After a poor 2019/2020 season, the time for most ski tours has come to an end far too quickly. After the past few months in the light of the Corona crisis, we spent a lot of time on small and unknown trails and hikes around the centre of our lives in the Central Swiss Pre-Alps. Even though ski tours are possible again, we somehow lost our motivation for this season in the last weeks. But we can still live from the few nice tours we did together at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile we can laugh again about the following, unfortunately a bit messed up winter bivouac tour up to almost the Zapporthorn – and that is the most important thing! 😂
Oh, my goodness, that was a close shave! While trying to shoulder my backpack, I am pulled two steps backwards and almost fall backwards into the trunk. 14 kilos weigh heavily on my back. But if I want to spend the upcoming night warm and fluffy on the mountain, I have to start towing.
With sack, pack and touring skis, but unfortunately without any snow at all, our Mini-Hide-Away adventure begins at the rest area San Bernardino South. Beside the monster backpacks we also shoulder the skis until we can finally let the boards go under our feet after a short walk to the snowy pass road of San Bernardino.
Packed with great stuff...
This is how snails that carry their entire house on their backs must feel. Even though we packed our belongings with great care and saved weight in every little corner, my “little house” still feels too heavy. Such a winter bivouac is just not a gift – so let’s crawl!
Cheshire cat on the way at San Bernardino
At a snail’s pace we push ourselves up the snow-covered road, while the afternoon sun heats us up additionally. About an hour later and a good 400 meters higher we venture into the terrain and look for an inconspicuous place for our tent. The first long shadows of the surrounding mountains are already stretching their fingers towards us. We walk through an alternating bath of temperatures and guess what to expect when the warming rays disappear completely behind the peaks in a short time.
Space is in the smallest hut
As soon as the tent is standing, it slowly gets dark. Lights in the valley, stars in the sky, a thousand colours and incredible silence. Orange, pink, purple – until at the end everything turns into a darkening blue. Pure amazement – until the stomachs growl. Cold makes you hungry. A relaxing feeling spreads as we hold a steaming pot of hot noodles in our freezing hands. Finally something warm in our stomachs. After that we quickly prepare everything for tomorrow morning, then manoeuvre ourselves completely frozen into our cuddly sleeping bags.
Shadow, cold, icy silence - and yet somehow beautiful!
Good night? Not for me. Against my habit of “lying down, falling asleep and waking up in the morning” I don’t get a wink of sleep. I listen to the wind that rattles on the tent poles – almost all night and accordingly I feel tired the next morning. With Nutella bread and tea Falko lures me then, nevertheless, from the warm tent in the warm wind (yuck!). The hairdryer has spread a high cloud cover over us and thus causes bad light conditions and isolated raindrops. First doubts come up. Rather directly down into the valley or at least another hour back into the sleeping bag? Nope. With a greatly reduced backpack weight and slightly dampened motivation we start towards Zapporthorn.
Breakfast, wind, rain. 😞 Grey sky, grey mood.
Wet snow, warm Foehn wind and a sleepy marina – bad combination. The long ascent is tough for me and the steep terrain below the ski depot is not exactly (and even less so today) my comfort zone. My view upwards meets a cloudy peak of the Zapporthorn and a wide couloir for the access. With ice axe and crampons it would certainly be possible. But for me? Now and today? No way! I am really served, fear and tiredness are stronger than my desire for the summit. Of course, the reversal of this decision causes the already strained good mood barometer to sink to the bottomless depths for both of us.
But that’s not all: in the end Falko will have a defeat. When removing the skins (they are brand new and used for the first time today), half of the glue remains on the ski base. For today’ is ready funny! 😕
Ready funny. Accepting it's not meant to be today.
How much we wish at this moment that we had stayed in our comfortable sleeping bags in the morning and simply enjoyed our first winter bivouac together.
How we managed the descent to the bivouac without screaming in desperation is still a mystery to me. 😉 The snow was so bad underground (soaking wet and strongly braking) and the thighs were so rocket-like burning that it was almost unbearable. This is something we’ve somehow already seen this winter a lot… Back at the bivouac we turn into pack mules again and slide carefully back onto the pass road. We even manage the last meters of altitude without any incidents.
We have certainly already gone on tours where we had more luck than here at the Zapporthorn. Sometimes it’s just not meant to be and then we have to accept that. At least we can live on the memories of a wonderful sunset over the Misox – and the Zapporthorn is just waiting a little bit for its ascent. It’s a deal!