Deciding to drive we hired a T6, great, 3hrs each at the wheel and we would be there in no time! All we could manage was 2 hrs each and even at that, I thought it was hard work. Having driven to the Alps before this was a surprise, but then it was in a fast-sporty car and not a van.
We rolled into the cable station in Saas Grund after 20 odd hrs of driving, tired and weary but with incoming rain forecast we packed light and headed up to climb Alpindurst. This is a great route that I had climbed before with G and knew Craig would love it. The climbing is never difficult but the length, exposure and surrounding 4000m peaks makes for an unforgettable experience.
We climbed fast but after 10 pitches knew that we would miss the last bin down. The rain came in true alpine style as we topped out so we quickly packed and headed for the long walk back to the valley. This took several hrs and our feet felt shredded, but thankfully neither of us had blisters (note for the future, don’t miss the last bin and thick socks work with trainers).
We popped up the roof and slept like dogs till the carpark opened (again) in the morning…
Craig being super keen went to charm the lift staff with the plan we could use yesterday’s “down” tickets to go “up” so we could bike down. He wore them down. But only to the middle station. The middle station was without staff so we carried on up to Hohass leaving Craig again to talk his version of Swiss German to allow us through the gates at the top… he wore them down eventually and we sat on the edge of the glacier having a Cappuccino (2 shot Americano for me, obviously).
Not having mountain biked for 2 years I felt uneasy but there was only one way off the hill and that was down, so off we went, Craig whooping and doing jumps, me howling and holding on. Once back at the van I had to admit it was thrilling and I enjoyed every (other) minute. We loaded the van and headed for Cham and an improving weather picture.
We arrived to flooded drains and gridlock so made our way to Gaillands to live van life for a week.
The weather improved next morning so up we went to suck some thin air, check conditions and climb Cosmic Arête. This is always good fun and we had it to ourselves. I did the usual comedy act when climbing back onto the viewing platform and got a bunch of kids to haul on the rope to bring Craig up. We laughed and posed for pics with the kids and a group of Japanese people - it was very funny.
The weather for the next week was good in the morning but thunder and rain in the afternoon so we climbed high in the morning from the first bin and mountain biked in the afternoon using the various uplifts in the valley.
Having the van and bikes was great as it gave us the flexibility to do something daily when it rains. The drive back to the UK was as bad for me as the drive out. Craig managed better but we both struggled with fatigue, drank too much coffee and ate things we would never eat only to try and keep awake and alert (note, we would do it again).
Some pics of the trip…