Hiking Mount Siguniang – The Four Sisters Mountain

IMG_20170418_203702

It is 2.30 AM, we are on 4200m, and ready to make it to the second peak of the Four Sisters Mountain on 5200m. Ready because the sky is clear and the stars are shining brighter than ever, the conditions look good and we feel tired, but ok. Nevertheless, I am quite scared, scared of not making it to the peak, because during our 5 hour sleep, I woke up really dizzy and nauseous. Clearly the altitude had impacted me, that much I had expected, but the question I was now afraid to ask myself was if 5 hours on 4200 m was enough acclimation to make it to Erguniang peak on 5200m?

It all started couple of months back when Elias and I decided to travel to China. As any true hiker and mountain lover, I could of course not give up this awesome opportunity to hike some of the picture pretty mountains in Sichuan province. After quite a lot of research we decided to hike the first two peaks of Mount Siguniang or Four Sister Mountain, as it is also called. Our starting point was a small village called Rilong. Rilong is approximately 4 hours drive from Chengdu. It is not much to look at as it is basically just a stop where you can gather some strength and acclimatize for your hike. The village serves as an entrance to all three valleys in Mount Siguniang National Park. The park comprises Mount Siguniang and the surrounding three valleys, namely Changping Valley, Haizi Valley and Shuangqiao Valley. To hike the Dafeng and Erfeng and (the first and the second sister) you trek through Haizi Valley.

IMG_20170416_144711
Rilong village

Hiking in Changping Valley…

We decided to have two days (one day + one evening) in Rilong in order to acclimatize. On the second day we did a small hike in Changping Valley. You can get to this valley directly from the village. Buy the ticket in the visitor’s center and a small bus will take you up to a small and still in use monastery. From there you can hike for hours. First four hours will be on a wooden trail, traditional Chinese style, but you could do a several day hike in this valley, probably not meeting any tourists as most tourist only walk for an hour or so on the wooden trail and then turn around. I think there would be some really nice hiking opportunities in this valley so if you would like to go more on your own, without a guide, this could be the place to do it.

IMG_20170417_050942
map over the park – not exactly detailed, but the only available one.

We did not get to the end of the wooden trail but it was a really nice walk anyways. On our way we saw some waterfalls and a nice lake with the Four sisters mountains in the background.

IMG_20170417_114100
The view from the Buddhist temple which is just at the entrance of the Changping Valley
IMG_20170417_115521
There were not many tourists around, and for the most of the time we had the wooden trail  between mountains for ourselves.

IMG_20170417_124156

IMG_20170417_133344

Finally ready to hike Haizi Valley and two of four sisters…

On the third day we started our hike to Mount Siguniang. The trail goes via the Haizi Valley (which by the way does not really feel like a valley, but rather a ridge) and starts from the same Visitor Center in Rilong. First we hiked up the wall behind the visitor’s center. On the top of the wall we met some Chinese tourist who had ridden up on a horseback and wanted to have a picture with us. This happens quite a lot in China, since there are not that many non-Asian tourists around 😀 After saying bye to our Chinese fans we hiked along the ridge, or valley as they like to call it, more or less alone.

IMG_20170418_043306

Already from beginning of our hike we could see the four sisters mountain snow tops. Along the road we saw Chinese women and men picking herbs and mushrooms. It is a big tradition there, and so the locals could just stay in the mountains for weeks to pick herbs and mushrooms.

IMG_20170418_045206 (1)
We actually only had one horse to carry our food. In the background you see the four sisters. The first two peaks are a non-technical hike, for the other two climbing equipment is needed.

IMG_20170418_104223

The dark dirt trails were easy to follow. Every once in a while some trees offered  protection from the sun, but for the most of the time we were walking between yaks on open grass fields. In the horizon as far as we could see there were white mountaintops. I kept asking our guides about the names of the mountains around and if they were “hikable”. Sadly I only got negative answers. I do not know if they just did not want to encourage us or if this really is true that most of the mountains in the park are not being actively hiked. It’s really a shame if the latter is the case, because there is soo much potential for really nice hikes 😀

IMG_20170418_095824

We also saw a lot of Yaks. They do look a little scary, but in fact they are used to people and were not dangerous or aggressive. We could get really close to them since they were at the times sleeping on the trail.

After three more hours on the trail between 6000m high mountains, with amazing scenery,  we spotted a quite big lake down in the valley. From there it was just about one hour hike to the base camp. We camped outside at the Erfeng base camp, but there was also a possibility to stay indoors in a very simple sleeping dorm where thin mattresses  were provided.

IMG_20170418_131535
Erfeng base camp

After we were all settled in, one of our guides cooked dinner for us in the rather simple but fixed base camp kitchen. Sitting in the small dark hut, after a 9 hour hike, having only our headlights for the light, we would have probably eaten almost anything that we got served, but the food exceeded our expectations. Our guide cooked several different dishes, including rice, noodles, different vegetables, soup and some meat. It all seemed so fresh and was tasty so no complains there!

IMG_20170418_134316

We then tried to rush to sleep as we were to wake up 2:20AM for breakfast. For breakfast we were served Chinese rice soup/porridge, bread and some fried vegetables – not exactly traditional western breakfast, but it was ok and experiencing new traditions was part of the experience we wanted to have.

The night, as I already mentioned, did not pass without worries, but at least we were not freezing 🙂 Slowly we started the hike and tried to not lose the sight of our guide in the darkness.  As I was walking there in the middle of the night, I could not really think that it was heavy or long way to go. I was just concentrating on breathing deep and well and on walking slowly. On the steep areas I only saw the warm air from my breath under the light of the headlight. During the breaks and on non-steep areas, I tried to take in the scene of white mountaintops shining on black starry sky as the moonlight hit them. While we were walking the moon was rising higher and higher and then suddenly the sky started turning lighter, first purple and then orange. When you walk as slow as we did, you really have the time to notice these things and take it all in 🙂

IMG_20170419_062405
Just before the sunrise.

Without really thinking about it, it was light as day and we were climbing up a steep long wall of snow, pushing our crampons deep into the snow on each step. And when I say steep, I mean it. This hike required us to do some scrambling and was quite steep. I really needed to concentrate in order to not get a too high pulse. The wall was really long and steep, and the worst part was that I had no idea on how long it was until the peak, since it was not visible. Just when I was starting to have my doubts about the wall ever ending and us ever seeing the peak,  we got to a plateau and could see the peak! We were so happy, I was so excited and psyched to go on that I did not want to have a break!

IMG_20170419_072652

IMG_20170419_073216
Oh so happy, I could see the peak!

IMG_20170419_080855

Our guide was not sharing my enthusiasm. He did not want go any further because of the snow conditions! We were max 250 hm from the peak!!! We tried to talk him into it, but he meant that the snow did not “feel good”. I must say, that both me and Elias considered the snow to be fine so we are not sure why he had a different opinion. Even though it was incredibly disappointing to not go on, you just have to respect the decision of the guide in these situations. So we did. Not happy about it, since we were both feeling fine, no altitude sickness, the weather was perfect and the peak was so close… but ALWAYS listen to your guide, right?

IMG_20170419_083243
Our guide, in front of the peak, not wanting to go any further.. Looking at this picture now, I still feel like we could have easily continued 😦 …

So we headed down, still quite happy, because the view in front of us could not let us feel anything else than pure joy.

IMG_20170419_075339

IMG_20170419_073335

IMG_20170419_073839

IMG_20170419_085744

IMG_20170419_075556

We were back at base camp around 10 and decided to take a nap before moving to the DaFeng base camp. DaFeng base camp was just 200 m lower and 1,5 hours walk from ErFeng base camp. So now you probably wonder why we did not do the lower peak first and then the higher one. That was actually the initial plan, but since we heard that the weather was going to be bad on the third day we decided to change plans in order to get best conditions on the highest peak.

IMG_20170419_142911

IMG_20170419_155329
Dafeng Base camp, Dafeng itself is in the fog to the right.

During our walk to base camp the weather turned colder and windier. Once in base camp, we sat up our tent again and just when we were ready to go to sleep it started to snow. Due to the “bad” weather, we were to only ones to camp outside. We were allowed to sleep until 4.30 AM this time and got luxurious 9 hours of sleep.

In the morning the sky was cloudy and the ground was white. After some porridge and coffee we started the ascent. This time the trail was much more rocky, but not that steep. Once again were the only ones hiking. It was hard to spot the peak because it was covered in fog and before we knew it our guide said that we were almost at the top. I almost did not believe him! How could we be on 5000 m so easily? Where is the altitude sickness, the headache and the muscle ache? Unfortunately we got no stunning view from the 5038 m peak, but at least we made it to the top this time 🙂 🙂 🙂

IMG_20170420_065455
Almost on the top, but ehh where is it?
IMG_20170420_074744
Found it – happy couple on their first 5000m mountain top.
IMG_20170420_084052
The dramatic sky on our way down to the base camp

The hike was easy and we were back down in base camp at ten o’clock. Since we were so quick and were not really tired, we decided to descent down to Rilong even though the initial plan was to spend the night and then head down the next day as we had to descend more than 2000 m.

Just when we got to our hotel in Rilong it started to rain heavily and then to snow. We only had time to acknowledge that we made the right decision heading down a day early, before we fell asleep at 7 PM. We woke at 8:00 AM the next day to a completely white Rilong. It is safe to say that we were really happy that we had an experienced driver to take us over the mountains back to Chengdu …

We did also some other hikes while in China, so I will be writing some more posts about hiking in China soon. Below you can see where we were during our travel. The red pointer is were Rilong and four sisters mountains are located.

Screenshot from 2017-05-14 18:18:18

And the last hike of 2016 went to…

img_20161210_102545

Long time no see, have you been hiking? I have 😀 !

Between all these Christmas markets, Gluhwein evenings (I just can not get enough Gluhwein 😛 ) and Christmas parties, I finally found time and will to go hiking again. Originally I had a different hike planned but then life happened. I discovered that I had a concert ticket for a concert on Saturday night and that the weather was not looking too good for Sunday. Luckily my dear love managed to convince me to go on an easy hike on Saturday :).  Normally I am not hard to convince, but on Friday evening I was still feeling little hangover from a Christmas party we had at work and did really not feel liek going hiking on Saturday. Especially when I knew that I also had to go to a concert after the hike. Luckily my love did all the packing and preparations so I just needed to say yes!

Saturday morning of we were to the following hike:

Route: Flintsbach -Hohe Asten 1104 m – Riesenkopf 1338 m – Maiwand 1135 m-Hohe Asten 1104 m – Flintsbach

Time: depends on your speed, but approximately 3 hours to Riesenkopf  and 30 -40 min to Maiwand. 1,5 hour down from Hohe Asten.

Elevation gain: Approximately 1000m, little more it you do Maiwand.

Transport: approximately 1 hour by train from Munich direction Kufstein.

This hike is very easy, so it is perfect for a beginner or for a family – EXCEPT Maiwand! Maiwand peak is therefore optional. It is just for the more adventitious ones, because it requires surefootedness and that you are not afraid to climb a short wall using only rope. If you don’t feel up for it just go to Riesenkopf and back to the hut.

On Riesenkopf  we had a loong break and just enjoyed the sun.

img_20161210_113358No snow in December as you can see. Isn’t that strange? Is this how the winters from now on are going to look like? 😦

Here are some pictures from Maiwand. No extra equipment is needed. If you feel safer you can take a helmet with you, but there is no danger for loose rocks.

img_20161210_130156

We split the group into two and it was only four of us doing Maiwand in the end.

img_20161210_131750

You need to climb this short wall both on you way there and back. Somehow, the way back is much easier than the way down 😉

img_20161210_123826

Surefootedness is needed on this short but exposed ridge. If you look closely you can see the Maiwand peak on the background.

As you see there are two tricky parts to hiking Maiwand.

  1. The path to it is quite hard to find. Basically when you see the red sign saying “Nor for güpte” this is where you need to take to the right to do the pike. BTW, you can easily see Maiwand from Riesenkopf . After taking to the right at sign, you just need to try to keep going right the path is really not marked. But after a short while ( 5 – 8 mins) you can see the peak and you will know where to go.
  2.  There is a approximately 6 m high wall  where you have to rely on a rope to get down (see the pics in the slideshow). The rope is already there so you don’t need to bring your own.

img_20161210_140039

Hohe Asten is usually open the whole year and is a very nice hut for enjoining a beer with a nice view.

img_20161210_155848

What is your last hike of year 2016 and what hiking plans do you have for 2017??

Did you see the supermoon? From Jochberg (1565m) you could.

So on Monday everybody were exited about the “supermoon”. Apparently the moon did appear larger than it has since the 1940s. It was supposed to be the whole 14% bigger and 30% brighter compared with the smallest full moons. Pay attention to that last fact “compared with the smallest full moons.” In other words it was not THAT big, but I still thought it would be worth taking a step outside to see this supermoon and so at the last-minute, I joined a hike that a friend of mine was organizing. This meant that I had to pack everything the evening before and take it with me to work. I did not even have enough food in the refrigerator to make sandwiches, but once I have decided something, nothing can stop me!

So I packed everything and got up 6:20 to buy some sandwiches from the bakery and get to work early. At 4 a clock I left work and had to get to the other side of Munich, where we were to meet. One hour later we were on our way. Once again I was hiking with new people who I had never met before. This is almost becoming a habit :D. We were a group of five and had a really nice time.

This was also my first winter-night hike in a very long time. I think I did something like this back in Norway but in a much smaller scale.

2016-11-14 19.29.35.jpg
We were truly hiking in winter wonderland.

I must give my friend Anna all the credit for choosing the mountain and planning the hike. I know she put a lot of effort into finding the perfect mountain where we could see the moon. And perfect it was 🙂 .

The hike we did was the following:

Route: Parkplatz am Kesselberg (850 m) – Jochberg (1565 m) – Parkplatz am Kesselberg (850 m).

Time: Estimated time was 2 hours to the top, but we used closer to 1,5h.

Climb: 750m

The drive there from Munich took ca one and half hour. We honestly thought that we would be the only crazy people going hiking in the middle of the night just to see the moon, but when we got there, there were about 4 other cars already parked. Turns out we are not the only ones who had this idea!

We started from the parking lot with lots of layers and headlights. After 10 minutes the layers came off and after 30 minutes we turned off our headlights. It was so snowy and the moon was indeed very bright, so the headlights were not even needed. There was however a lot of fog, so we could not see the moon. At ca. 1400 meters (when the forest ended) we finally walked out of the fog and saw the moon.

2016-11-14-20-14-24
The magical moment as we exit the forest and see the moon.

So imagine this: you are standing in the snow, under the stars, under a bright moon, you look down into the valley and it is covered with thick soft fog. In the horizon you see all the mountaintops reaching out of the fog. It was amazing.

2016-11-14 20.23.51.jpg
The fog in the valley and the mountaintops rising up from it – Amazing.

Tonight, the full moon will appear larger than it has since the 1940s. The moon will appear around 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter compared with the smallest full moons. It will be worth taking a step outside to see this super supermoon.

What is a supermoon, and why does it happen?

The moon’s orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle. It’s an ellipse, a saucer shape that’s longer than it is wide. That means as the moon follows this orbit, it’s sometimes closer to the Earth and sometimes farther away. At perigee, the closest spot in its orbit to the Earth, it’s around 31,068 miles closer to Earth than at apogee, when it’s farthest away.

Meanwhile, we see different phases of the moon — full, crescent, waxing, and waning gibbous — depending on if the sun-facing side of the moon is facing the Earth.

These two phenomena don’t always match up, but when they do, astronomers call it a perigee full moon (a.k.a. super moon). This occurs about one in every 14 full moons, Jim Lattis, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin Madison, notes.

The relative difference in size between a full moon at perigee and apogee. It does appear bigger, but not dramatically so.
Sky and Telescope

To be sure, this isn’t an enormous difference compared with a regular full moon. Neil deGrasse Tyson has called the frenzy around supermoons overblown. “If you have a 16-inch pizza, would you call that a super pizza compared with a 15-inch pizza?” he said on theStarTalk radio show.

Whether or not you’re impressed, it’s a good enough excuse to go outside and marvel at the beauty of the cosmos. Sky and Telescope reports that the night of the 13th or 14th should make for good viewing (perigee will occur at 6:23 am EST on the 14th). But “[t]he tiny difference between the two evenings will be undetectable,” the magazine writes. You may want to try to catch the moon earlier, when it rises (for those of us on the East Coast, around 5:30 pm), because near the horizon, an optical illusion will make the moon appear absolutely huge. Like this:

Expedition 50 Supermoon

But why is this supermoon extra special?

The moon will appear slightly larger than it has in decades because of mere chance. The moon will reach fullness just three hours after perigee on November 14. Because perigee and the full moon are so closely timed, this full moon will be the largest (relative to our perspective on Earth) since 1948. The next-closest supermoon will be in 2034, as NASAreports.

Again, though, the differences in size between a really close supermoon and a typical one would be are pretty negligible. The full moon Monday will be just 30 miles closer to Earth than the last record in 1948, National Geographic reports. In astronomical terms, that’s tiny.

The moon will also be a bit brighter than usual — also due to the fact that it will be a bit closer to the Earth.

And if you miss it, fear not. We’re currently in a run of supermoons, and there will be another on December 14 (it won’t be quite as big). After that, we’ll have to wait until December 2017 for the next one.

Correction: This article originally misstated the how the moon’s phases occur. They do not occur due to the moon’s passing in and out of the Earth’s shadow. Rather, they’re due to thechanging angles between the sun, Earth, and moon.

Was this article helpful?

We were the only ones on the top and enjoyed our warm tea (me) and gipfel beer ( Anna) with amazing view.
On our way down we had some problems because it was very slippery. Actually we were counting who fell the most :D, but after a while we came out of count. There were couple of very funny falls :D. Luckily I had my (new 🙂 ) hiking poles with me and did not fall once!
Despite the falls, the hike itself was quite easy, but there was a lot of snow so gaiters and hiking poles were very useful as were proper hiking shoes. If you plan to do this hike or any other winter hike, invest in gaiters and bring always two pairs of gloves with you. Warm tea in a thermos is also a must for me 🙂
I would totally do this hike again during daytime. During day, you should see Walchensee, Kochelsee, Riegsee, Staffelsee and Starnberger See! Walchensee and Kochelsee being the closest biggest lakes. You can see a summer panorama here. 
The day after this hike I was a Zombie.. So tired, I got to bed at 1 AM and had to work the day after. That gave me ca. 5,5 hours of sleep. In other words, after-work-hiking is not something I would consider doing often :D.
Did you see the supermoon? Could you tell that it was bigger?

Don’t let others crush your hiking dreams!

On Fridays a typical conversation I have goes like this:

X: So what are your plans for the weekend?

Me: Actually I will go hiking.

X: (Rolling eyes) off course you are.

People don’t always understand why somebody would climb 1500 meters to the top of a mountain just to walk down again (and I don’t understand why people who take cable-car up a mountain :D). Many people seem to think that what I do is “Extreme”. For example my grandmother tells me every time we talk that I should not reach for the “extreme”, because I will only end up injured. For her extreme would be everything from running a marathon to doing a handstand. Sometimes it really feels like people just want me to sit still the whole day! And for what? So that I would not have pain in my knees when I turn 60? It is frustrating :(. 4047179af9cd819c31969c18e9324068

I have found something that makes me wake up early on a Sunday morning, that gives me this inner peace and inner drive at the same time. When I have been in the mountains I feel like my weekend is complete and when I don’t go to the mountains I feel like I am missing out. Why would I stop with something that is healthy and makes me happy? If you have found something like this, you should not give it up or restrict yourself. You should embrace it and develop it. Simply do more of what makes you happy!

You can not change your family, but you can choose who you hang out with. Therefore to balance all this negativity I try to find people who are as “extreme” as me or much worse :D. People who I can look at and think ah I would like to be like this. People who have done hikes that inspire. People who share my passion and understand by drive.

domoreofwhatmakesyouhappy

It is ok that not everybody understands the need to sand on top of a mountaintop (more mountains for me 😛 ). We are all different and have a right to like different things, but don’t let friends or family limit your goals and ambition. Do what feels rights for you and that makes you happy. If it is 7 days hiking in the alps, or climbing a difficult mountain so be it.