climbing the matterhorn…

…of the alpthal.

it’s perhaps a little known fact that if you plummet from a mountain face that you (or rather your body as you, hopefully, will not be aware to the outcome) arrive naked at the next (and, may i say, probably last) point of contact: the sheer wind force will tear off anything you are wearing, rucksack, fleece, pants, the works. thus, this morning i take an extra long shower and make sure my underwear is in good order — my wife of 20 years has decided that we assault the matterhorn of the alpthal, the [grosser mythen][].

[grosser mythen]:
our goal for today: the grosse mythen (the matterhorn of the alpthal)the weather is rather nice, cloudy with the occassional sun burst and we take the 10:35 post bus from einsiedeln station to the very end of the alpthal, to brunni cable car station. the grosser mythen rises imposing above us, or rather me, as mrs d is not that impressed (“we’ve had steeper stuff in [valais][]” — yeah, well…


the first bit from brunni up to holzegg is quite easy actually (no, we didn’t take the cable car, we did walk), just a nice hike up to the head end of the cable car line. it’s past holzegg that the fun really starts. my vertigo was roaring to kick in, i was determined to make it to the top, mrs d was revving her engines and roaring to sprint up the mountain. we decide that mrs d should just make a go for it and i’d take it slowly, concentrating on the path itself.

on the way up, vertigo and i start fighting one another phase border: old rock (red) layered above younger rock (gray) still ascending (vertigo still loosing the battle), view towards the souths

where the route starts climbing up the flank we find a sign: dogs to be taken on a leash, kids to be roped on, hiking shoes mandatory, only for skilled hikers when wet — the path itself though is rather well-maintained and easy to walk, it’s just the sheer drop of hundreds of meters that’s feeding my vertigo. criss-crossing the mountain side the path winds up and up. grosser mythen is very popular mountain and we are certainly not alone (so much for the solitude of the swiss alps ;-): frequently i have to “pull over” to let fellow walkers or walkers coming down pass.

half way up a couple with a black shepherd dog is coming down the path. the dog seems to like the altitude and exposed nature of the path as much as i do — it’s always staying close to the rock… “sensible dog”, i think and continue. most of the way is really not that bad, by concentrating on the path and trying to mask out the “void” i manage to get up. the last 500m though present a challenge: a path with nothing really on _both_ sides connects one part of the mountain to the other and then winds up an increasingly narrow ridge which eventually widens to accommodate the summit hut-cum-pub…

…i do manage that bit and finally reach the top of grosser mythen! pheeew. quite a walk for me. my vertigo tried to have a field day, but luckily didn’t succeed 🙂 the view from up top is breathtaking: a fantastic 360° panorama across the swiss alps!

last view towards the south...

after a soup and a beer we start the descend. mrs d, as always, has no problems with vertigo, i slowly shuffle my way past the nasty bits. once the ridge stuff has passed, i’m fine and manage to maintain a good speed down to holzegg. on the way down i pass a german walker with walking sticks mounted horizontally on his backpack and repeatedly stabbing his fellow walker; then a group of apparently ultra-conservative christian women in really long skirts pass up, one of them commenting of the “dangers of walking sticks” which is a bit funny, as the long skirts are probably more of a danger to themselves than any of the walking sticks.

from holzegg we walk via _zwischuet mythen_ (in-between mythen) back to brunni and take the post bus back to einsiedeln.

an adventurous but nevertheless very nice walk!

interested in the walk? here is the [googleearth KMZ file](

crawling around in dark places

back from a rather unusual evening (for us, that is) — we went on a night orientation hike organized by the [zindelspitz section of the swiss alpine club][sac] (of which we are card carrying members)! the hike started at the car park in innerthal in the lovely wäggital valley.

getting there was already an adventure in itself: we went by car (courtesy of mobility car sharing) from einsiedeln via sattelegg pass to vorderthal. that route is a seemingly endless succession of narrow curves, first climbing up to [sattelegg pass][] and then (even narrower curves) all the way down to vorderthal. exciting — especially the first time round! 🙂


we got to [innerthal][] almost right on time. each of the three categories — leisurely but reading skills required, classical orientation run, GPS run — had two groups of two starting. mrs d went for the leisure categories, i went (yes, you guessed it) for the GPS one. after initial confusion (my partner had left his reading glasses at home and mistook the compass reading for the distance), we managed to get out of the parking lot 😀 and were on our way to the first waypoint. the whole route was a cleverly arranged sequence of navigating to waypoints, taking coordinates from the map, backtracking on tracks, and following routes.[^1]

[^1]: the GPS course was designed by none other than our renown alpine consultant, mr r!

navigating via GPS to waypoints in the dark in unknown terrain — rather a challenge, but also quite a lot of fun! aside from from being paired with one of the formidable chaps who do the jungfrau marathon (gasp!), aside from falling into one of those cow-made holes and just plain slipping down a wood enclosed burn (luckily my rucksack cushioned my back!) we managed to do the [entire course][nol] — and won the first prize in the GPS category (a voucher for a night’s stay at the [sardona hut][])!

afterwards we had a rather nice dinner in a local ski hut followed by chatting and swapping “war stories” 🙂

when we leave innerthal it’s about 0:30 and it has started to snow! we probably break the record for the slowest drive from vorderthal via [sattelegg pass][] back to einsiedeln: unknown road, snow blowing against the windscreen.

all in all a very exciting and fun night! recommendable 🙂

[sardona hut]:
[sattelegg pass]:

* interested in the route: KMZ file

compline at the abbey church

felt like visiting [compline][] at the [abbey church][] tonight. unusually for me i managed to arrive five minutes early. usually (well, judging by the previous three times we had visited the abbey church — hardly statistically significant) the church is a rather quiet place — and the monks encourage that, not surprisingly, and have signs in several languages adhorting the public to keep it a quiet place for prayer and contemplation…


…when i entered tonight i at first thought there was some machinery at work. looking around i realized that a group of female pilgrims was loudly praying the _[ave maria][]_ to the [lady of the hermits aka the black madonna][lady] — over and over again. i was wondering whether they’d stop for the compline or whether they’d keep chanting: they did stop on the last stroke of the abbey bell!

the compline itself was very good and helped me focus on god, pass the day and what had happened back into his hands.

to be repeated 🙂

[abbey church]:
[ave maria]:

goodbye adliswil! hi there einsiedeln!

the move is completed! we’re now living in our new apartment for two weeks and — aside from teething problems with the electrical wiring — everything went fairly well! we’ve returned the keys and responsibility of our old apartment in adliswil back to our former landlord and have, thus, concluded the _adliswil chapter._

i’ve started getting up early! leaving the house at 6:50 to catch the 7:00 train to [wädenswil][], then the 7:28 train to [thalwil][] and the 7:40 to [rüschlikon][] — and about 10min up the hill to the lab 🙂 unusual feeling to be among the first in the office 😀


coincidentally, out here in the hinterland of switzerland, the rhythm of live is a bit different from live in the zurich suburbs: from 22:00 to 5:00 in the morning einsiedeln has a traffic curfew in place for most of the town! one can get permits to drive during the curfew (and as a resident it’s no problem at all) but only “to drive directly to or from home on the shortest route possible” — so, no idle roaming about or late night sightseeing tours of the town! you’ve been warned! 🙂 also, i’ve the suspicion that at midnight they lock up the valley…

we’ve both taken a number of pictures — unfortunately, the USB cable for the camera has so far not made an appearance in our humble abode…stay tuned 🙂