Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Monday, 11 January 2021

The Walker's Haute Route (4)

Friday 8 July - St Niklaus to Gruben

Another cloudy day. A feature of this trip is the cloud, followed by afternoon drizzle. That means waterproofs are in use every day, but we've had no storms, and intermittent views (glimpses) of high mountains through their shrouds of mist.

Today Betty and Dave travelled by train, bus and foot to Gruben, and the remaining four of us caught the 8:30 cablecar to the small village of Jungen. After Sue had gone shopping for lunch, we started off at 9 am up towards the Augstbordpass, an ascent from 1955 to 2894 metres, the biggest yet. Gaynor slowly recovered from her traumatic ride in the small 4 seater diy cablecar (no attendant at the top).

The path wound gently up through woods before reaching an open area and then skirting around a rock band at about 2500 metres. Around 2400 metres we saw a herd of very healthy looking ibex. Spent some time trying to photograph them. Chamois were also spotted - their short horns and slim build contrasting with the much bulkier pony sized ibex.

We met nine French people descending the well graded path, and wondered where they had started from for them to be coming down so early.

The traverse of the rocky outcrop was successfully completed, then we continued on to the site of my camp in this area in August 1984. It was a good spot for a tea break - 11:30 to 12:10.

Moss Campion

Spring Gentian

Glacier Crowfoot

Now a bit clearer, and 13°C. Soon we were on our way to meet a cold westerly breeze at the top of the pass - 2894 metres, our highest point of the holiday - 13:10 to 13:30.

Good views, so we lingered in the chilly wind. Decided not to go up Schwartzhorn as it was in cloud and above the snowline. It would have been a slippery ascent. 6°C here, and cooler on the west slope.

We dropped, in light snow, to 2790 metres for lunch (13:40 to 14:10) and our second brew of the day. Sue and I seem to be the only people really keen on these brews; the others just go along with it. Not all have cups/mugs.

I manage to keep the tin of smoked herring (ie two kippers) down, and spend the rest of the trip eating fairly normally but with recurring stomach cramps etc morning and evening.

It was a pleasant descent through woods to the Hotel Schwartzhorn, where Sue had booked one double room, plus me and Gaynor the dortoir. 

The rain thickened soon after our timely 4 pm arrival in drizzle. I went next door to the small shop to re-supply with two days' lunches, and met Betty and Dave at the end of their walk. They were soon booked into another double room in this spacious, but cold and ugly place. 

We had seen lots of Mountain Pansies today, but Edelweiss seems more prevalent around Zermatt. Good views of the route up Meidpass from today's descent, but the Forcletta route was not visible. 

The set meal of pork and rice - part of the half board deal - was uninspiring. And a game of Scrabble caused Sue real problems  with dubious words such as 'fo', 'yips' and 'pouri' - she freaked out like Betty on a suspension bridge and had to walk it off! 

More people had arrived and the dortoir was rather noisy in the night.


bowlandclimber said...

Bringing back memories of our trip, Chamonix to Zermatt. 1n 2000, the Europaweg wasn't established or at least we knew nothing of it. It looks a far more interesting way of approaching, or leaving, Zermatt than the valley route we took.
We climbed the Schwartzhorn on a beautiful clear day. With reference to your veiled comment "had to walk it off!" the couple I was with had a slight disagreement at the col about climbing said peak. She rushed off in a huff, steam coming out of her ears, up the ridge and none of us could keep up with her, it all ended amicably at the summit.
I think we found Gruben rather grim.
Continue the good work.

Phreerunner said...

Haha, the Europaweg certainly wasn't there when we backpacked with our tents - Chamonix to Zermatt - in 1984. Now there's a trip to revisit...

We generally got on ok on these trips, and those of us who survive are all still good friends despite the odd bumpy passage in the past.