Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 27 March 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 4 - A Circuit from Hanauer Hutte

Tuesday 15 July 1980 - diarist: Colin - Hanauer Hutte circuit 

As the rain patters on the 'Force Ten' flysheet, five exhausted hikers sit and steam. The beef Madras has been swiftly consumed and we wait for the teewasser to boil. So what is the cause of this exhaustion? 

Well, today started with Martin streaking between the tents to transport the breakfast. The rain eased and we set off on our predetermined route at 8:15. The first hour was enlivened by sightings of a marmot and a chamois.

We climbed to Gufelseesjoch, and seeing the inviting summit of Kogelsee Sp. 1000 feet above, we popped up to bag our second Alp.

Dave on the summit of Kogelsee Spitze

We continued our circular route via the Gufelhutte, and Gufelgrasjoch, to the Steinseehutte. This could not be described as a ridge walk, in fact we went up and down more times than Joan Collins' zip.

Nick, looking back at the range

Rock formations from Route 621

Ruaridh, on Route 621
Approaching a massive cornice at Gufelgras-Joch

At Route 601/626 junction

The view NW from Steinseehutte

On our return from the Steinseehutte we attempted to ascend the Dremel Sp. After about 400 feet there was a minority of one in favour of continuing, so I came back with the rest.

Route 601 towards Hanauer Hutte

On Dremel-Spitze, and (below), as far as we got

All in all a tiring but very satisfying day - if the weather would improve the views would be superb... 

... Meanwhile, up at the Hutte, despite all attempts to encourage me to do otherwise, this will definitely be a short concise entry.... Still, other memories / events of the day... 

  • Martin and Dave's method of descent, which is unable to distinguish between snow and grass;
  • Dave's method of ascent with the ice axe on the downhill side - if he slips he uses his hand to balance and flails the ice axe in the air - this causes the person behind to wish he had his brown corduroys on;
  • Ruaridh cuts the best steps - try and follow him;
  • ICI colleagues up at the hut. 

That's all folks!!

                          Today's route - 14 km with 1450 metres ascent

Friday 26 March 2021

Friday 26 March 2021 - Wilmslow and Alderley Edge

Graeme and I started in rain today, on this third weekly stroll from his house in Wilmslow.

The rain soon eased and stopped, with a blue sky and fluffy clouds eventually taking over.

Near the top of Alderley Edge we passed this small trough, as we have done many times before. We wondered as to its provenance.

There was a clear view towards Manchester from the top of the edge. As usual you need to click on the image for a better version/slideshow.

Beyond these green fields are the M62 motorway and the cloud smothered summits of the South Pennines.

We made our way down Artists Lane and Welsh Row, where huge beech trees appear to be rooted to a small cliff edge.

There are many happy borders full of nodding daffodils. Graeme stopped to photograph this one, so I did likewise, but there were many more similar opportunities.

We finished in bright sunshine after a most pleasant morning's walk, refreshed by the warmth of spring and the beauty of the English countryside. There are worst places to have been Locked Down.

Here's today's 14 km route. It took us three and a half hours. The selection of paths from Graeme's house is almost a match for those from Bowland Climber's house in Longridge.

Covid restrictions are due to be relaxed next week, with groups of six being allowed outdoors, and travel a little way from home being acceptable. I've therefore produced a provisional programme of walks on which a very limited number of people (up to six) will be welcome. Do let me know if you fancy joining me on any of these outings. Details (and information about any changes) will appear here shortly.

All walks start at 10 am.
Thursday 1 April - 11 km around Thurstaston in the Wirral. Meet at the Wirral Way car park - SJ 239 834. Take a sandwich.
Friday 9 April - 10 km in Delamere Forest. Meet at Barnbridge Gates car park - SJ 542 716.
Friday 16 April - more Wirral walks - in the morning, an 8 km circuit from Burton. Meet by the Dee estuary in Burton - SJ 301 747. Then lunch. Then a 5 km walk around Thornton Hough, starting from Brimstage Hall Craft Centre - SJ 304 827.
Friday 23 April - 14 km based on a 'JJ' route - Park Moor and Spond Hill from Nelson Pit Car Park, Higher Poynton - SJ 945 834.
Friday 30 April - Around Longridge - a 12 km or so walk subject to BC's approval. Parking may be possible at SD 603 374 (watch this space).

Thursday 25 March 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 3 - Muttekopf Hutte to wild camp near Hanauer Hutte

Monday 14 July 1980 - diarist: Martin - Muttekopfhutte to wild camp near Hanauer Hutte 

The mattress was so cosy that most of its occupants overheated. An early rise presented a sandwich of scenery between the respective cloud levels of 3500 metres and 1500 metres. The full, albeit continental, breakfast did not include any beans. However, we set sail with a fair wind after Colin had taken the wrong route (but also forgot his rucksack), and I thought I saw a sparrowhawk.

Left Muttekopfhutte 8 am after an exquisite (ie very pleasant) sojourn there. Is it will it was it raining? Black lizards (salamanders?) mating; some friendly long-eared dingaling sheep. Mist in the valley.

Ascending path 622

Looking back down the valley to Muttekopf Hutte

The weather cleared. After a hard kick or two the ridge was attained, whence we perused many Alps, not least Heiterwand and, more distant, Gr. Grottenkopf. 

At Scharnitz joch 2438 metres

Soft glissades and sunshine. 

Glissading to Hahntennjoch

The view back to Muttekopf

Signpost to Anhalter Hutte

The view towards Boden, with Spitkopf

Eventually descended to a stream near the road and consumed our first lunch of the day. Much changing into shorts. Nick's and Colin's were particularly silly. Lots of tourists and Alpine flowers. What happens when you throw a piano down a mineshaft? At this point I assumed the congregation's reaction and bogged off. (This was all written over 40 years ago on our first Alpine trip...) 

Passing through Boden

The stroll down to Boden was picturesque and followed a stream. A brief interlude at this tourist centre revealed ye original haymakers, an extortionate beer garden, a post box, and some curious foreigners (maybe it was my legwear). Dave escorted us at breakneck pace to the foot of the steep hill to Hanauer Hutte, where during our brew Ruaridh negotiated a lift up for our packs on the hut transport system. The said packs were duly transported part way up, then back down again. Ruaridh is now renegotiating (to be continued). A Flat Miner.

Route 601 to Hanauer Hutte

Gully diversion

The rucksacks were collected at Hanauer Hutte after Ruaridh had exercised his cinematographical prowess and Dave (Josh) Scruby had drenched himself under a massive waterfall. 4:30 pm. Set up idyllic camp near the hut, much to the warden's surprise. "How long are you staying at the hut?" he asked.

Our campsite, with Dremelspitze

Much bathing in ice cold river - we are on the melting snow line. Tents look out to Kl. Schlenker Sp. (2748 m), Hanauer Sp. (2553 m) and Dremel Sp (2741 m) - spectacularly pointed. 

The view of the valley towards Boden is also very picturesque despite green blight up to 2000 metres in places. Dominating features to the north are Egger Muttekopf (2379 m) and Ubelwand (2744 m) on the right, and, more distant but equally enticing, Elmer Muttekopf (2357 m) and its exciting ridges (named after an early fatality involving American tourism), and in the far distance the 'rounded' peak of Schwarzhanskar Sp. some 12 miles away, can be clearly espied. On the near left, Potschallkopf's summit (2589 m) is cheekily exposed behind a spectacular foreground. Sod it. Nick's just reclaimed the map. RMP rules ok. The sun is shining. Snap, snap, click, clank bang. 

More beef bourguignon and rice. Delicious. Nick and Colin bogged off to Hanauer Hutte. The rest followed. Beer and schiewasser. Colin had a Gentian schnapps and had to drink it quickly before it evaporated (it was refluxing heavily). Ruaridh chickened out. Colin's weather forecast (as interpreted from the warden) - "the stuff from yesterday could come back again". I am told there is a good view from the smelly bog.

                               Today's route - 14 km with 1100 metres ascent

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 2 - An ascent of Muttekopf (2777m)

Sunday 13 July 1980 - diarist: Ruaridh - near Muttekopfhutte to Muttekopfhutte, and the ascent of Muttekopf 

(Nick) Up at 5:30? What a joke! Inter tent rivalry raged. The Vango vagabonds are a load of slug-a-beds. Dave was first up. Nick had a slug-a-billy. And now over to you MacP... 

(Ruaridh) Thank you Grey Nick, now on with the show. 

The generally unattractive veils of cloud hanging across the mountain meant that there was no great surge of enthusiasm to rise, with one exception. While the Dolmetscher was reading the Alpine Guide and discovering that the direct routes to the Steinseehutte were unmarked and unpromising, the rest of the party had their full twelve hours of sleep - "and I'm still knackered" (Colin)

When we had consumed all the breakfast that the caterer would allow us (for the third meal running Colin wanted to have Mars bars (guess who was carrying them) we had no further excuses for not getting up. So we got up! (Dave, as aforementioned, was the first to get up permanently although Martin had made a sortie earlier for the water (and to water)). 

There were differing ideas when we left, about how close to a (previously seen) rubbish bin we were joining the path. Colin took matters in hand, ie - that is how he carried the rubbish up to the hut. Higher up there was a parting of the ways - would we take the direct route or the Schlechtwetterweg? We opted for the latter in view of our loads and the probability that this path would be easier. 

The hut suddenly appeared again, when we were almost upon it, a fairly modern (1966) and welcoming mountain refuge. We went inside to explore and ask for the weather conditions and a forecast. The proprietor was very helpful but did speak rather fast. However, the Dolmetscher did manage to extract the information that it was possible to climb the Muttekopf without rope or crampons, but that (as we had guessed) there was no way we were going to be able to take the direct route to the Steinseehutte.

We shared a litre of tea (35 Sch) while discussing our plan of attack. We decided to climb the Muttekopf, leaving our packs in a store room in the hut, and next day taking the valley route to the Hanauer Hutte (via Boden). 

Colin generously volunteered his rucksack as a daysack and we trogged off up the muddy track as it started to drizzle (the weather that is, not the track!). We soon crossed the snow line, and as we paused under a large rock eating our cheese, the drizzle turned to snow. The snow grew heavier as we climbed. The going was rather slow as Nick felt a bit under the weather (mind you, we all felt the weather above us - as well as around us!). 

At the col (Muttekopfscharte) Martin writhed in the mud trying to extricate himself from the hip belt of Colin's rucksack. Needless to say, Colin was overjoyed at the new style! We caught a glimpse of the cross on the summit in a momentary thinning of the cloud. Thus heartened we sped onwards in a blaze of glory (well snow actually). 

We paused just long enough to eat Mars bars and sign the visitor's book at the cross (erected by the young farmers of Imst in 1961). As best we could tell no other English people had been up there (although there was an English sentence in the book).

Martin took a group photo and we made tracks for home.

Back at the col, it was more sheltered and we sat down and slid down the snow - clearly bobsleighing can be fun! The last bit back to the hut in the drizzle was messy to say the least - the slipperyest mud you have ever seen. 

A hose was thoughtfully provided for cleaning boots, gaiters, etc, before going inside. The proprietor came out and asked us what it was like. "Nicht so gut, but we enjoyed it". He invited us in to dry off. 

It did not take us long to succumb to the idea of having a main meal here and staying the night. It was pleasant to sit with another litre of tea as we waited for the meal to be cooked from scratch - none of your prepared foods or microwave ovens here! Dave and Martin had Goulash with Knodel (Knodel turned out to be a sort of dumpling with chunks of ham in it); Colin and Nick had a Ragout, and Ruaridh went native with Wurst, Sauerkraut and Kummelbrot. We could not resist the temptation of Apfelstrudel, and it came piled high with cream. 

We were shown to our Matratzenlager (Damenlager!), a room for five to ourselves. The loo next door was quite unusual; one whole wall was a rock face. The place certainly had atmosphere! 

Nick stunned everyone when he swapped his soggy breeches for shorts. The hut was certainly cheaper than we had expected a hut to be - 30 Sch (£1) a night per Matratzenlage, and 40-55 Sch for a meal, when we considered that everything had to be brought up from the valley by the Seilbahn. 

We amused ourselves with writing postcards / diaries and reading a German phrase book, and 'The Rise and Fall of the British Manager'. Just before 8 pm, the proprietor brought us his radio, so we could hear the news and weather forecast. A big groan as we discovered that the bad weather would continue. Small comfort that the weather was unusually bad, as elsewhere in Europe. A comment in English from another listener revealed a Dutchman - working with ICI no less, at the plant that Colin has twice visited. This naturally set off a conversation on who was in charge of which section and how ICI were doing with polyurethane. 

Martin made a mess with his beer, and Ruaridh tried out a Schiewasser, a refreshing squash drink.

                                        Today's route - 6 km with 1000 metres ascent