• BLOG
  • In These Shoes And Trails I Walk The Alps

    Tiina Kivelä

    Just wanted to let you know in which kind of shoes I walk my hikes in the Alps. And sometimes dance a bit, like Julie Andrews.

    I’ve seen many a hiker in sneakers and even sandals and barefoot (greetings R), but my choice and recommendation are the category 3/trekking shoes. These for the Swiss trails marked with yellow and/or the red and white markings, as the trail in these pics from last Saturdays’a hike in Alpstein – the kind of which the most common trails for me and other hikers in Switzerland are.

    As you already know or see now in the pics, these trails are occasionally very rocky and slippery, and for that it’s good to have shoes which are supportive, robust and built for mountain hikes, including a good sole preferably with  climbing zone. And of course they should also have good looks and easy to clean materials – life’s too short for ugly shoes, even in the mountains where it might be that the only one seeing your shoes in addition to you is the marmot.

    My pair is the women’s low-cut Lowa Phoenix LL (not paid ad, bought and paid by myself). I’m not sure if the model’s in the production anymore, but it’s the kind of shoe I can highly recommend if you are looking for a simple and light trekking shoe for the easy and middle-difficulty hikes and day tours in the Alps (in the Swiss trail scale the yellow wanderwege and red-white bergwanderwgere), and even for the easier huttours.

    For me these shoes have worked more than fine in the Swiss trails and adventures for over two summers already, and even though after every 20km hike it’s nice to change to flip-flops or go barefoot I wouldn’t walk the trails with any other pair.

    Tiina Kivelä Hyvä retki

    Tiina Kivelä / Hyvä retki

    Tiina Kivelä / Hyvä retki

    Tiina Kivelä / Hyvä retki

    Apparently, I’m not as good choosing my watch to the occasion as I am with the shoes. DW is definitely not the best choice for mountains, but as far as I don’t have any other (though I do wonder how’s that possible with the second home in Switzerland) this has to go and collect scars as the reminders of good adventures.

    Tiina Kivelä / Hyvä retki

    Tiina Kivelä / Hyvä retki

  • BLOG
  • Only For Experienced Mountaineers: Schreckhornhütte 2529m

    Tiina Kivelä

    It wasFI:

     a weekend a few weeks back when last minute planning resulted in one of the best tours ever, a night at Schreckhornhütte, the destination for a bergwandern trail only for “experienced mountaineers“. Which I can’t claim yet. But you have to start somewhere, and when the signpost says “only for experienced mountaineers” there is a point when you keep going even without the experience. Because there’s the first time for everything.

    Nevertheless, for a similar trip without the experience, I do suggest you either hire a guide or take along companions with more experience and skills; people who you can trust no matter what. On the SAC trekkingscale, our trail was level 4, which we made even more challenging by our timing, just before the official season. During the official season, the trails have ladders and wires to support hikers on their way, and the huts have service like food. This time we could only lean on our experience and pure courage. And good weather forecast.

    MEET YOU THERE

    On this trip, we were self-catered, both on the trail and in the hut, where only the winter room facilities were at our service. Nevertheless, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever done. Basically in my backyard, which I miss a lot now when in Zürich. It’s all good here, but no mountains or glaciers as easily accessible as there.

    That Saturday, I decided to join the mixed group last minute. The first two of our group had left earlier for some glacier training; the ones I’m now used to follow almost everywhere. And then there were the two paragliders, flying the last part of the hike back on Sunday. And then there was me and my favourite couple (thanks for the ride L&A). It wasn’t an easy trip for any of us, though definitely worth the effort with the mountains and glaciers and views to Finsteraarhorn, the highest peak in Berner Oberland (4274 m).

    Normally, when route descriptions say 3h, I can take appr. 1h off the overall time, but this tour proved that when it’s level 4, the 5h description was more than accurate. And so, leaving quite late on Saturday, first driving to Gindelwald and taking the cable car up to Pfingstegg (8CHF with SBB half-far travelcard, in 2017) from where the initial hike started, we finally reached the hüt just in time before dark.

    On the way, we were “guided” by a steinbock couple and motivated by the desire to find our way to the cabin before sunset. Stopping briefly at Berghaus Bäregg on our way, to fill our water bottles, while the paragliders collected information of flying possibilities from there for the next day. And finally, after a bit scary and very challenging hike along the exposed path next to the Obers Ischmeer glacier, we met the first “group” around the corner of the cabin, just when the sky started to turn golden. And enjoyed a magnificent sunset with well-earned sip of wine.

    Tiina Kivelä

    HÜT DINNER IS A FIVE STAR DINNER, ALWAYS

    This weekend, we got the whole hut to ourselves. Or not the whole hüt exactly, but the parts open as so-called winter room. There was even enough room to separate the snoring ones, which is a real luxury in mountain settings. Normally, the snores, smell and unknown people belong to the most authentic mountain experience. But here’s a reason I love the off-season in the mountains; fewer people, more space and authentic off-season luxury mountaineering experience, when the timing is right.

    For dinner (which btw is always 5* up there, no matter what you are eating) there was wine and extra speciality in the form of porto bottle (extra points for people carrying wine in glass bottles up the mountains!). And then there were the steinbocks and marmots and the best people as company; what else can a girl ask for? There was laughing, there were challenges overcome with the help and support of others (lots of swearing too, I have to admit), and there was just pure joy mixed with the good kind of exhaustion.

    MOUNTAIN THERAPY

    After a good night sleep, there was my quiet morning yoga moment in solitude on the hüt “terrace” (well-needed with all the stress I’ve had related to the move and life changes in general), while two of us started their climb to higher mountains and others continued sleeping a bit later. And for some reason, I came back from the trip with one inner sole less of my amazing Lowa shoes. I have the feeling those curious marmots I saw that morning had something to do with this, or then it was just the tired me leaving it to dry in the sun eternally. Nevertheless, no matter what the initial reason, the sole has now been replaced by the lovely customer service of Lowa, and I can keep on going further and higher on these mountains.

    Once again I have to say these really are the kind of days and nights I’ve learned to love the most. Going forward, going higher and learning so much. This time the biggest lesson was to learn how tall the crevasses of the glaciers really are. A humbling experience indeed. Obers Ischmeer and Finsteraarhorn were magnificent, especially seeing them this close. Walking past them and standing below them, I also started to think that maybe a glacier and/or mountaineering training course would be good to take at some point. Because no matter how scary, glaciers and high mountains are oh so tempting and I want to have more of them and learn more (and krhm climb a >4000m peak before I turn 30). Zürich is nice but… I guess I was spoiled by Berner Oberland so that now I can’t be too long a time away from the mountains.

    Luckily though, SBB serves quite well, to the mountains and back. And these guys just keep on being themselves no matter where we meet. Though best enjoyed in the mountains.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Where: Schreckhornhütte SAC 2’650’592.125, 1’159’206.469, from Grindelwald