Thursday, July 25, 2013

Schwarzhorn Klettersteig

Today we had a great, lazy start to the day, eating breakfast at the restaurant at the train station. This was included in our hostel fee, but we couldn't eat at the hostel due to the huge cycling group and had rented the entire hostel (only luck allowed us to even stay there). In our 6-person dorm room we had Steve, an alpine guide from Austria. He was a really nice guy and we talked about climbing in the Dolomites, where he was born and grew up, at breakfast.

Then Homie and I took the bus to the east, high end of Grindelwald and rode the Gondola 3500 vertical feet to First (pronounced "Fierce-t"). We then hiked down (!) before we could head up towards the Schwarzhorn. The route was marked with painting on the rocks, like on the route to the Ostegg hut. They seem to use these paint markings instead of cairns.

We passed a family of four just as the via ferrata started and an older couple of two (everyone does this stuff here) at the top of the first ladders (!?). Yes, ladders. This via ferrata, or klettersteig, as they call it here, is super easy with these ladders on the steepest parts. But via ferratas are not about difficulty, in my mind anyway, that's what climbing is for. Via ferratas are about getting into wild positions and here this did not disappoint.

We met a guy from Boston on the summit while we took a break to eat something. On the way down we made a big loop by heading over to Grosse Scheidegg - the saddle that is east of Grindelwald (Kleine Scheidegg is west of Grindelwald and high on the lower slopes of the Eiger). The mountain that dominates Grosse Scheidegg is the Wetterhorn and the north wall of the sub-peak called Scheidegg Wetterhorn. This is a huge wall and the West Pillar is considered one of the greatest alpine rock routes in all of Switzerland. That route is probably within my abilities, but would be a two-day climb and not for this trip.
3000-foot north wall of Scheidegg Wetterhorn
We hiked down an additional 2000 feet, skipping the $20 bus ride down, and hopped on the town shuttle bus (we get to ride this for free by staying at the hostel) at the Hotel Wetterhorn. We did some grocery shopping in town and microwaved our dinner that night.

No comments: