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  #41  
Old 20.06.2010, 11:48
Niranjan
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland (specifically, mountains up to 2500-ers)

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T

5) "Stick to the major paths/trails - and if possible where a bright top."

... most running injuries happened in Zurich and/or local wanderwegs, and not on mountain trails.

While that may be so for injuries, and that was my anecdotal evidence, the SAC statistics for fatalities is even more curious. Some of the interesting things I could glean (but most reports are in german, so I could be wrong in guessing the meanings):

1. Hikers beat mountaineers in absolute number of fatalities (39 hikers vs. 27 mountaineers and 6 rock climbers in 2008). Not so surprising, given that there were probably far more hikers than mountaineers and climbers put together, but the numbers are interesting nevertheless.

2. One would think the 'the Rega will pick us up if we get ourselves in a mess' generation refers to the younger lot, this is conventional wisdom and i would have thought so too. However the statistics are quite intriguing. If we assume forty as the median age of hikers, the under-forty fatalities is 40 compared to the over-forty fatalities of 61. People over 70 beat the people under 20 by a 3:1 ratio in the last four years.

If we keep the under-30s as the "Rega will pick us up" generation, the under-30 fatalities is a mere 21 compared to 80 people who were over 30 years. Now this can be interpreted in many ways, maybe it proves that the under 30s tend to whistle the chopper more readily whereas the older ones tend to go down honorably, thus supporting the conventional wisdom. It could also mean that it is not necessarily true that the older hikers are safer.

3. Personally, this one is of greatest interest to me. In the distribution of the terrain, 3 people died on wanderwegs (the yellow paths), 21 people died on bergwegs (the red and white mountain trails), and 2 people died on alpine routes (the blue and white, off-trail or free to chart your own trails that I was referring to).
This supports my hypothesis that it is not the hardness of the route per se that is dangerous, it is the mismatch between a person's abilities and the route he has chosen. My feeling is, a person on an alpine route will never let down his guard, and so is less prone to falls than a person on a marked route. But open to other interpretations as well.
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  #42  
Old 23.06.2010, 21:42
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

Interesting statistics and thoughts there.
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However the statistics are quite intriguing. If we assume forty as the median age of hikers, the under-forty fatalities is 40 compared to the over-forty fatalities of 61. People over 70 beat the people under 20 by a 3:1 ratio in the last four years.
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3. ...3 people died on wanderwegs (the yellow paths), 21 people died on bergwegs (the red and white mountain trails), and 2 people died on alpine routes (the blue and white, off-trail or free to chart your own trails that I was referring to).
This supports my hypothesis that it is not the hardness of the route per se that is dangerous, it is the mismatch between a person's abilities and the route he has chosen.
So what happens to all those folk over seventy and all those others on the red and white mountain trails?
Let's assume that the 'off-trail blue and white guys' get older. For them, yellow trails are a 'dead loss'. No challenge, not such interesting scenery, too many of them tarred now = too many cyclists.

So they go for the red and white trails. As long as the hiker is fit, sure footed, is flexible at the hips, has good thigh muscles, has good reactions and a reasonable sense of balance, doesn't suffer from vertigo, doesn't wear 'varilux' glasses, has eyes which adjust quickly from dark to light etc. these trails are not dangerous at all. The 'blue and white guys' fitted this description once. They don't now. Those ten hour hikes were fine once. Now, towards evening, all the little 'deficits' begin to add up. Narrow path, coming from bright sunlight into shadow the eyes don't adjust, a tiny stub of the toe, (would have been nothing in their youth), a slight turn of the head, off-balance or even slightly dizzy, the path, as seen through their varilux glasses with astigmatism correction, isn't in the right place and over the edge they go.

Been there, done that. Fortunately it was in a wood. I rolled over twice, grabbed a root, picked myself up, climbed back up to the path, dusted myself off... '
I don't think the guys (far more guys than gals in those statistics!) underestimate the risks. I don't think they realise there ARE risks. After having done the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Piz Pal, Jungfrau... these red and white routes are a piece of cake.

Added 27.6.2010
Three other things which add to the problems of the no-longer-young. In the 'olden' days, only wimps and sissies took a lot of liquid with them on a hike. The 'real men' could cope without. Added to this, many slightly older folk don't feel thirsty when they are getting dehydrated anyway. I've been hiking with a guy, younger than me, probably fitter than me, who could no longer walk straight and sat down, vomiting and looking really ill. It turned out that all that was wrong with him was that he had ignored the 'take 3 litres with you today' advice from the leader. It took two days before he was really OK again. Had this 'feeling wretched' happened on the slope we had just descended, it could have had much more serious consequences.

Second point is the sun. Especially if you lose you hair, you should wear a hat. A peak helps to prevent the sun/shade/sun/shade on the track which the eyes of the over fifties find difficult to adjust to.

Thirdly, this one more for the ladies, using poles/walking sticks helps uphill, takes weight of the knees coming down, but it also makes one 'lazy' with regards to balance training. Like 'support wheels' on a child's bike, or double runners for skating, they simplify the job as long as the 'aids' are used. But on a really narrow track with a 'cliff' on one side and a drop on the other, there is no room beside the hiker for her to stick her poles in. She may get them under her feet; she cannot use her hands on the rocks to help her balance when holding them; and putting them into the rucksack on a narrow path is not fun either.

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. My feeling is, a person on an alpine route will never let down his guard, and so is less prone to falls than a person on a marked route.
I honestly don't think that 'being on ones guard' really solves the above problem. It's like calling out 'be careful' to a child. It’s contra-productive. It just distracts their attention. Me, I no longer turn my head while walking on narrow paths. To look at scenery or anything else, I stop and turn very slowly. Over narrow bridges etc, I keep my eyes straight ahead to look for uneven bits. I'm usually happy enough on red and white routes, but even then, there is often a short stretch of 'one of those bits' and I'm always glad when we have it behind us...
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Last edited by Longbyt; 29.01.2011 at 12:43. Reason: Added three more points about problems of ageing hikers!
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  #43  
Old 23.06.2010, 22:12
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

good stuff here...some scary for a beginner like me and my better half...some of you guys seem to be advanced...I mean doing Matterhorn? until recently i thoughtbit was not possible unless you were an Alpinist...ufff...any total beginners here?
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  #44  
Old 23.06.2010, 22:28
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

This guy, Ulrich Inderbinen, went up the Matterhorn a couple of months before his 90th birthday and Mont Blanc when he was 84.

For those of us who are not all that experienced, (he went up the Matterhorn 370 times), there are plenty of satisfying hikes on this Thread with GPS tracks. The detail gives you quite a good idea what awaits you.
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  #45  
Old 23.06.2010, 23:12
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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This guy, Ulrich Inderbinen, went up the Matterhorn a couple of months before his 90th birthday and Mont Blanc when he was 84.

For those of us who are not all that experienced, (he went up the Matterhorn 370 times), there are plenty of satisfying hikes on this Thread with GPS tracks. The detail gives you quite a good idea what awaits you.
that is insane! i'm going there this weekend then...nothing but respect for such toughies!!
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  #46  
Old 23.06.2010, 23:26
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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I'm usually happy enough on red and white routes, but even then, there is often a short stretch of 'one of those bits' and I'm always glad when we have it behind us...
Specially when the trail crosses an area of rock fall, and the footing suddenly deteriorates ...

Another example is areas where the authorities have decided the trail needs a chain ... I find that holding the chain does give me some reassurance, but then just seeing the chain causes anxiety. My impression is that chains are being put up in places where there were none a few years ago.

I believe that there are several white-blue-white trails that really do not deserve that classification. An example is the trail over the Col des Ignes; I believe that it is no more difficult than the neighboring trail over the Col de Riedmatten.
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  #47  
Old 24.06.2010, 00:00
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

Speaking of this weekend (6/26) - anyone know how low the snow goes? Me & the wife are intermediate hikers with good gear, and want to do some hiking... but im' worried there's snow.

I'm eyeing the Hohenweg Hohbalmen (Zermatt), but that walk peaks at 2741m, which I am guessing is snow-covered right now. So the fallback is Surenenpass, which appears to peak at about ~2250m. any idea what the conditions are like in that area (Engelberg / Bernese Oberland) right now, at about that height?

(not a tourist - living in Zuri - honest )
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  #48  
Old 24.06.2010, 00:12
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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Speaking of this weekend (6/26) - anyone know how low the snow goes? Me & the wife are intermediate hikers with good gear, and want to do some hiking... but im' worried there's snow.

I'm eyeing the Hohenweg Hohbalmen (Zermatt), but that walk peaks at 2741m, which I am guessing is snow-covered right now. So the fallback is Surenenpass, which appears to peak at about ~2250m. any idea what the conditions are like in that area (Engelberg / Bernese Oberland) right now, at about that height?

(not a tourist - living in Zuri - honest )
pretty good point...was thinking about it as well but for now since we are such newbies will be heading to below 1800 hikes..
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  #49  
Old 24.06.2010, 00:20
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

if there's no snow, you can do hikes above 1800 -- just cuz they're high doesn't mean they're tough. But there might be snow. I wish someone knew...
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Old 24.06.2010, 00:29
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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if there's no snow, you can do hikes above 1800 -- just cuz they're high doesn't mean they're tough. But there might be snow. I wish someone knew...
sure sure..just taking it easy doing 3-4 hour hikes not too high up as we don't have full set of gear and don't want to goo steep up/down so sticking to easy to medium difficulty paths
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  #51  
Old 24.06.2010, 07:22
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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if there's no snow, you can do hikes above 1800 -- just cuz they're high doesn't mean they're tough. But there might be snow. I wish someone knew...
I remember one hike where it was too late to turn back when we saw snow.
(Kistenpass)
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  #52  
Old 24.06.2010, 13:44
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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I remember one hike where it was too late to turn back when we saw snow.
(Kistenpass)

holly crap! nice, impressive a bit scary...where is the snow though?
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  #53  
Old 24.06.2010, 13:51
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

Snow line is mostly above 2500m now except for sheltered north facing areas. 2700m will almost certainly be hikeable but you may be in the snow in places.

Check the webcams in the vicinity.
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  #54  
Old 24.06.2010, 14:29
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

I would think so too.

I plan to a 2 day variant of a classic alpine hike on 2/3 July (Friday-Saturday):

Day 1: Reach Interlaken by 10:00 and go to Wilderswil by train. Hike starts at Wilderswil (~700m) hike up to Schynige Platte (2068m), continue to Faulhorn (2700). Stay overnight in the Faulhorn mountain hut.

Day 2: Start from Faulhorn (2700m), climb Schwarzhorn (2978m-subject to snwo) via First, return to First and possibly hike further down to Grindelwald or take cable car and return.

Plan is to go at a scenery gazing pace, I will have two guys I was not hiked with before. This should be a straightforward walking path, maybe T2, but demanding on stamina. I see this as a good practice trip for those of us who haven't stayed in real huts before. Anyone is welcome to join who is happy to walk all day and is flexible to conditions. PM me for any further info.

Cheers,
N

p.s. mods: feel free to move this to a more appropriate place, I am not posting a calendar event for this one.
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  #55  
Old 24.06.2010, 14:47
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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I would think so too.

I plan to a 2 day variant of a classic alpine hike on 2/3 July (Friday-Saturday):

Day 1: Reach Interlaken by 10:00 and go to Wilderswil by train. Hike starts at Wilderswil (~700m) hike up to Schynige Platte (2068m), continue to Faulhorn (2700). Stay overnight in the Faulhorn mountain hut.

Day 2: Start from Faulhorn (2700m), climb Schwarzhorn (2978m-subject to snwo) via First, return to First and possibly hike further down to Grindelwald or take cable car and return.

Plan is to go at a scenery gazing pace, I will have two guys I was not hiked with before. This should be a straightforward walking path, maybe T2, but demanding on stamina. I see this as a good practice trip for those of us who haven't stayed in real huts before. Anyone is welcome to join who is happy to walk all day and is flexible to conditions. PM me for any further info.

Cheers,
N

p.s. mods: feel free to move this to a more appropriate place, I am not posting a calendar event for this one.
Watch out for descending Leprechauns going the other direction!
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  #56  
Old 24.06.2010, 17:18
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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Interesting statistics and thoughts there.
Thanks for those additional insights, I couldn't really make out whether you were agreeing with me or disagreeing, but I appreciate your post, I agree on the last point too, about being on guard.


For the Faulhorn hikers: this is the link to the hotel/hut


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Watch out for descending Leprechauns going the other direction!
That reminds me I must carry hiking sticks, just in case they bother us
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  #57  
Old 24.06.2010, 17:32
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

On Saturday we are doing the Wasserauen-Seealpsee-Ebenalp hike with the better half. Not the super easy one but a bit challenging...enough for us beginners
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Old 24.06.2010, 21:55
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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Plan is to go at a scenery gazing pace, I will have two guys I was not hiked with before. This should be a straightforward walking path, maybe T2, but demanding on stamina. I see this as a good practice trip for those of us who haven't stayed in real huts before. .
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Old 25.06.2010, 16:21
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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...the Matterhorn is simply one of the most dangerous climbs in the Alps by objective risk, and has a relationship with Rega like no other peak, or even sport, has.
One doesn't have to be an alpinist to climb the Matterhorn or a peak of that level, (I am not an alpinist by any stretch), one just needs to be fit. Lots of people climb the Matterhorn in their fifties as fulfillment of their life-long ambition... Btw: climbing with a guide (or someone far more experienced than oneself) doesn't count as anything in the mountaineering world, or so i am told...
I don't think the last statement applies to the Matterhorn, but as we have some comments on the mountain, we might as well look at a bit of the Film which was shown on Swiss TV about 18 months ago. The person I know who climbed it a couple of years back got it in before the season started. (The guide rang her and said "Weather's Ok, can you come?" so she did). ca. 4 hours up, 4 hours down. A never to be forgotten experience I was told.
A few points for those who don't understand German.
Those climbing with an official guide get to start first in the morning.
The route is not easy to find. 'False trails' made by others who have gone astray can mislead the climber. Because it is so well-known, many people do it who are neither fit enough nor have the necessary equipment or simply lack the necessary experience. They are a danger both to themselves and others and also 'get in the way' on the fixed rope sections, still coming up as others are already on their way down. Untangling ropes on a steep rock face when already tired is something one can well do without. The descent, unlike the situation on many other routes, is no easier than the ascent. No wonder the Rega, as Niranjan says, spend so much time there.
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Old 25.06.2010, 17:08
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Re: Hiking in Switzerland

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I don't think the last statement applies to the Matterhorn, but as we have some comments on the mountain, we might as well look at a bit of the Film which was shown on Swiss TV about 18 months ago. The person I know who climbed it a couple of years back got it in before the season started. (The guide rang her and said "Weather's Ok, can you come?" so she did). ca. 4 hours up, 4 hours down. A never to be forgotten experience I was told.
A few points for those who don't understand German.
Those climbing with an official guide get to start first in the morning.
The route is not easy to find. 'False trails' made by others who have gone astray can mislead the climber. Because it is so well-known, many people do it who are neither fit enough nor have the necessary equipment or simply lack the necessary experience. They are a danger both to themselves and others and also 'get in the way' on the fixed rope sections, still coming up as others are already on their way down. Untangling ropes on a steep rock face when already tired is something one can well do without. The descent, unlike the situation on many other routes, is no easier than the ascent. No wonder the Rega, as Niranjan says, spend so much time there.
Just to add my tuppence (not from the video above, I don't follow german), it seems sometimes the slower ones will still be climbing up, in the process kicking off stonefalls on the climbers who will already be descending down below, having (seemingly) safely made it. So however experienced or fit one is, one is not safe on Matterhorn. I mean, it is trite to say mountaineering is risky, but Matterhorn, with all its fixed rope et al, remains one of the most dangerous mountains for everyone, probably the most dangerous in its class of technical difficulty. This is far as I understand as a person who is rather new to all this.

For the prospective faulhorn hikers: Seems they have opened the trails up to 3000m height today, so we could probably do the planned trip without encountering too much snow.
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