Thursday, July 16, 2015

Peak III

I've been up even more mountains lately.

Hoher Freschen, take 3. This time, in contrast to last time, it was a lovely, sunny day (less snow than expected for once) and we showed Maddie, Isabella, Thibaut & Isa the impressive ridge line and could enjoy the view that we didn't get to see last time. Both Maddie and Isabella wrote lovely accounts of this hike too, see them here and here.

My brother visited a few weeks ago and one morning we walked up Bocksberg. It was overcast in town but we had blue skies above the low-hanging clouds. It was really nice to spend time with my brother and show him my life here.

About a month ago I went on the craziest hike I've ever done, Zitterklapfen. Even though it isn't particularly high for this part of the world (around 2400m), it's know as the hardest mountain to hike up in the Bregenzerwald (fitting for such a scary-sounding name). The hike started quite tame but after a few hours (and steep sections) we came across a 65+, very experienced-looking Austrian who told us (in thick dialect) to turn back before anything happens. We told him we'd turn back if it gets too bad, he shrugged, mumbled something along the lines of "your funeral" and kept going down. True, we didn't have ropes or poles or spikes and Stefan was in running shoes and jeans, but how bad could it be if some old Austrian man had already been up there that day?
...more snow than expected. Once we scrambled up a long stretch of steep, loose stones we had to cross a very long and steep snow field. Once finally on the other side, there was a lot of (unsecured) climbing, the kind of thing I thought you might need climbing equipment for, but in the end we made it to the top. The tricky bit was descending the way we came, and we (half) jokingly considered calling a rescue helicopter. The rock climbing down was okay, but once we made it back to the snowfield the snow had become considerably slipperier in the sun. Not knowing much about avalanches, we decided to go one at a time to be safe. As I was walking across, last in line, I suddenly slipped and slid few metres down on my stomach. Luckily I could dig my boot in the snow enough to eventually stop falling and, very shaken, made my way back to the stones.

My dear housemate, (the German) Anna, left 2 weeks ago. On her last week here she had the day off so we drove with Maddie and Thibaut into Brandertal to conquer Schesaplana. First we hiked up to the amazingly blue L├╝nersee, then further up to Totalph├╝tte for a drink, and onwards through the snow to the 2965m high peak sitting on the border of Switzerland and Austria. Apart from a risky climb through vertical snow just before the peak, it was a really lovely, stress-free hike with even lovelier people. I'm already missing Anna a lot, it was so nice to live with someone who I had so much in common with.

Sometimes I think I’ve gotten better at saying goodbye and then there are weeks like the past few where I get knots in my stomach before even meeting with the person to be farewelled. People whose smell you’ve gotten used to, who you know when to talk to and when to have silence, whose mood you can sense before they say a word. All my exchange friends have now left town and it'll be pretty quiet until the next group come mid-August. This time I’m the one who’s staying and I've gotten a taste of what it feels like for the people back home when I leave.