Monday, 20 February 2012

Sunday's snowshoeing

On Sunday we tried snowshoeing for the 3rd time.  The meeting point was St Antönien and the guide was Otto as per the previous times.  In St Antönien it was snowing a fair bit, but other than the reduced visibility it was not too much of a problem.  The temperatures were much higher than last weekend when we did it, and that made it feel more pleasant.

In total there were 9 of us in the group, plus Otto and his girlfriend.  Daniel had posted the hike on and a lot of people had signed up this way.  More people could have come except for the fact that there were only 2 cars available, so 10 was the maximum we could handle.  There was meant to be another Russian girl coming, but she overslept it seems.  The following nationalities were represented by the group: British, Peruvian-Spanish, German, Finnish, Chinese, French and Indian.  So it was a very nice mix.

After warming up with coffees and delicious, freshly baked apple cake we set off.  We were driven by a minibus to the start point in two groups, and once there we put on our equipment and got ready to set off.  Whilst I was putting on my shoes one of the straps broke.  I wasn't sure if I had pulled it too hard or if it was just old, but Otto said he had had the shoes for 5 years already and that it was kind of to be expected.  The snow was pretty deep but there were some ski tracks that we were able to follow.  At some points when I felt like a bit of extra training I would leave the tracks and walk through the powder.  That came well over my knee and was hard going.

The group taking the easy route whilst I slog it through the powder

The first part of the walk was in the forest and for most of us it was our favourite part.  After leaving the forest we headed uphill towards a mountain called the Kreuz.  I felt like extra training so I ran uphill for a bit then turned round and ran downhill till I was some way past the group, and then I turned round again and tried to catch them up.  It was a really good workout and I was sweating like a beast.  The turnaround point for the day was just under 1,900 metres above sea level.  If we had continued to the top of the Kreuz it would have taken somewhat longer.

At turnaround point 1,882 metres above sea level

We stopped for lunch at a summer hut near the turnaround point, and after eating some snacks Otto asked Daniel and I if we wanted to dig some trenches so that he could demonstrate how avalanches happen.  Two of the trenches were in parallel and then there was a trench across the bottom of the snow pile.  Then he got several people to stand on top of the pile of snow and jump up and down.  After jumping a few times the snow gave way in one big block.  He explained that if that happened on a bigger scale you are talking about thousands of tons of snow, and that is pretty serious.

Once we got back past the forested section we stopped for some mulled wine.  Then we made our way slowly back to the hotel where our cars were parked.  Some parts were pretty steep and the majority of the group fell on their bottoms.  No-one was hurt though.

Arriving back in St Antönien

After getting back to the hotel it was time to finish the day off with some drinks and a cheese fondue.  The group were fairly quiet, but a nice bunch.  We arrived back in Zurich sometime around 9.30pm, and after Negrita had been out for a walk it was time for bed.  I quite enjoy snowshoeing although I think the ideal would be to carry my snowboard on my back and then I could board downhill in the powder.

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