Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Hiking around Schilthorn

The other weekend I took myself up to Lauterbrunnen to do some camping and hiking.
I've been to this area a couple of times before with Linda and my parents so I'm quite familiar with it now, but it is also one of the most spectacular parts of Switzerland so worth returning to!
I decided to spend my time hiking around Schilthorn, which is a 3000m peak with (as is usual for Switzerland) a restaurant at the top. This particular restaurant is Piz Gloria, which revolves and was the setting for a James Bond movie!
On Saturday I got up quite early and caught the lift all the way to the top of Schilthorn, since the weather was clear and I was hoping to get a good view over the mountain range.
I then hiked down the mountain towards the Birg lift station, taking a detour to walk past Grauseeli and take pictures of the reflections on the lake there. It was a really beautiful calm day so I got some good photos.
Then I cut back towards Schilthornhutt with the goal of climbing to the top of Bietenhorn (2756m) which is indicated as a blue trail on the map (which indicates an Alpine path, supposedly trickier than a Mountain path). In fact despite being steep the climb wasn't that challenging.
I returned to Schilthornhutt for some lunch and to regain some energy after having already done a significant bit of hiking. The day was still really nice although I could see some clouds coming in and I knew there was rain forecast for the weekend.
Soon I continued down the mountain, and at what would have been the bottom of the ski lift run I found an amazing spot just off the trail, which I reached by walking over lush green carpet and ended in a natural balcony looking over the valley. Not for the first time during the hike I found myself saying "wow!".
The remainder of the hike down was not that eventful but for the fact that a storm rolled in and I got rained on heavily. I stopped at a restaurant for a coffee and cake until it lightened up and I finished the walk to Murren where I caught the lift down into the valley.
That night a huge storm rolled in with big winds and heavy rain, but my tent stood up to it very well and I had a nice, dry, night's sleep.
The next day I wasn't sure if I was going to do more walking as my legs were already feeling quite stiff but, after the rain of the previous night, the air was crystal clear and I couldn't resist getting some more hiking in.
This time I decided to hike from Murren (1600m) to the top (3000m) via Rotstockhutt, which meant I would see the North side of Schilthorn whereas the previous day I had been on the South/West.
This hike was really amazing, taking me up through the farming areas above Murren and Gimmelwald, into the Valley where Rotstockhutt is found (and where I had a delicious cheese sandwich). In fact I was a little dispirited when I reached Rotstockhutt and looked at my map and realised I had climbed only 400m and had 1000m of climb still ahead of me.
Anyway, walking past streams, waterfalls and rockfalls up to the ridge was amazing and being in the cooler air at the higher altitude was fantastic.
I finished the walk by hiking along the ridge to Schilthorn, which took me from 2600m to 3000m and was over some really interesting terrain - there was ladders and ropes in some trickier spots.
By the time I got to the top it was about 1:30pm in the afternoon and the clouds were starting to come in. After a bit of a rest I simply caught the lift all the way down to the bottom - I was exhausted!
People may wonder what motivates someone to climb up a mountain, but for me it was easy to answer this question after a weekend of hiking: it's simply one of the most enjoying and fulfilling things I've ever done. Of course, my legs were aching for days afterwards...

No comments: