Tour du Wildhorn, Switzerland (Day 4 of 4)

We awoke to see the nearby mountains covered by what can only be called a smattering of snow and we were buoyed by the forecast, which said no wind and no rain. ūüėÄ

When I’d organised the trip, I’d read that there was a ridge towards the finish, called the Arete de l’Arpille, which was not good for people with vertigo.¬† But, having seen some of the pictures, where it looked quite rounded, I convinced Pete, everything would be fine.¬† (He’s so trusting!)

However, whilst talking to a mother and daughter in the hut, who had done this section 4 days earlier, they told us about a series of ladders and ropes, which they found pretty challenging (aka scary) – though possibly no worse than what we had already done on Day 3.¬† Phew, we should be OK. (At least that was what I thought, but I’m not sure what was going through Pete’s mind… ūüė£ūüėúūüėĖūüė®ūüėĪūü•∂?)¬† But then we didn’t consider that the forecast might be slightly wrong…

As we approached the Col des Audannes and said series of about 6 or 7 ladders, each with 11 rungs, the weather gods decided to have a little fun and sent some more of the white stuff falling from the sky.¬† Thankfully it was short-lived, but at least this tells you that it was cold.¬† ¬†Pete had some gloves, but silly Mike thought he’d lost his somewhere the day before and I went down those wet, potentially slippery, rungs and snow covered ropes with my bare hands.¬† Gosh, it was cold.¬† One slip and we were gonners (see pic 15).¬†¬†But, we survived. ūüėÄ

A little further along, there was another drop down a gully on a thick blue rope (see pic 21), followed by a much thinner climbing rope (pic 22).¬† Oh, the joy on Pete’s face was something to behold!¬† But we still had that last ridge to look forward to…¬† As it turned out, Pete’s new trainers had a much better grip than mine and he had no issues at all.¬† I was the one who slid a couple of times on the greasy surface.
(For the record and sake of completeness and safety, in case anyone is thinking of doing this route: The ridge goes away on each side at around 60 degrees and on 2 occasions the narrow path drops down to the side for about 50 m/yards each time, with no ropes or other form of protection.  So you have to be sure footed).

I’d like to show you some more photos of the final kilometre, but as you can see from the last few pictures, we finished in mist, with visibility down to around 25m/yds.¬† So, we skipped the final few kilometres and Jude picked us up at the Col du Sanetsch.¬† We returned home for a much needed bath and shower – not to mention a few beers and a superb chicken curry with poppadoms and dips (all prepared by Jude of course)! ūüėč

I hope you have all enjoyed this series of posts and our little adventure.¬† Clearly this route is not for the elderly or infirm… (Oh, sorry Pete! ūüėČ)

As before all Pete’s pics are watermarked.

 

 

Tour du Wildhorn, Switzerland (Day 2 of 4)

Although we had only 18km (11 miles) to cover, Pete and I knew that, with over 2,000m (6,500ft) of ascent, our second day would be the toughest (at least in terms of effort*).  Most people stop at Iffigenalp, but we chose to continue and do the Wildsrubelhutte variant.  So an early start was called for.

After a morning of lush green meadows, we had a short climb up to the Tungelpass and into the Iffigtal, passing the impossibly turquoise blue Iffigsee (pic 17).  We then stopped to catch our breath and a quick drink at Iffigenalp before setting off on the 1200m (almost 4,000 ft) climb to the hut.  As you can see from the pictures below, the terrain changes quite dramatically once you get above 2,500m (8,200 ft).  The only thing spoiling the views were the stanchions which supported two cable car lifts, which ran from Iffigenalp to the Wisshorelucke.  From what I heard, these were not for skiing as you might expect, but for use by the Swiss military.

*Days 3 and 4 would have their own challenges, but I’ll get on to them tomorrow… ūüėä

Again, Pete’s pictures are suitably watermarked.

Tour du Wildhorn, Switzerland (Day 1 of 4)

For the past 4 days my good mate Pete and I have been walking around the Wildhorn, staying in mountain huts.¬† After being dropped off by my wife, Jude, at Lac de S√©nin, day 1 would take us to the Geltenhutte. As you can see from the images below, the views were classically Swiss, with green meadows, small lakes and waterfalls – all under perfectly blue skies. ūüėä

As you can see from pics 34 & 35, the inside of the mountain hut isn’t quite as rustic as you might think.¬† After a refreshing beer (or 2), Pete and I tucked into a delicious 3 course meal.¬† The perfect start to a fantastic trip.

As you can see from the watermark, some of these photos are Pete’s.

Plans de Bertol Walk

We have two of our regular guests staying this week.¬† Malcolm is on one of the Frost Guiding courses, while his wife, Helen, is simply relaxing and enjoying the fresh Swiss air and reading her book.¬† In between times, she also likes to go out walking, so on Monday we took the bus up the valley to Arolla, to walk to the Plans de Bertol (@2,664m or 8,740ft).¬† It’s a walk I’ve posted before, but not for 3 years, so I thought I would share my photos with you all. ūüėä

 

Midsummer Festival, Evol√®ne, Switzerland

Every year, on the 15th August, our village is host to one of the most traditional and colourful festivals.¬† Every other year, it is supplemented by the inclusion of the musicians and dancers from the CeŐĀleŐĀbrations Interculturelles de la Montagne aŐÄ EvoleŐÄne (CIME), which takes place in the few days leading up to this and concludes with a final Gala evening performance.

The main event starts with a procession of vintage cars.  This is followed by people dressed in traditional costumes, demonstrating local dancing, music and crafts.  This year it was interspersed with performers from Russia, Armenia, Ecuador, Italy and Montenegro.

As you can see from the photos below (the best ones of which were taken by my wife Jude, as marked), everyone had a fabulous time.¬† ¬†And if you ever wondered where this utopia is that I live, but couldn’t be bothered to look it up, I’ve added a map at the end. ūüėä

 

Mike’s Music Monday #19

It’s quite timely that I should have posted this picture of my two good friends Ian and Martin, as Joe Jackson was a particular favourite of Ian’s and the song always reminds me of a camping holiday that the three of us had in Guernsey in the summer of 1979.¬† We travelled over on the ferry when the infamous Fastnet storms were beginning.¬† The boat was pitching and rolling all the way.¬† Almost everyone on the ship was ill except the 3 of us, who could be found propping up the bar.

Martin played on the wing for York Rugby Union Football Club and was quick as well as strong and he decided to enter the Guernsey Open Athletics Championship.¬† He chose to compete in¬† the 100 metres and the Shot Putt event.¬† (Not many people attempt that ‘double’!)¬† Ian and I didn’t want to be left out so we recruited another 100m sprinter to form a 4x100m relay team.¬† We finished 4th out of 5, beating the team put together by the 1500m runners, who had finished their own race only about 20 minutes before!

It’s those sort of holidays that bond friendships for the rest of your life.¬† Even today, 40 years on, you may hear one of us say “Is she really going out with him?” ūü§£

 

 

Sunday afternoon in Evol√®ne, Switzerland

This weekend and until the 15th August, sees the biennial CIME (CeŐĀleŐĀbrations Interculturelles de la Montagne aŐÄ EvoleŐÄne) festival, which features dancers and singers from different mountain areas around the world.¬† We haven’t bought tickets to see any of the evening shows, but there are impromptu events happening in and around the villages of the Val d’H√©rens.

So, with nothing better to do and the sun shining, I wandered down to the village, taking some photos as I went, and stumbled across a procession of the Russian, Italian and Ecuadorian participants.¬† I presumed this was a sort of preamble or practice for the main ‘mid-summer’ procession on the 15th.¬† I hope to bring you some pictures of that later next week, but in the meantime, here are a few images from today.

 

Circular Walk from Crayke, N. Yorkshire, England

After our successful walk from Byland Abbey the day before, Ian and I were keen to get out again, despite the inclement weather.  A local landowner has created a Permissive path around the village of Crayke, which we extended a little further north (after a short stop for a coffee and a piece of cake at the excellent Dutch House РCafé/Garden/Gallery) before returning to complete the route.

Circular walk from Byland Abbey, N. Yorkshire, England

I’ve recently returned from a trip to the UK, where I met up with some of my old friends to play golf and go for a couple of walks.¬† I’ll skip quickly passed the golf and show you a few photos of a walk I did with Ian, Martin and his wife Jan, who had recently bought a camera very similar to mine.¬† So we took it in turns to snap away at anything and everything and a few of the photos below are courtesy of Jan (as watermarked).

The day was noted for a rather cloudy start, which thankfully improved, and a Collie dog which adopted us in the car park and followed us, or rather, we followed it, for most of the way, around the walk.  We left it in the good care of 2 ladies who were doing the same walk and knew it lived near the Abbey.

For more information on Byland Abbey, please read here, but it was founded in 1135.

Ferpècle Glacier Walk

It’s almost a year since I went up to the head of the Ferp√®cle valley to check on the state of the glacier ‘hole’.¬† So, yesterday, I caught the bus up to Ferp√®cle and walked up to the Bricola Hut, to look down on the glacier, before walking back home again.

The images from the 2 posts are not directly comparable as the pictures below are taken from above, but it does look like the glacier has remained in about the same position.¬† There is, however, a lot of water gushing down the river.¬† Certainly I’ve never seen it flowing so freely, though that could be due to the late snow we had in April (and that which fell a few nights ago to around 2,000m).

It was a beautiful walk in bright sunshine and I was delighted to see lots of families, with some very young children, no older than 3, also exploring the valley.¬† You’re never too young, or old for that matter, to enjoy the countryside. ūüôā

Note that the first picture was taken while waiting for the bus in Evolène, though it does also show the glacier, so I felt justified in including it!