• Bern
  • 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


     


     

  • BLOG
  • Roadtrip to Italy: Cinque Terre

    Tiina Kivelä

    One of the best things about living in Switzerland is how close everything is. The other towns, valleys, mountains, glaciers, countries and cultures, like Italy. And in our series of Instagram-friendly trips mixing adventure and chill I’m now going to introduce you to Cinque Terre. It wasn’t the lightest trip, combined with another one, with many hours in cars and trains, topped with Italian food… But oh boy, it was worth the effort. In all, I was travelling for a week in the beginning of June; first on a real road trip to Italy, after which back to Switzerland to catch a flight to Andalusia, Spain. And let’s start with the Italian story, and the others will follow sooner or later.

    For the trip, friends (including the best trip organiser ever, thanks again M) had booked an Airbnb in a surprisingly nice little Ligurian town called Sarzana. And there we spent few days and nights, mostly on the roof terrace with good friends, ex-colleagues, ex-lovers and new lovers. Yes, with these people it’s kind of complicated, but that’s what makes it fun really. When travelling, better not to take oneself, nor others, too seriously. On a second thought, better not to take oneself too seriously ever. I’m afraid I’ve done that too much myself, and it would be a time to loosen up. Not to care that much about everything… But well, that’s another story. Let’s again get back to the Italian one.

    First day night we arrived after midnight to this sleepy town, a bit surprised for the road and tunnel charges on the way (and noting how one day we have to come back and stop on the way in Arosa Valley for biking). The next day, we started with real Italian breakfast (espresso! cappuccino!) before taking a bus and train to the first village of our Cinque Terre tour, Monterosso, from where we continued after a chill beach day to Vernazza by local boat shuttle. And since we are adventurers, not tourists, we had to rent kayaks for an hour before sunset and drink our aperó’s from plastic cups. And yes, there was pizza and seafood included in that day too. It was Italy and the sea, after all.

    The next and for me also the final Italian day, we drove to Portovenere (or Porto Venere – still not sure how it really goes) and tried to rent a boat to go further to the sea. But as the weather in the sea wasn’t permitting, a friend dug out his inflatable rubber boat and after late lunch, and gelatos, we paddled over from Portovenere to the nearby island. I think it’s called Palmaria but again not 100% sure. Nevertheless, there’s a national park and fewer tourists than on the mainland. In a matter of fact, it might so that the whole Cinque Terre is national park (hands up for nature and outdoor recreation!). It was a fun, a bit crazy trip and like always the island seemed to be something I want to go back to, hiking and finding a bit quieter beach for skinny-dipping, maybe…

    And yes, of course, there was a nice Italian sunset by the sea. And more pizza, wine and frutti di mare. And a bit of Lord Byron too (google Portovenere and Lord Byron to find out more) before,  at 5 am the next morning, heading back to Switzerland through Parma, Milan, catching a beautiful view to Lake Como too, to catch a flight to Andalusia. But that’s another story for another occasion. This was Italy in June 2017.

    Good night now.

    Tiina Kivelä

    There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
    There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
    There is society, where none intrudes,
    By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
    I love not man the less, but Nature more

    ― George Gordon Byron