Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Switzerland: Scottish weather thwarts an attempt on Uri Rostock, 2928 m

By the lake in Zug. The Finsterarhorn is just visible in the distance to the left of the fountain
At the end of June I attended a training course in the Swiss town of Zug and was reminded what a marvellous, clean and orderly country Switzerland is.  One morning I observed a workman polishing a litter bin. My morning stroll along the lakeside gave views of the distant summits of the Bernese Oberland, the Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau. But the one that interested me most was the Finsterarhorn; a peak that got away a few years back when I went ski-touring in the Oberland.

Up in the hills above Zug.
Little did I know as I attended my course in 30C+ heat and under blue skies that another peak was destined to get away. Not being one to waste a free trip to Switzerland I had planned to climb Uri Rostock, a non-technical 3000m-ish peak, before returning home. My planing had been aided by a helpful Swiss correspondent. He had informed me on the 12th of June that the arrival of a weather front was forecast to coincide with the start of my trip on the evening of the 20th.

Incredibly the Swiss weather proved to be as reliable as their famously punctual railway system. After my course ended I changed from work clothes to outdoor clothes, shouldered my pack and arranged to have all my surplus equipment sent ahead to the airport by train. As I waited on the platform an ill wind blew up, heralding the arrival of the forecast front with its foul cargo of cloud and rain.

Isenthal










I got a view of Uri Rostock on Thursday evening when I set out from Isenthal but by the time I reached Muselalp the weather had closed in and the rain had  started. I stayed as the only guest in the hut and awoke to more cloud and rain. I gave up on Uri Rostock - The hut guardian said that there was still a lot of soft snow high up and didn't reckon that an ascent would be enjoyable, but it was the weather that really put me off. I decided to walk over the Sassigrat and round to Oberalp in the hope that the slightly lower mountain Chaiserstuel would be clear by the time I reached it. It wasn't and with the trail obscured by snow and poor visibility I ended up deviating from my intended route, following a cable way to an upper hut / milking shed. From there I saw a ridge above and ascended snow to reach it, then followed a narrow snow ridge with crumbling rock towers to 2400 m. I think I was on the ridge leading to Ruchstock, but as I had stood on my compass and broken it during my lunch break I couldn't confirm this suspicion for sure.

After a camp at Oberalp I walked out to St Jakob and the bus that would connect me to the airport and my flight home. All in all it was a satisfying trip even with the Scottish weather.





At the base of the 'cable car' to Musenalp with Uri Rostock behind. The assembled Swiss were there to transfer dairy cows to the high pastures. I had many questions that I wanted to ask them but unfortunately my German was not up to the task.

The hut and restaurant at Musenalp. Rain tempted me into abandoning my camping plans and I checked in as the only guest in a 75 person dorm. This was my last view of Uri Rostock.


Scottish weather


Waterfall 
The summit of my trip, 2400 m. 

Campspot at Oberalp. This was one of the highest pastures. Farmers were readying the nearby dairy for the arrival of cattle. Camping would not be an option with cows on the scene. For one thing the noise of their bells would be intolerable, and for another these animals, used to being handled during milking in byres, are fearless and would probably have wrecked or at leaf nibbled my tent.

Noisy cows









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