I am watching the majestic most western part of Raetikon massif from my balcony. I have visited Lawenatal valley before, and envisioned to hike some peaks around.
It is a long way up to the mountains. I wanted to do something for Mother Nature, and avoid using the car. A revolutionary alpine style mountaineering using bicycle and manpower…no cars.
Day before, I took my bike, and cycle via the Alpine Rhinetal valley towards a foot of the Raetikon mountains. 28 km round trip, just to avoid seeking right path next morning.
My favorite weather is between storm systems, or start/end of a weather front…where you get clouds, and most clear air you can get with little or no haze. Previous two days was raining, and weather guys promised a sunny day with clouds.
Not the only one
Cycling at 5:00 in dark covered Rhinetal valley, I thought I am the only psychopath knowing other hours than between sunrise to sunset. People walking dogs, runners, even people cycling to work.
17 km journey at easy pace, up to the 870 m. The strategy was to use the same amount of energy while improving speed. At a certain point, cycling was harder than just walking, and pushing the bike.
It sounds stupid, but wait for way down where you understand the point of pushing the stupid bike up to the 1500 m where the dirt road ends near the last mountain ranch.
I hoped to reach about 1000 m with sunrise, and get some morning photos of the waking valley. Autumnal/winter inversions and fogs kicked in, though.
It rarely goes your way, and my photography is based purely on luck…with some help of careful planing, and understanding of Mother Nature.
The Hell of Logistics
Imagine climbing mountains where you carry almost nothing on the way up. Sadly, that is how it doesn’t work. Autumn times do not require so much water, but you still need at least 2 liters before you reach mountains’ pure water streams.
In my case, it is also another 3-5 kg of useless crap called photo equipment. I could cycle right up to the 1500 m, but there would be very little energy left for a final summit push. In my case, large energy supply needed for adventures, and crazy ideas.
The Hills Have Eyes
On the way up, there is also mountain guards everywhere. I first spotted lonely chamois trying to signal invader. I try to not scare any wildlife, but they know about you before you notice. Furthermore, I was picking up some blueberries growing on slopes. Just a few steps later, there was a large herd of chamois
It is sad to look what human farming causes in nature…noisy cattle with damn bells, poisoning water sources, shit everywhere, damaged ground…disturbed wildlife. Marmots, chamois, and mountain goats managed to coexist…being pushed higher, and higher up to mountains where grows nothing.
How stupid we are, in over-herding, and meet overconsumption. Like humans need to eat 1 kg of steaks every day. Try to drink that shit flowing from mountains full of drugs from sick cattle. It looks like it is better to eat toxic meet, drink toxic water from mountain pastures, and fuck everything along the way.
My friend, old school hunter that kills just for survival told me “I hunt for survival, you hunt for adventure…with your camera and audio tech.” I do not like killing and breeding for fun. It is retarded. Imagine just 25 years ago, I wanted to join special forces…how stupid am I?
I reached a mountain pass on the border of Liechtenstein and Switzerland at about 9:00. Locals call it “Mazorahöhi”. I originally wanted to hike Mittlerspitz – not only it was lower than mountain pass, but I had a vision of chamois herd on the horizon with background covered by clouds.
One thing about mountains you never climbed before – it is always higher, and further than you think. You think “it is close to summit”, few steps later you find out that it was just something like baby summit of main summit, and it is further away than you thought.
I started to ascend toward Falknis summit – in complete other direction than “planned” – hoping for my vision to came true. Sadly, the herd moved from the horizon, and clouds disappeared.
Welcoming the fresh snow
At 2200 m I had a dilemma, “should I stay, or should I go back.” I have been there before, climbing somewhere without crampons, snow axe…and so on. With age, you get less stupid – optimism is caused by lack of information.
Steep slopes, soaked by previous rainy days, and one step from certain death. Think twice, if you are strong enough 😉 I eventually carried on, and has been rewarded as usually. Sometimes I won’t get any memories at all, nor photos…most of the time, I get rewards from Mother Nature.
No sacrifice, no victory – no discipline, no victory!!! No brain, no pain – no pain, no gain!
Reunion with old friends
On the way up, I disturbed another herd of chamois grazing on a 40° slope…they are natural climbers.
I reached something like shoulder peak, and clouds allowed some Sun towards the valley. You have to photograph if you can…you can delete it later if you don’t like it.
There is lots of opportunities even in crap light, you just need to open your mind/eyes.
I spotted another mountain guards, the kings of mountains – Capra ibex, locally know Steinbock. Longhorn mountain goat is a general term I guess. Long horn on the summit of Falknishorn (what I thought is main summit. It is always higher…further away…in clouds).
I finally reached the shoulder summit close to Falknishorn, and there was yet another surprise. At least 10 longies sitting on a cliff leading to the summit of Falknishorn.
In 2400 meters, clouds were in charge with occasional sun spells coming throughout the hole in clouds. I waited a long time for shots. Sadly, weather is not predictable as waves in ocean. You must shoot what you get.
While waiting, I ate something…you need to feed the engine, otherwise you burn out like a candle. Just check out the Suunto log…I burnt over 6000 kcal (at least that is what scientists claim, as if humans were a steam engine :-), it is officially at least 2 days by doing nothing in front of TV.
Weather didn’t change much, and I approached summit with hope to meet with old friends.
Meet us at the summit
If you are not threat, you can dine with them with 5 meters distance…and without vax certificate, or PCR test! You must not make any sudden moves…just moving my camera from waist to head, worried those poor guys. Chamois run away, just if you breach 20 meters perimeter.
Longies occupied the summit – I didn’t want to disturb them too much. I tried to use strategy from my master Galen Rowell – he used to say, ‘You must pretend to be one of them. Take two sticks, and make yourself “horns”. Approach slowly, and let them adapt. Wild animals feel if you have fear, and carry guns. If you come in peace, they eventually do not bother, and consider you part of the herd.’
That is what I like about animals, “They either like you, or eat you.”
I got some sunny pictures, took short videos. Sadly, I had to “move” the herd little bit, because I wanted to “hunt” also the old ones with loong horns that sit on the edge of the cliff. You have to watch the young ones, they jump around, and you can be hit with falling stones if you are below the herd, or you are surrounded by them.
Old ones are tourist-friendly, and do not bother too much unless you wanna mount them…you will get horns in the ass 😉 Especially, if you approach babies. Every wild life parents are aggressive if you breach safety distance from their offspring.
My damaged knee is getting worst every year. My surgeon warned me back in 2004 “you will need artificial knee in future”. Descend is hell, that is one more reason why I use bicycleMountaineering aka biketaineering 😉
On the way down, I spoke with an old farmer using mountain pastures for his sheep and cattle. He was watching slopes with spotting scope…telling me there is a lone wolf that killed one of his sheep…there is also two lynxes.
Humans invaded their territory, chopped trees, and they wonder those evil wild animals kill their sheep…then they assemble a sniper party, and kill them all. How stupid is that?
Back to mBC
I reached mobile Base Camp with my bike. I have been trying to tackle voluntary dehydration in the last hour. You will lose almost one liter of water per hour…respiration, perspiration. And I have been on the road for almost 10 hours. Even if you keep it cold (dress to survive, not to impress as modern tourists do in order to reach hospital as soon as possible), you will lose water.
The same goes for feeding the beast. Every trained person has got at least 300,000 kcal with him, easily available if properly used. I have burnt 10,000 kcal in one day, and ate barely 1,000 kcal – how is that possible?
I lost like 5l of water/5 kg of body weight I guess, and had just 3.5l of water on me. It will eventually kick in, and you need to recover water loss. Drink if you are thirsty, and eat if you are hungry. Forget about bullshit sold by drug dealers such as Gatorade, Powerbar, and other unnatural crap. The human body is capable of unbelievable things.
I was thirsty, and hungry – riding downhill, 8 km descend, burnt brake pads…recalling my MTB DH career. Returning to BC, as a thanks for not destroying nature, Mother Nature rewarded me with wind. Of course, wind against you. You are tired, riding next to the Rhine river, and still 12 km against the wind…back to BC.
What doesn’t kill you, makes you only stranger.