• BLOG
  • LOVE LETTER FOR SWISS TRAIL SIGNALIZATION

    Tiina Kivelä

    I miss you, Switzerland. I’ve been in Finland for three weeks now and even though it’s quite nice here too, I can’t help thinking of you every other minute. You had me at hello last year, and I can’t wait to get back to you. You keep me focused, and your quality of life is just awesome. No-one is perfect but for me, you are good enough. You keep me on track, you keep me fit and you make me happy. And you make exploring, a thing which makes me extra happy, so easy. 

    Up here in Lapland, I feel a bit lost without you. In a matter of fact, I’ve been literally lost a few times, missing your trail signalization. Not in a boring way, there’s still the excitement and challenges left. But you have the base set so that I can concentrate on the other things rather than keeping myself on track. You make sure I find my mountains and my way home in the evenings, without needing to think it so much. Up here, too many times it’s all about finding the start, the middle and the way home. Views come second when I need to translate the bizarre logic of Finnish trail signalization.

    In Switzerland, all I have to do it jump off the train or my house and find the first signs of by you at the corner of the station/street/condo. Compared to most of the countries, you understand that the trip starts from one’s mind and you don’t let me in trouble searching for the start point already. No, you put the sign pointing to nearest peak right there in the train station. And off I can go, conveniently and excited.

    Some times I have been a bit confused, even with you. When you haven’t been there in every crossroads and when you haven’t pointed to the destination I’ve been initially looking for. But in most cases, an additional map with all the trails (like this – you may click and view the hiking trails from the menu on the left-hand side) would have helped me to solve that little puzzle. After all, it’s good that you also remind me to trust myself and be comfortable with my insecurities. And many times, getting lost ends up being the best part of the trip. As long as it doesn’t end badly.

    I really hope you don’t forget me while I’m away. I’m more than fine sharing you with others but I can’t wait to meet you again next week and let you guide me higher.

    And I will follow you, always.

    Yours, Tiina.

    Tiina Kivelä

    SHORT GUIDE TO SWISS TRAIL SIGNALIZATION

    • Hiking trails (Wanderwege) are generally accessible trails and usually determined for foot traffic. They generally lead aside from roads carrying motorized traffic and are usually not surfaced with asphalt or concrete. Steep sections are negotiated with steps and areas with the danger of falling are protected by hand rails. Streams are crossed by catwalks or bridges. Hiking trails make no special demands upon the users. Signalization for hiking trails is yellow.
    • Mountain trails (Bergwanderwege) are hiking trails, which partly access difficult terrain. They are mostly steep, narrow and exposed in places. Particularly difficult sections are secured with ropes or chains. In certain circumstances streams can only be crossed via fords. Users must be surefooted, have a head for heights, be physically fit and have knowledge of dangers in the mountains (rock falls, danger of slipping/falling, sudden changes in the weather). Solid boots with good sole profiles, equipment appropriate to weather conditions and topographical maps are preconditions. Signalization of mountain trails is a yellow signpost with white-red-white tip. White-red-white painted stripes confirm the route.
    • Alpine routes (Alpinwanderwege) are challenging mountain trails. They sometimes lead across glaciers and scree, through rockfall areas and through rocks with short climbing sections. It can not be assumed that any structural provisions have been undertaken and these would in any case be limited to securing particularly exposed sections with a danger of falling. Users of Alpine routes must be surefooted, have a head for heights, be physically very fit and know how to use ropes and pick axe as well as being able to negotiate climbing sections with the aid of their hands. They must have knowledge of dangers in the mountains. In addition to the equipment for mountain trails, an altimeter, compass, rope and pick axe for crossing glaciers are essential. Signalization of Alpine routes is a blue signpost with white-blue-white tip, white-blue-white painted stripes confirm the route. The information panels at the beginning of Alpine routes indicate special requirements (more info here).
    • The signalization of SwitzerlandMobility routes (Die Wegweisung der Routen von SchweizMobil – you’re welcomeis standard throughout Switzerland. It is based on Swiss norms for signalization of non-motorized traffic (SN 640 829). It was revised for the realization of SwitzerlandMobility and today is the only international norm for standard signalization of non-motorized traffic. The yellow signs for hiking trails, white signs for the barrier-free routes and red for cycling, mountain biking and skating routes were supplemented for SwitzerlandMobility with the addition of route information panels including route names and numbers. One-digit numbers indicate national routes, two-digit numbers indicate regional routes and three-digit numbers indicate local routes. The route information panels are green for hikers and barrier-free routes, light blue for cyclists, ochre for mountain bikers, violet for skaters and turquoise for canoeists. These colours are also used by SwitzerlandMobility to illustrate the various routes e.g. on maps, information signs and the Internet. 

    Source & more information: Wanderland.ch / Difficulty scales by Sac.ch


    Tiina Kivelä


    FI: Puhutaanpa hetki ulkoilureittimerkinnöistä / LinkedIn Pulse

     

     

  • BLOG
  • ONLY FOR EXPERIENCED MOUNTAINEERS: SCHRECKHORNHÜTTE 2529m

    Tiina Kivelä

    It was 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


     


    FI:

    SCHRECKHORNHÜTTE

    Amatöörialppinistin urani jatkui muutama viikko takaperin yökyläilyllä Schreckhornhütella parhaiden ihmisten seurassa. Reissu ei ollut helppo, viiden tunnin vaellus hüttelle ja takaisin nelostason alppivaellusreittiä pitkin veti hiljaiseksi, varsinkin seuraavalla viikolla. Seura sitä vastoin sai nauramaan ja hymyilemään niin että kaikki oli sen arvoista.

    Ajankohta reissulla oli juuri ennen virallista sesonkia, joten hüttella oli avoinna vain talvi “huone” eli itsepalvelukeittiö, ulkohuussi ja muutama huone. Onneksi sentään enemmän kuin yksi, sillä näin saimme jaettua ryhmän kuorsaaviin ja ei-kuorsaaviin, tavallaan autenttisen alppikokemuksen vastaisesti. Yleensä kuvaan kuuluu ahtaus, kosteus ja tuntemattomien ihmisten kuorsaus, sekä aikainen hiljaisuus ja aikaiset herätykset. Ruokaa ja lisäpalveluita saa myöskin rahaa vastaan sesonkina. Mutta sille on syynsä miksi itse pyrin liikkumaan off-seasonia; vähemmän tuntemattomia ihmisiä, enemmän tilaa ja mahdollisuus luksukseen kun aika ja paikka sattuvat kohdilleen.

    TEKEMÄLLÄ OPPII

    Virallisen kauden ulkopuolella liikkuminen tarkoitti meille hieman haasteellisempaa matkaa, sillä huippusesonkia varten pystytettettävät tikapuut ja vaijerit eivät vielä olleet paikallaan kaikkialla ja hütte ei tarjonnut palvelua vaan jouduimme huolehtimaan 100% itsestämme. Tämä ei kuitenkaan ollut suinkaan hullumpi kuvio lopulta ja totesinkin lopuksi matkan (varsinkin alastulon) olleen haastavin mutta myös opettavin ja palkitsevin reissu ikinä.  Olimme ainoa seurue mökillä, joten saimme majoitustilat yksityiskäyttöön ja näin ollen viini ja porto (extrapisteet kavereille jotka toivat viinin ja porton lasipulloissa ylös asti!) saivat virrata hieman vapaammin, vaikka ensimmäinen parivaljakko ryhmästämme aloittikin seuraavana päivänä kiipeilynsä ennen kahdeksaa, melkein kuin oikeat alppinistit (vielä minäkin joku päivä, yli 4000m vuorelle, ehkä, toivottavasti).

    Viime aikoina elämässä on ollut vähän liikaakin myrskyjä; uusia jännittäviä työprojekteja, muutto ja muuta “mukavaa”. Fyysisesti tämä reissu ei ollut helppo, mutta mielelle se oli sitäkin tarpeellisempi. Haastava reitti sai pään unohtamaan kaiken muun kuin sen kallionlohkeaman mihin tukeutua liukasta jyrkänteen reunaa kavutessaan, ja ystävät saivat muistamaan kuinka paljon elämässä onkaan naurun aihetta. Ja jäätiköt ja vuoret, Obers Ischmeer ja Bernin ylämaan korkein huippu Finsteraarhorn (4274m) saivat nöyrtymään ja asettamaan omat pienet ongelmat taas oikeisiin mittasuhteisiin.

    Reissun paras hetki oli lopulta sunnuntai-aamu, kun veljekset lähtivät kiipeilylleen ja minä hiljennyin mökin pihalla auringonnousu,  vuoret, jäätikkö ja utelias murmeli seurani. Oli hiljaista ja niin hemmetin kaunista. Ystävää lainatakseni, juuri sosiaalisesti rajoittuneelle suomalaiselle sopiva hetki.

    Sille on syynsä, miksi rakastan näitä vuoria niin paljon.