On the way up to the Wiesbadener hut Mrs P and I had discussed the merits of acclimatisation. My suggestion that we climb the highest peak in the area, the Piz Buin 3,312m on day one in the mountains was not being received well. As well it might when you consider that I have had 3 months of idolatry in which to dedicate my time to getting mountain fit whilst Mrs P has had to stare at a computer all day and try to get fit at weekends. This was not incidentally to be a daring attempt to scale a bottle of sun cream. The latter was named after the former, not the other way round.
Anyway, a compromise was reached; Set out early from the hut at 2443m, walk up on to the Oschentaler glacier, circa 2,800m, see how we feel and probably just do some crevasse rescue practice before strolling down for tea and medals at about mid-day. ‘Simples’ as the meerkat would say.
The Silvretta Horn is accessed via the ridge on the left. The summit is the pointy bit at the right of the ridge. (FYI The glacier is the white thing I am standing on.)
The meerkat clearly does not know Mrs P and her legendary stubborn streak. (Stupid meerkat.) Alarm at 05.30, breakfast at 06.00, we set off at just after 07.00 along with about half the population of Austria, all intent on the highest peak in the area (and one dog!). About 3 hours later we are on the glacier and Mrs P says; “Well, while we’re here…” Not one to look a gift meerkat in the face but erring on the side of caution I suggest going to have a look at the bottom of the Silvrettahorn 3,244m. This because the Piz Buin involves following the world and ‘literally’ his dog (this rare opportunity to correctly use the word ‘literally’ cannot be passed by) up a rocky ridge with high risk of rock fall. Let’s be sensible here. To cut a long story short; we had the Silvretta Horn to ourselves; we failed to stop where the glacier met the rock and climbed to within 40m of the summit.
Mrs P. sporting the very latest in sun and rock protection.
Only a lack of water and a longing for our cheese and bread we had left in our rucksacks at the base of the rock turned us round. For aficionados the ridge is very similar to the kind of scrambling you might find on Crib Goch in North Wales only crumblier. Oh, and the drop is such that you would have time to not only watch your life flash before you but also consider the view on the way down.
Did you bring the cheese and bread with you?
Arrived back at the hut for water (we have to stretch our cash) and a serious lack of medals at 3.15pm. Pooped but Mrs P is officially declared ‘well ‘ard.’
05.30 alarm. Again!? Why oh why? Left hut at 06.40 and went up on to the glacier to spend a few hours practicing crevasse rescue skills. This is all about what to do if one of us falls into a crevasse ([kruh-vas] noun; a bloody great hole in the ice.) Serious stuff that involves ice screws, belays, pulley systems, prussic knots, ice axes, a lot of rope and about 20 rather important steps. Despite all the practice however, the likelihood of Mrs P pulling me out of a crevasse even with a 4 to 1 pulley system is very unlikely. Generally we hope for steps 1 and 2 and a good mobile phone signal for the mountain rescue types.
We were in this valley way back in 2006. The erosion of the glacier during that infinitesimally short, in geological terms, period of time is absolutely shocking. Took a photo of some studies displayed in the hut. How long before the glacier is gone? What happens when the water stops feeding the lake which in turn feeds the population? Does our coming here make it worse?
Back to Gandalf at 3.15 pm and down to a great campsite in Landeck, Camping Riffler where the nicest man gave us homemade schnapps by way of welcome. A good use of glacier water I think. We love Camping Riffler.