06 Jan 2018

Hohe Kiste attempt

A lonely hike in a quiet forest…so quiet my ears hurt. I had snowshoes, and from the town of Eschenlohe I thought about taking a longer easier way to the summit when I saw how steep the headwall looked in the snow high above. But I headed up anyway. The first hours were easy and beautiful. Then, below a peak called Zundereck (1476 meters) I traversed a steep gully and hillside for about 20 minutes before heading back up again. This trail was really steep, and barely there. Bits of snow and hardened avalanche debries made things tedious.

Forest below Zundereck

Down to the Loisachtal

The Hohe Kisten and Archtalkopf

My high point

I regained the ridgecrest at the Zundereck, and here’s where things got tough. Strong wind and an impressive view down into the snowy Archtal. Deep snow, kicking steps…sometimes a frozen crust that supported me, and sometimes not. Finally I put on snowshoes, and this helped for a while.

Many sub-summits. Awkward traverses around some of them, on latschen trees and rotten snow. Generally, steps couldn’t be counted on…it was hands on trees to hold me to the ridge. Finally, realizing that I’d been traveling two hours up here in the snow and only gained about 200 meters elevation…I wondered if I should go back. I made one more push…gymnastic wrestling with a Latschen tree under a cornice of snow which I punched holes into with my hands for “hand holds.” I kind of liebacked on the latschen with my snowshoes, one hand pulling hard on a branch, the other hand punching holes in the cornice, and meanwhile the wind blowing hard and rather a dangerous drop beneath.

Up and down above the Zundereck

Enjoying some tea on the retreat

Goodbye for now…

I overcame this one only to be greeted by another just as awkward. There were still 200 meters to reach the ridge crest where the going would finally be easy. Nope! Time to turn around, though there were many points I didn’t relish trying to climb down.

It took just as long to get down as up, but I made it back to the safety of the quiet forest. This was a great workout. A really neat area and well, I hope to explore it more. If I come back with snow I’ll have an ice axe and crampons too. Probably a helmet, and even that might not be enough. However, when the snow is gone, it’s just a very steep hike.

For me today, about 1100 meters up and down, sadly not the 1400 I was lookin’ fo’.