One day hikes from Innsbruck – Weißstein and Rosskogel

Last weekend I found myself in Innsbruck, trying to find a hike or two which I could easily do with limited planning. My original plan was to do a part of the Stubaitaler Höhenweg, but bad weather forced us to improvise and change our plans at the last minute. So on the bus from Munich to Innsbruck I was desperately searching for some nice one-day hikes from Innsbruck. One would think that finding a nice hike from Innsbruck should be really easy, but take into consideration that I had to rely on public transport, that the hiking season was ending which meant that many of the hiking buses did not go anymore and that I was not just looking for a hike, but for a reasonably high peak, without any cable car (read tourists), and which was doable in one day..Yes so it turned out to be quite difficult.

After a lot of searching and even considering to just give up and go home, we landed on Weißstein 2640m and Rosskogel 2646m.

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We took the bus from Innsbruck to Gries im Sellrain. Here there was a small shop where we could get everything we needed for a lunch pack. After shopping we had some trouble finding out where the trail started as there were no sig

ns to see. So here is a tip: go behind the shop and pass the church and you will spot the yellow signs. The path up is through a quite steep, but beautiful forest path. 

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Eventually we ended up on a yellow/orange plain. The sun was warm and autumn golden colors shined. This is how autumn is supposed to be.

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The area has a nice small river and there is a possibility to fill a water bottle both on 1700 meters and on 2000 meters.

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Can you spot the Weißstein peak cross?

From the plain we could also spot both peaks. We decided to do Weißstein first and then Rosskogel, but one could also go directly to Rosskogel. The way up to Weißstein went first pass some avalanche protecting yards? Not sure how these things are called.

Once we were pass those we got a dramatic and mysterious view to the peak. We met a couple who had turned around because they didn’t expect there to be so mu

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ch scrambling. And indeed the sign before the last ascent to the peak warned us that it would be a very difficult climb so I guess they were scared that it 

was too much. We on the other hand did not let us scare off, but we had to do some real scrambling before we got to enjoy the view from the peak. But it was not exposed so I did not feel unsafe at any point. The way down on the other side of the peak (for going to Rosskogel) had one really long climb, but that was in a small mountain crack and not exposed. The important point is that there are not many iron ropes or ladders, it’s more of a natural experience 😉

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After a long beak, all alone on Weißstein we went on to Rosskogel. I think we used no more than 30 minutes to get from one peak to the other.

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The view to Weißstein from Rosskogel

On Rosskogel we had some more snacks and then started the descent. The way down was really nice to begin with, once again the autumn showed itself from it’s best side.

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But then we made the mistake to head down to Sellrain instead of Gries. DO NOT DO THAT! What looked like a nice path turned into a long mountain road of zigzags and in the end there were no signs so we got lost. We decided to just follow the road down to the valley and then ask for directions. In the valley it became clear that we had walked pass Sellrain. The guy we asked told us that the next bus stop was 20 minutes walk away, but when I looked at the direction he showed us I was sure that it was much longer and we had only 1 hour to the last bus back to Innsbruck. So in the end we decided to go down to the valley instead of following the directions given to us and to stop a car and ask for directions for the closest bus stop. The driver was so nice and drove us to the bus stop. We could also have made it there by walking as it was not so far, but when you don’t know where the buss stop is getting there takes longer time 😉 Moral of the story is that do not try to be too adventurous, sometimes taking the same path up as down is the best option, especially when you have a bus to catch 😉

The adventure ended well and we made it back to Innsbruck with the last buss. Now the question was what we would do the next day. We started looking at possible hikes again and I found the options below, which are now on my to-do list, as we had to cancel our hiking plans the next day due to bad weather and decided to head back to Munich. One day hikes from Innsbruck on my list:

 

Five peak challenge from Axamer Lizum until Hochtennspitze

This is a five peak challenge via Ampferstein and Marchreisenspitze or you could even make it a six peak challenge, when you add Nockspitze to it. My plan was not to do Nockspitze as I think it is a very popular peak and I prefer to enjoy my peaks alone ;). All in all this is a would be 1570 meters climb up and 1988 meters down. I estimate it to take 7-8 hours. There is a bus to Axamer Lizum from Innsbruck.

Sulzkogel – 3016m

I wanted to do this one when I was in Innsbruck, but unfortunately the bus to Kühtai stops going mid of October so there was no way for us to get there. But the peak is on my list now as it is an easy 3000m mountain. It is just a 1000m climb and a 6h hike up and down.

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There are definitely many other cool peaks in the area and many of them you can also get to without a car, but it takes some planning. The two mentioned are definitely on my list for my next Innsbruck visit 🙂 But the Stubaitaler Höhenweg, and the Innsbrucker Klettersteig will also remain on my list for next year.

 

Hiking in China – Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge is a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River. It is located 60 kilometers (37 mi) north of Lijiang City, Yunnan in southwestern China. According to Wikipedia the maximum depth of the canyon is 3,790 meters (12,434 feet) from river to mountain peak. The gorge is about 15 kilometers long, and the hike is doable in one day, but I do not recommend it. The name of the canyon comes from a legend which says that in order to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point (still 25 meters (82 ft) wide). Of course we wanted to see if a jump like this would be possible 😀

We started out from Lijiang with a local bus. The hostels in the city all help you to book tickets and show you where the bus goes from. If I remember correctly the price was around 50 yuan (45 there, 55 back). The price for entering the valley itself was 60 yuan.

In Lijiang we were discouraged to do this hike as the weather prognosis said it would rain for the next three days. This was also perhaps the reason for there being so little other hikers on the trail. Despite the weather forecast, we decided to go, after all we had packed our rain clothes with us and a little rain has never killed anyone.

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The best available map of the trail.

We arrived to Qiaotou where the trail starts around 10 o’clock. The beginning of the trail was really not well-marked. Our strategy was just to go to the right and avoid all the roads that turned left. At one point we must have had looked pretty confused or uncertain, as a truck driver passing by pointed out the correct direction for us. The trail started on a asphalt road between the houses in the small village. Before we even got away from the asphalt road, we had changed clothes five times! On with rain clothes, off with rain clothes, on with jacket, off with jacket, on with rain clothes again…. It did rain, but not really much and as it was warm climbing upwards in rain clothes was just not comfortable. After an hour we packed away our rain clothes and used regular clothes. Which actually worked really well, except in a rainsower lasting for 30 minutes later in the day. At times it was even warm enough for shorts, but not wanting to change clothes yet again we just went on in long trousers. At the end of the asphalt road and before the huge construction site, there was a house where we could buy some drinks and water and even refill our thermos with hot water for free. The last part we only knew because Elias was able to read the chinese sign that said so. It was very convenient, since we had instant noodles with us for lunch. The woman in the house also wanted to sell us bamboo sticks for walking. It is slippery she said. We did not buy any and did not regret it afterwards.

The real trail started right after the house. It was a steep dirt trail, at the end of it there was a little sitting place with a roof, that we chose for our first lunch/breakfast. At this point we were actually hoping that we had done the climb and that the path would even out, but we were wrong. The path kept going upwards and it was hard to spot it at times. Again when we were about to go in the wrong direction a local mushroom/herbs picker pointed us to the right direction. On the three-hour path to Nixi village, I could count 4 stands where we could buy snickers, water, fruit and even local weed!! We disappointed most of the sellers, since we were had enough food and water with us.

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On top of the first hill ready for lunch

All in all the first 3 hours of the trail I was really disappointed. I tried to not show it, but I know Elias felt the same. One thing was that we were not prepared for such steep climb, but that was not the main issue. The problem was the huge construction down in the valley that completely destroyed the view. I am not 100% sure what they were building, but it looked like two tunnels for trains, and a bridge over the river to connect them. Because of this it was not quiet, and the river was all brown. Considering that this canyon is supposed to be in world heritage list, I could not understand why they would destroy it just for better train connections (and more tourists).

The trail from Qiaotou to Naxi village was as following: We climbed a lot of high meters, it was quite steep, and we kept seeing the construction site and the destruction of nature in the valley. More or less the moment we got up, the trail started to go downwards again and ending up in the Naxi village. From the village one needs to climb all these high meters up once again. So therefore if I would do it again, I would start the hike from Naxi village (There were actually some Russian girls doing that). Luckily after the Naxi village we could not see the construction anymore, only very tall and steep mountains on the other side of the canyon, hence our mood got much better.

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View to the Naxi Village

The Naxi village itself was not really something special, it is a village not a touristic site. I do not know what exactly I was expecting, but I guess it is nice that it is authentic and not glorified for tourists. From the Naxi village one has to climb the 28 turns. We did not count but, it was a long and steep climb. There were of course several places where you could buy food and drinks, as before. After the 28 turns we did some downhill hiking again and ended up in a the Teahorse guesthouse.

Here we ordered some proper lunch which was chinese noodles with vegetables and tea. We also met a couple from Belgium who were doing the same hike and who were planning to travel for three years!! For me that sounds quite crazy. I guess I like being home too much. The couple from Belgium decided to spend the night in the guesthouse. We were a little tempted to do the same, but it was only four o’ clock, and too early to end the day. We estimated it to be another two hours the Half Way Inn guesthouse and decided to go on. The path to Half Way Inn from the Teahorse guesthouse was very well marked and easy to follow. It was also the prettiest part of the hike, I would say. Now we were finally just walking on the side of the canyon, not climbing upwards and could enjoy the views in front of us! Soon after the Teahorse guesthouse we walked past a temple, sadly it was closed.

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It was cloudy the whole first day, after several hours finally the mountains showed themselves!

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At the next village we were not sure how to find the Half Way Inn guesthouse. There we walked past several guesthouses and already started to consider entering one, just because it also looked quite nice but luckily we didn’t. After passing five or six guesthouses we saw the Half Way In. I still remember the view and the excitement I felt when I entered it. This is by far the nicest mountain hut I have stayed in! The owner spoke perfect English and told me that he had run the guesthouse for 25 years. When I told him that I am Estonian, he said that I was in fact the first Estonian staying in Half Way In. We took a bed in dormitory and were not expecting much, as it was 45 Yuan per person (The most expensive room was 250 yuan). But this is how the dorm looked which we btw. had all to ourselves!!

If anybody has stayed in a dorm with better view, please let me know where 😀 There was a trick to get that dorm thought. We specifically asked if they had a dorm. If you don’t ask, they will not tell you that they also have a dorm (as long as they still have other rooms left). I noticed this when other hikes were checking in and I guess this was the reason for why we were the only ones in that dorm.

After settling in we went to the roof terrace to read and enjoy the view. It was way too easy to daydream and forget the time on those rocking chairs facing the huge mountain ridge right over the canyon.

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Then we were told that the kitchen closes at eight and that we had to order dinner if we wanted some. We moved down to the open courtyard in the center of the guesthouse and ordered some dinner. While sitting there enjoying my tea and food I really started to daydream. I could imagine myself living in that place for a year, perhaps writing a book or something. I could help out in the kitchen and write during evenings. With a room cost of 5 euros a day, that would be much cheaper than living in Munich!!

We sat outside until it turned dark. Back in the dorm I changed my head position, so that I would wake up to the mountain view and left the curtains open. I could not have been happier, even the beads in Half Way Inn were soft. (Or at least softer that what is normal in China).

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View from Half Way Inn Guesthouse

We woke up at 7 so that we could have a lot of time to down in the gorge. I had very good banana pancake for breakfast (that is Chinese pancakes, not crepes). The trail from Half Way Inn was at times very narrow, but we did not mind that at all. We could now see all the way down to the gorge and the river on the bottom of it. We also walked pass several small mountain rivers and waterfalls.

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This is how narrow the trail got – we loved it!

The hike down to Tina’s Guesthouse took us about 3 hours (with a lot of picture breaks). Down in the gorge we had to exchange our bus ticket from Half Way In to the one from Tina’s guesthouse. There is only one bus from Tina’s to Lijiang which leaves at 3.30. It is a strange inconvenient system. After exchanging the tickets, we took the free shuttle bus to the place where one could go down to the gorge and the river.  

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Tina’s Guesthouse, not even comparable with Half Way Inn

Getting of the shuttle bus it turned out you had to pay 15 yuan to enter the trail down to the gorge (yes, even when you had already paid 60 yuan just to enter the gorge itself). We decided to take another path which we drove past, just because I do not appreciate this kind of trickery! 😦

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View of the gorge

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I think the best trail would have been not after the bridge from Tina’s Guesthouse but before it, but I could only see people walking there when we were already down in the gorge. Another disappointing thing was that the paths in the gorge were not connected, so we  only used 1 hour on our gorge tour and then had still 5 hours until the bus left. I even tried to ask if there were more buses, but apparently there was only one. Therefore, if I would do it again I would not rush from the Half Way In Guesthouse to Tina’s Guesthouse. The trail between these guesthouses is very scenic and I would just take my time, perhaps sleep in a little and enjoy a long breakfast in Half Way In. There are tourists who just take a bus to the Tina’s Guesthouse in the morning, walk the gorge and then go back. I do not know what they use their time on, because there is not enough to do or see in that gorge for 6 hours. Luckily we had some books with us so we were not bored to death before finally the bus came. The ride back to Lijiang was on very bad roads in a small bus. Apparently they want to avoid the highway in order to avoid to pay for it. So a set of podcasts saved me on this bus ride. There was also a possibility to take a bus from Tina’s Guesthouse to Shangri-la, and we probably could have had our luggage transported to Tina’s by the bus, but as we left parts of our luggage behind in Lijiang, we needed to get back to Lijiang.

This was our second “real” hike in China. There were no stairs and no guides! Just beautiful nature. During our stay we also hiked in Four Sisters Mountains, which you can read about here.

Hiking Mount Siguniang – The Four Sisters Mountain

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 😀

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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.

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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!

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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 🙂

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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!

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Oh so happy, I could see the peak!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Almost on the top, but ehh where is it?
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Found it – happy couple on their first 5000m mountain top.
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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.

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When you end up on the wrong peak because you spotted a shortcut.

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You stand on the feet of the mountains and you spot an awesome peak. You are sure that this is the one you have planned to hike. After all, it matches with the descriptions or at least you make it match, because it looks so awesome and it is in the right direction 😀 Happy and ignorant you set of to the peak. It gets even better, you spot a shortcut! So you see the peak, you see a possible shortcut and you want to beat the guy in jeans in front of you to the peak! Off course you are going to take the steeper but faster shortcut!

I guess you by now have figured out where this story ends up. So the guy in jeans was actually very clever in following the path, because then he saw that the peak we were heading to was not the right one.

Ending up on a wrong peak, not too bad you say. Well, the problem was not actually that it was the wrong peak, but that the shortcut that we had taken did not let us climb the peak:(  To our defense, it would have been possible during summer. There was even a path to the peak, the problem was the snow. Because you see, what we did not know was that the path we had chosen had too much now on it for safe winter hiking. Now you are thinking how stupid is it possible to be right? Hiking on paths that are not suitable for winter hiking, during winter… No we are not that stupid, it is allays safety first so we turned around when we saw that the path was not safe. Cause  you know it is never to late to turn around.. But this makes this the third hike in a row where I do not make it to the peak!!! Be it the right one or the wrong one 😛 .

Had we followed that guy who hikes in jeans during winter (?!), we had seen the next sign that would have made it clear that we were heading to the wrong peak. We would perhaps also had seen the “normal” path to the (wrong) peak and who knows, perhaps we could have made it to the peak following that path, since that one did not cross a ridge.

There are several morals to this story:

  1. If somethings seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Do not underestimate people who hike in jeans.
  3. Do not get too carried away and forget to check you path with a map, even when you think you are heading in the right direction and you think you see your peak.

Nevertheless, I still consider this as a fun hiking experience and it was really exploring. Belive it or not, it can also be fun getting of the paths and playing around in the snow in the mountains 🙂 Would I do it again?.. no, because I like to make it to the peak!

PS. So the peak we wanted to do was called Lacherspitze (1 724 m)This would have been an easy winter hike of ca. 1000m high meters. The peak we almost did is called Kesselwand (1721m) I would go back for this one, since it did look awesome. Also there seemed to be good ski touring possibilities for beginners in that area so maybe I will go back and try out that too.

Some moments from our exploring:

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True exploring, can you see the excitement in Elias’s face?
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At the end of our shortcut there was a hole in the mountain
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I told you the shortcut was steep 😀

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Btw this weekend was the dav’s alpinflohmarkt and this was what I came back with. No crampons and no ice axe as you can see, but I got something for both summer and winter hiking 🙂

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I will go hiking again tomorrow, and try out some of the stuff I got 🙂

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Already looking for the next peak..

Winter hiking and why I need to buy crampons.

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March as been very busy for me and there has been almost no time for hiking, except for couple of weeks back when we went for a small winter hike. The only requirement this time was to find a hike with an open hut. Kampenwand 1669m was perfect.

Ascent: 1100 hm

Time: ca. 3h up and ca. 2:00h down.

Getting there: Meridian to Prien am Chiemsee (direction Kufstein), then change to RB to Aschau. NB! There are trains only every two hours.

Equipment: You definitely need the following equipment for a successful winter hike:

  • good cloves, water resistant.
  • walking poles
  • thermos
  • sitting pad
  • buff
  • gaiters
  • good waterproof hiking boots and warm clothes.

And now I need to add crampons on the list, because this was the first time I had to turn around because I did not have crampons:( That sucked so much! I was like 100hm from the peak. I could see it, but it got so icy that I did not consider it responsible to even try. It is always safety first! Turning around is not an easy decision to make, not when you really want to get to the peak, but there is brave and there is stupid. Going on without crampons would have been stupid. So we were a group of 5 and 2 of us ( the ones who had crampons) made it to the top. Nevertheless, it was a nice hike. It is always nice to be in the mountains, even when you do not make it to the peak and this experience just made me realize that I need to buy crampons. Perhaps I find some used ones from the upcoming alpin Flohmarkt or just order some online. recommendations are welcome 😉

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As you can see, turning around made sense, when having no crampons.
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This was more or less the place where we decided to turn around.

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I hope to get to do couple of more winter adventures before the spring comes to Bavaria, but let’s see. This weekend I will be off to Barcelona, so no hiking but a lot of tapas 🙂

My first snowshoe hike + camping in the mountains during winter.

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After the less successful ski-touring trip couple of weeks back I needed a successful adventure! I just felt the itch for doing something new more and more. Now it was the time. I knew right a way what I wanted to do. I have been thinking about sleeping in the mountains during winter for some time now, but somehow we have kept it to rather simple day hikes instead. Considering that last winter we did not even hike and considered winter just a skiing season we have really moved our limits. I have now realized that It is very nice to hike in the winter and it is a complete different experience from any other time of the year.

The perhaps hardest part of planning this hike was finding a perfect destination. We needed a peak that was accessible with public transport, that was not too crowded, that we had not hiked before and that was “hard” enough for a long day hike. Another thing we needed to consider was the avalanche risk and we needed a destination where it was easy to rent snowshoes (We were to late to rent something from DAV in Munich, but if you plan a head this is the best and cheapest option). Finding a such a destination was not easy. I was about to give up actually, but luckily Elias took over and found the perfect destination for our adventure – Feldernkopf 2071m.

This was a hike of firsts – Made and Elias doing stuff they have not done before. 

  • This was the first time I camp outside during winter
  • This was the first time I hike with snowshoes
  • This was the first time I use a stow to make pancakes
  • This was the first time I put up a tent on snow

All in all we learned so much during this adventure: 

  1. Snowshoes are not so awesome for hiking steaper hikes (perfect for less steep hikes), but they are awesome to go down hill with.
  2. Plan two hours for setting up the camp. We used 1 but it would have been nice to have one more hour just for looking at the sunset.
  3. Store your shoes inside the tent not outside in a bag.
  4. Store all your food inside the tent so it will not freeze during the night.
  5. Take your time when making the flat area for the tent on the snow. The more time you use the better you will sleep 😉
  6. Secure the inner tent the most, otherwise it will start gliding down the hill (We learned that the hard way).
  7. Take extra pars of socks with you, at least 2 extra pars for the night (You need the grandma stuff)!
  8. If it is cold sleep with cloves on, I did not do that but next time I will so that you have more flexibility when choosing  a sleeping position.
  9. Thermos is nice to have, even when you plan to boil water, so you can store the warm water you boil. When it is could outside the water gets cold faster than you think.
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what a feeling.
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View from the top around 4PM
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This is where we decided to camp, it was a little too windy on the top
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Here I try to mark the place for the tent.

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One thing to think about before you head out to a winter hike is that it is not always easy to find the path. The regular markings were almost never visible, but luckily we were able to follow the skitourng tracks. It is also a good idea to find a hike were you can see the peak from the beginning so that it is easier to orientate, or even better, take a GPS with you.

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Final break, ca. 200m still to climb

The hike was “only” 900 m climb. This was yet another thing we discovered 900 m climb in snow can not be compared to 900 m climb during summer. Yes we had quite heavy bags with us but we needed 6 hours to climb that 900m. In other words we were glad we had the whole day.

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We had quite big bags with us

 

When it comes to food the possibilities with a stow are endless, but my advise is to keep it simple. It may be cold on the top, you may be hungry and tired so you should plan to make something easy and fast. The easiest thing is to buy some of the dry food meant for hiking, but if you feel more adventurous then that, you could make dinner at home and just warm it up on the stow. We had something like chilli con crane with us and simply heated it. We even had homemade guacamole and cheese with us 🙂img_20170211_173642

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Preparation can not be underestimated, here Elias tries out making pancakes at home.

 

For breakfast we made pancakes with apple jam. (Elias wanted bacon but we never got so far as frying bacon. The pancakes would have gotten cold in the mean time so we dropped that). In addition to this we had tea and coffee with us and some fruit, homemade granola bars, sandwedges for the lunch and a chocolate. It was more than enough food and we ended up bringing some of it back home.

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Clothes:

I already mentioned extra socks, we also had extra change of clothes for seeping. The moral here is that more is better. You can never quite know how cold it will get during the night and the worst thing I know is to freeze, so have more clothes with you that you think you will need and prioritize wool and layers.

All in all this truly was an adventure. We learned a lot and experienced a lot. It was heavy and we needed to push ourselves mentally. But it was sooo nice to have dinner and watch the sunset. And to wake up and make pancakes and look at the mountains. We were also lucky with the weather so the last 300 height meters we had amazing views.

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Sunset ❤

My first ski touring experience

For several years I have been thinking that I want to start with ski touring. For three years to e exact. This weekend we finally realized our dreams – well it was not quite according to what we had dreamed but at least we got out there.

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Picture by Štěpán Jirka

So why ski touring? Couple of years back we realized that during the winter season we are quite inactive. Yes, we went skiing couple of times, but you really get bored with riding the same slopes after couple of days and its also quite expensive sport. Another thing is that it does not provide the freedom that I usually feel while hiking. I think anybody who as been to a ski resort knows that you are no exactly alone in the mountains while there. All in all I think it is nice, but my husband and I wanted to try out ski touring so that we could have more freedom, get away from the people and closer to the mountains also during the winter season.

In order to go from dreams to action, we rented the equipment from DAV and found an “easy” tour that we could try out. I was a little anxious before the tour because we have no avalanche training. I know that many of you know think safety first – what were you thinking. BUT to my defense, I did try to sing up for avalanche course for ski touring, but it turned out that some ski touring experience was a prerequisite. How you should get one before the other, I wondered? I guess the way we ended up doing it. You just do some ski touring without avalanche training. Not the ideal scenario, but I decided that after three years I just can’t use more years on finding somebody who already knows this sport and is willing to let me tag along.

Long story short we found a tour marked “easy” in one of the ski touring books, rented skies from DAV, followed the avalanche reports and were ready for a real adventure. We didn’t even know how to use touring bindings, but luckily you can learn a lot from watching YouTube 🙂 .

The tour went to Fockenstein (1564m). We had to do a 900m climb and were supposed to use two and half hours to the top, but in the end we used three and half hours. Nevertheless, the trip up was actually quite as expected. I guess I had mentally prepared myself that it will be supper heavy and the reality was not as heavy as I had thought. It is amazing how you can walk up using skins and not even slightly glide backwards! We also had super nice weather so the way up was really nice.

After a while I started worrying about the snow conditions. Since it was warm the snow was very wet and I was afraid that on the way down, when temperature was decreasing it would be very slippery and icy. Another thing that worried me was that there was not that much snow on the top and that my rented skis were too long for me. I tried not to think about that too much on the way up but on the way down all my fears became a reality.

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Picture by Štěpán Jirka

First of all I must admit that I am not the best skier, even on slopes. So I did not have the best confidence in myself. The fact that my touring skis were longer and wider than my regular skis did not help. Therefore there was one place where I actually took of my skies and walked 😦 😦 . At that point I was thinking that my overall goals was to not get insured and when I was standing there I was not sure that I would not get insured when trying to ski down. So I did not. Off course this is a defeat that strikes me hard. Trying to do something that you have dreamed of for so long and then failing so hard, makes me so sad. I would almost say depressed. Because it is so easy to just generalize this defeat to every other dream I have regarding outdoors. I know that it is not how I should think, but I am not going to lie and tell you that I sit with just positive thoughts after this experience. Yes, I try to focus on the positive – I made it down without insuring myself or destroying the skis, It was easier than expected to go up and I am one more experience wiser. I also know that one can not expect to be good at something the first time you try, but I was expecting to be able to ski down the whole way even if very slowly. Therefore I still feel defeated and unmotivated.

I now need to decide what I will do next. Should I say OK ski touring is not for me or should I make a plan on how to get better?? I don’t know yet. I think I will try it once more before I decide. With shorter skis 🙂 .

Anyways, here are some pictures from the trip, as I said the way up was a really nice experience.

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Picture by Štěpán Jirka
 

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