Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Thursday 10 September 2009 - The Gasterntal and Kanderfirn

Another sunny day in the Alps - perhaps our last as the weather is on the move, but we've had a good run and Sue's muscle problem has certainly eased a little, enabling a longer walk today (Sue's choice).

We took the 9.50 am minibus up to Selden, a hamlet at the head of the long Gasterntal valley. The 25 minute ride (we needed to book ahead to get seats) saves a good couple of hours, so is well worthwhile.

We were last away of the disgorged passengers due to my faffing and sun tan creaming, but soon drew ahead of any others as we commenced our 900 metre ascent to the tongue of the Kanderfirn glacier.

The route started gently through meadows where harebells, cranesbills, clovers, campions and crocuses are hanging on until the autumn snows finally dampen their growth hormones. Dwarf pines and juniper abound in the valley, and marmots whistled as we ascended over increasingly rocky terrain to a moraine wall. 'Elevenses' taken here granted us a bird's eye view of an avalanche across the valley down the cliffs of the Doldenhorn.

The cliffs we were heading for seemed very close, and the Gasterntal looked far below, but we still had 500 metres to climb! A well graded path got us there for lunch time, only a little more than two hours after setting out. We were going well in the slightly cooler conditions.

It was a surprise to find a visitors book up at 2400 metres where the red and white path turned blue and white, indicating that glacier skills are advised from this point. We wrote an entry and settled down for lunch in this magnificent spot, perched above the tongue of the huge Kanderfirn glacier.

Sue posed for today's postcard, and we both regretted not having the skills or equipment to safely carry on to the Mutthorn Hut (2901 metres), high up on the edge of the glacier.

Three others appeared from the valley, and three more from the glacier, but we encountered really very few people today.

There's fresh snow above 3000 metres on the nearby mountains. It must have fallen a week ago when it last rained in Kandersteg, and despite the subsequent hot weather this snow has clung on, especially to north facing slopes. First signs of the 2010 winter, I suppose.

The long and fine descent to Kandersteg, some 1200 metres below, took a good four hours, during which time the sky filled with cloud and a cool breeze kept me comfy in the cotton t-shirt that I discovered this morning was the last of my clean clothes. We've been so busy doing the Belgians' laundry that we forgot our own!

We were down in plenty of time to replenish our provisions from the Co-op and enjoy another fine home cooked meal.

All in all, another most pleasurable day out.

Next day

1 comment:

Paul said...

So that's what it means! I thought they'd just run out of red paint!

IIRC, this section of the route was distinctly harder than the rest (no glacier though).