top of the moraine the path goes into the bowl inside the peaks on the R, then curls East and follows another moraine crest up, with the Grublferner to your R. At that point I'm in the cloud, and things become unclear.

At around 2770 m I lost the track and veered too much R wards. When I realised I'd lost it I waited for a break in the cloud - no dice - then just faintly heard a noise which turned out to be the tapping of a ski-stick on rock - it carries well, and is distinctive even at the limit of hearing. Moving in that direction I just saw a bod descending as he moved out of range, and so re-found the path.

Somewhat later at 2900 m I'd gone too far East and would have ended up at pt 3038 m, except I met two bods who pointed out the error of my ways. In clear conditions I wouldn't have gone wrong, and if I had could just have cut across to the correct path; but in the cloud I descended (following them; I could have just retraced myself on the snow) and then found the correct path up. This wasn't helped by my now-20-year-old map having a very different shape to its glaciers; I really ought to get a new one. I leave my sack at the NurnbergerScharte - there's a cairn -, 2914 m, from where its a 15 minute scramble to the summit, 2968 m:
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Views are still, well, here's the view up from the pass towards pt 3038:

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But the views down exist. Here's looking towards the Simmingjochl, with the Zollhutte just distinguishable. What a difference a few days make: all the snow is gone. The lakes in the pic are shown as glacier on my map; but the glacier has retreated over the years.
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At this point it would be nice to rest and admire the views; but I got off late and I have miles to go before I sleep. But really this is a whole-day circuit, contrary to my blase assumptions of earlier. So, onwards. Pick a random path down the snow and to the pass. Descend. The Paradies is lovely but I've shown you that before; here's a nice still reflecty one in a little pool somewhat higher up:
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And so back to the Nurnberger. I set my GPS to recharge - it has about 7 hours in it - and sit out enjoying the sunshine, the Radler, and the Apfelstrudel. Then I have to pack my rucksac, and I reflect that bringing the Macpac as well as the Spire was a mistake: the correct solution would be to be a little more brutal in my packing - fewer clothes for cure, this becomes obvious as I accumulate a bag of stuff I'm using and another, lower, of stuff I just don't use - and then I can save myself another 2 kg by leaving the big sac behind. Farewell to the kindly Guardiennes.

I've agreed to meet M at the Sulzenau. At one point I'd offered to meet her at the Alm at 5; but that's not going to happen: set off at quarter to five, having offered her 19:30 at the Sulzenau by text. From here its a shortish - 50 min - slog up (GPS track) to the Niederl. Pause to admire the bench and the views back towards the Feuersteins - at last, see top. And indeed, over the far side. I get the quasi-classic view of the Wilder Freiger reflected in the lake above the Grunausee:

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And thence to the hut: 2:20 total for the crossing. Hello M.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Stubai: Friday 5nd September: Mullerhutte to Nurnberger

Yesterday: Wilder Pfaff and Zuckerhutl
Tomorrow:

Today dawns fair, which seems a shame as it would have been more useful yesterday.
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Looking closer, I can see the Z behind the WP, but it doesn't look like itself, so to speak. After a leisurely breakfast Anna and Tobias and I head up the WF side of the glacier, at their request; they aren't quite as blase as I am about crevasses, and who knows they may be correct (My pic shows us all roped up in the mist, I'd forgotten that). However, by the time we actually get up onto the snow - you can traverse straight from the back of the hut, don't descend first via the way I came up. The GPS trace would show this except I forgot to turn it on to start with - the cloud has come up again and we can't see a thing, so crevasse avoidance is a bit random. Here's a last view of the hutte before the cloud closes in:

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Up to the wetterstation, and then down the what-I-think-is-familiar path, but as usual whenever I think that there's a twist, and in this case the twist is that in the poor viz I've missed that whilst you can usually plunge down the nice snow instead of the nasty rocks, when you get to the last band before the "snow bowl" you need to make sure you don't descend too far. We do descend too far. Were I alone this would be no problem - I could just forsake the path, descend to the unnamed lovely lakes at ~2488 below the Urfallspitze, and follow the river down; a pleasant route. But A+T are going to the Sulzenauhutte and so need to get to the Seescharte, and I can't abandon them having lead them astray, so we slog back up, only about 50-100 m, well all right nearly 100 m says the GPS, cross the rock band and get back on track. And finally to the scharte where we parte:

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A little lower down I get a view across to the (as far as I know un-named) lakes, the un-named ridge behind it rising up to the Hohe Wand I think:
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On the way down I hear and see marmots, which is not unusual, but I also get close enough for a not-just-a-pixel photograph, which is unusual, so here it is:

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And then ein Grosses Radler at the hutte, and sit out reading The King in Yellow, which is weird (the initial story is definitely weird, but good. A later one does indeed turn out to be about the siege of Paris, as I guessed. And then the book segues into romance, which is odd. There is linking, in terms of style, and of characters, but the overall transition from horror to romance is unexpected). Ah, but I can now look it up, which I couldn't then. The Guardiennes remember me and smile, which is nice. As are the hot showers.

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Some Frenchmen beg my pardon and ask about the WF. They seem astonished when I suggest it may take them 6 hours. Was it OK? Yes, if you don't mind a bit of snow on the path and steep snow slopes higher up; if you take care not to get lost in the cloud, which is easy; if you're fit; and so on. Its almost impossible to give useful advice.

 Oh yes, and in the evening number one: food: six Nurnberger sausages on sauerkraut, with wine!
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and number two: music:
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That didn't happen every evening.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Stubai: Tuesday 2nd September: rest day

Yesterday: Lauterer See and Bremer to Nurnberger
Tomorrow: Wilder Freiger to the Muller Hutte

I'm the sole occupant of my eaves dorm - the weather doesn't make for a full house. I'm not awakened by shafts of sunlight puring in through the skylight, but this is no surprise. What to do with the day? My groaning body as well as the weather argues for a rest day. Apart from my thighs feeling strained, my left ankle bone rubbing against the boot is painful.

The reason for not having a rest day is: what will I do? Won't I be terribly bored? But I decide to turn that into a positive: having not really had a rest day for further back than I can remember, it will be good to see what happens.

Spend the morning reading Herodotus - Kindle is borked. Text M so she can google the reset. This was my lunch, nominally only an appetiser but I barely finished it:

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4 pm: coffee and cake.

5:  Walk down path a ways from the hut for some fresh air and to get the phone some network. Ankle still hurts. text from M: hold down the power switch for *20* seconds: aha, that works.

6: Dinner: salad from buffet and BergSteigerEssen (spag bol; OK-unexciting-but-filling, which is what BSE is supposed to be). GastStaube full. Quick shower,because they're free.

Lay out kit for tomorrow, with the idea of being able to get up, b'fast and off with least delay. Set alarm for 6. Plan is to take a small selection and go up to the Muller hutte or some such over the Wilder Freiger, and have a shot at the Zuckerhutl, which I've wanted to do for ages, and now is the perfect chance - I have plenty of time before needing to meet up with M. this assumes conditions are plausible, which seems doubtful, but we'll see.

I don't have any other pix from this day. So here's some bog-cotton-grass from near the hutte from later on:

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Stubai: Monday 1st September: Lauterer See and Bremer to Nurnberger

Yesterday: Habicht and Innsbrucker to Bremer
Tomorrow: rest day.

Overnight I'm in dorm #8 with some mixed US / UK types; its about a 5-person room. Sleep well. Awake about 7 to cries of "Its snowed!" Whilst I can admire their youthful enthusiasm I cannot share it; instead I quietly groan "Oh, great" to myself and sleep in for a bit. That, and the total cloud, precludes anything exciting for the day. I'd half-planned the xfer to the Nurnberger via the Aperer Feuerstein but I think that needs to be revised now (but see Saturday the 6th).

Last night I'd talked to some English-type folks who had done the "klettersteig" from the lake and they said it was easy. So I rather regretted not taking it, and wanted to go have a look so I'd know for the future; a perfect project for a cloudy morning. After a leisurely breakfast I toddled over; its 1 km and takes about half an hour or so each way. GPS track.

Here's a view from the lake back towards the hutte (notice how I'm inconsistent there? I use "hutte", but "lake" instead of "lac" or "see". Well, never mind):
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You see the path wending across the slope and heading towards what looks like a rather unpleasant rock band. But in fact its fine; that's where the "klettersteig" is, of course.

Also, since I'm being self-indulgent, here's towards the lake:
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As I'm sure you've noticed it was a fairly grey day. Here's my best shot at making the "difficult chimney" look as exciting as possible:

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Since it really was a fairly narrow chimney its quite hard to photograph; here is a view looking up, from the start. As you can see, there's piles of ironmongery and you can see that with even more snow, it might be hard to climb or descend.

In fact, that's not the only tricky bit, there's also the "difficult slab". As you see from the below, its not all that difficult, or rather it wouldn't be in good conditions. But in the wet its smooth and slippy, and with a bit more snow (and last year there was lots and lots more snow) you'd have trouble finding the cables. And about 5-10 m to the right is a sharp drop-off, as show in the very top pic.

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By 10:40 I'm back in the hutte, and I'm the only guest; everyone else has gone down (various people at breakfast had been talking about going over to the Nurnberger, which was what they actually wanted to do, but one by one they'd talked themselves out of it). The Guardienne looks rather dubious when I tell her I'm going across. I promise myself that I'll turn back if it looks iffy. But, not to build the tension too much, it all turns out to be fine. Before I leave, here's the Bremer in the snow:

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And for those interested in ecology-in-action-in-the-mountains, here's a pic of the water waste processing reed beds at the hutte. Last year, while we'd been there, we'd watched with great interest while workmen drilled and then dynamited out some rock near the hutte, in preparation for this. Clearly the reeds haven't had time to grow properly yet.

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The crossing to the Nurnberger is 6.4 km, took me 3:55, 500 m up and 600 m down, and I start just before 12. 2 hours to the Joch at 2754. GPS track. Going up to the pass I met a man coming down, and felt faintly disappointed not to be pioneering on the day. But having a fair guarantee that it was passable, and tracks in the snow, was helpful. On the other side I met a few others. Here's me at the Zollhutte at the pass:

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Climbing up to the Joch was hot work, so I'm sitting around up there until I got chilly again. After that its down the rocks and the short-cut snow slope quite rapidly to the "Paradise" (view down from the col; view back up towards the col. Perhaps slightly more usefully, view from Nurnberger taken on the 3rd when the cloud was clear; you can just see the Zollhutte on the ridge line). The Paradies is lovely even in the snow, the sinuous line of the river is alluring:

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Snow effects on the plants were fun:

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But it was nice to get to the Nurnberger:

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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Stubai: Habicht and Innsbrucker to Bremer: Sunday 31st August

Yesterday: Arrival: Saturday 30th August
Tomorrow: Lauterer See and Bremer to Nurnberger

I covered the Habicht on the real blog, so I won't re-do that here. Having returned to the Innsbrucker I was moderately tired:
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Although that photo is just a touch posed: its how I felt, certainly, but I'm actually awake enough to be holding the camera and pressing the button and carefully arranging the picture. Here are the diary entries:

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and
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There aren't any pics of the hut xfer, because it was like this:
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Perhaps not the entire way, but for quite a lot of it. By 13:30 I'd had a kleines bier, followed by a hauswurst and a kaffee, the rain had eased to "gentle", and I'd decided that I'd go for it. The book time is 6-7 hours, obviously I could do better than that, and I hadn't really got it into my head yet that its September not July, the sun does set by 8 and its pretty well dark by 8:30. It had happened yesterday, of course, but somehow I pushed that away.

Anyway: no, I couldn't do it in less than book time. In the end, what with wandering lost in the dark, being tired from the morning's Habicht, and carrying a heavier-than-I-really-ought-to-have sac, it took me 7:20. Sometimes it didn't rain. Here's the GPS track for the bit before it ran out of battery. The GPS track runs out at "the signpost" where you get a choice of the "normal" path to the hut (which descends about 200 m, crosses the river, and then climbs again; see the start of the GPS trace from 2013 for details) and the "klettersteig" route (which traverses to the Lautersee, then traverses to the hutte, but after the See there's a "klettersteig" section. Now I hadn't given much thought to this - Miriam and I, coming the other way, hadn't done the klettersteig last year because it was too snowy, so I didn't know what it was like - but at 19;45 in the gathering dark I decided to be "good", heed the warnings - "nur fur " - and choose the "safe-n-sure-if-longer" normal route.

This was a mistake, for two reasons: firstly and known only in retrospect, the klettersteig is easy. Secondly and really-I-ought-to-have-remembered-in-advance the "normal" route isn't easy - its not ata ll like the valley path up to the Innsbrucker, it wends its way up through a rock band and is quite hard to find - even with frequent paint-markings - in the dark, by the light of a head torch, with rain spattering my glasses.

At the river I lost the path for a bit - this is easy to do, because you have to rock-hop over a wideish river. In the daylight, this would have been no problem. After casting around for 10 mins and refinding the path I found myself threading up through steepening slopes, sometimes rungs let into the rock (at least I knew I was on track) and seriously wondering if I would have to bivvy for the night. Which wouldn't have been fun as by next morning, there was snow. Happily, fear gave me strength and the bit I was somewhat dreading - regaining the 200 m I'd lost in descent to the river - was no problem at all. In the end, I saw the distant lights of the hutte outlining the cargo-lift pylons and stumbled in over their newly planted reed beds and was safe and comfy and warm and dry.

Oh, and I don't seem to have said much about the scenic quality of the path. It wasn't really a great day for scenic quality, as I said, and I spent time either hurrying on or feeling tired. The end result - after a few days when my mind had settled down - was a feeling of great triumph.