Hiking in the Alps near Clariden

_MAL2414, originally uploaded by Michael A. Lowry.

Saturday morning, I got up early and went for a hike near Clariden with Kirsten & Simon. We took a gondola up part of the way from the Klausenpass side, and hiked up the rest of the way to the Claridenhütte, a cabin operated by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC). In this cabin, like many, you can get a hot meal and a place to lay your head for not too much more than fifty Francs. The facilities were quite simple. Water was piped in from a stream of melting glacier water. It must have been filtered to remove silt, but had to be boiled to be safe to drink. There was a tap in the private kitchen only, so if you wanted water, you had to ask for it. A small amount of electricity was provided by solar panels on the side of the cabin. These solar panels charged a bank of batteries, and provided enough electricity to power a few dim florescent lights. These lights were on timers, and turned themselves off automatically after just a few minutes. There was no bathroom, no shower, and no sink save that in the kitchen. There was not proper toilet either, only a very simple outhouse fifty meters from the cabin. So yes, the facilities were quite simple; but the cabin was sturdy, and it kept out the cold.

We dropped off our bags, and made a short day hike up to the glacier. Around five o’clock in the evening, we returned to the hut and enjoyed a couple of beers in the last warm light of the sun. The weather was perfect for hiking—cool but not cold, lots of sunshine, and only a bit of wind. The dinner at the cabin was simple but filling: a warm and thick soup with pasta, vegetables, and pumpkin seeds; a cold green bean salad, and spaghetti with meat sauce. We shared a carafe of wine and some sparkling water too. After dinner, we retired to the communal sleeping room located two floors up, just under the roof. I could hear the wind howling outside during the night, and was very glad to be in a stone cabin and not just a nylon tent. I slept quite well considering the rustic facilities.

In the morning we woke up before dawn. Some of the other hikers had awoken hours earlier to embark on longer treks. I caught a few photos of the sunrise just before sitting down to a simple breakfast of hot tea, bread, and cream cheese.

After breakfast we donned clothing for colder and windier weather. The temperature was still just a couple of degrees above freezing, and the wind that had picked up during the night had not abated much since sunrise. We hiked again up to the glacier and looked for a way up to the pass. There was no easy way up that didn’t cross the glacier; and lacking ropes and ice axes, we opted to err on the side of safety and just call it a day. We retraced our steps back down to the cabin, picked up our bags, and then hiked back down to the gondola for the quick ride back down to the valley floor.

It was a great little hike and my first experience staying in a Swiss Alpine cabin. I look forward to more hikes in the coming weeks.

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