Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eiger Klettersteig

Today Homie and I took a "rest day", but hiking 16 miles and doing 6000 vertical feet. We left from the hostel and hiked all the way up to the Eiger Klettersteig, which goes up the north face of the Eiger! It does... just the far, far, far right side, where the face isn't very high, probably about 400-500 feet. This was another really easy klettersteig with ladders in place wherever the climbing was steep. To get there we had to hike up 5000 feet all along the breadth of the north face. Right where we cut off this trail to head to the klettersteig, there is this sign that shows you all the parts of the 1938 route up the face:

Once atop the klettersteig, we immediately intersected the trail descending the West Flank of the Eiger. Looking up the West Flank, I scanned for an easy route. At this point I was only 1300 meters from the summit...

We continued up to the summit of the Rotstock, which is just a bunch on ridge dividing the north face and the west flank.

We hiked down to Kleine Scheidigg and balked at the ridiculous price (28 SF) for the train down to Grindelwald, so we hiked down, stopping halfway down to balk at the ridiculous price for the cable car down from Holenstein (16 SF).

Watching the beautiful red trains going into and coming out of the Eiger, I was amazed at how they are so quiet and smooth. The trains are electric, of course, as it seems are all Swiss trains. That got me thinking about where the Swiss get their electricity. I wondered if they got a lot of it via hydro, given all the water we've seen stream down off these huge, high mountains, and it turns out they do. About 60% of their electric power is generated via hydro. Nearly all the rest, 37%, is generated via nuclear plants. Only 1.3% of their electric power is generated with fossil fuels. They are a very "green" country, yet with no wind or solar. They are also a small country, with less people (8 million) than are in New York City, and are very blessed with beneficial geography.

These same mountains have prompted them to become master tunnelers. You'd think they were an entire nation of dwarfs, digging under the mountains for gold, like Gimli. Apparently their prowess in stonework has not been extended to wood work:

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