Via Alpina Rotstockhütte to Griesalp

Via Alpina Section 12 – Part 2

Rotstockhütte (2019m) -> Sefinenfurgge (2612m) -> Griesalp (1408m)
10km, 600m up and 1500m down

After a night at the mountain hut, we woke up early. Every time someone went to the out-of-the house toilet at night, the wooden floor squeaked and the noise prevented us from a good night of sleep… We were nevertheless warm inside the hut and Caroline told me that the sky at night was amazingly starry!

Despite the lack of sleep, I was in the fresh morning air and happy to be in this fantastic alpine environment.

The breakfast tactics were simple. Absorb as much energy as possible in form of bread, cheese and hot chocolate to happily keep walking until our final destination Griesalp. There isn’t any restaurant on the way.

Today’s program: 4.5 hour of hiking including a serious 1,200m downhill stretch.

Leaving the hut behind, many other hikers were heading our way. A Dutch couple, three American men and two Swiss women steadily were climbing up the steep path. We could see the Schilthorn (2970m), famous for 007’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. From afar, the Schilthorn seemed to fall off from its own edge.

Looking back in the direction of our overnight hut, the northface of the Eiger with the Eigergletscher Station showed off its glory. Last year, I was standing at that station, admiring the Eiger peak.

On the way we stopped many times to rest and were delighted when Caroline spotted a steinbock high up on the slope!

The impressive peak in front of our hut, which we believed to be called “Rotstock” (in fact it was called just “Horn”) turned out to be sphinx-like from the other side.

From here, the uphill got quite strenuous. The  green meadow changed to  the slippery scree-covered steep slope.  Just up and up!

We finally reached the Sefinenfurgge Pass (2612m), which was a very narrow pass.  We were rewarded with a sweeping view of the Kiental Valley.  It was all of a sudden getting cloudy and the cold wind was blowing over the pass.  After enjoying the view for a short time and saying a goodbye to the Eiger and Jungfrau, we tightened our shoe laces to prepare for the long descent.

And not only was it a long descent but a super steep one with 45-degree steps!  It looked like going down to the hell….

Nevertheless, I was grateful to those who took pains to make these wooden steps. Without them, we would have slid down this unfriendly scree slope…

Managing downhill steps, we jig-zagged on the moon-like surface. Other peaks and glaciers started appearing on our left side. This rugged landscape was forlorn and awe-inspiring.

After a while, the terrain changed to a more greener and friendlier surface.  As Caroline is an Ikebana master and familiar with flowers, I had a pleasant little lecture on alpine flora.

Caroline was getting tired with going down 1200m, which is quite normal. So the moment we found a good-size rock to sit on,  we made a stop,  looking at the other side of the mountains and contemplating which pass we are going through the next day.

We were both happy to arrive in the early afternoon in Griesalp, a quaint hamlet, and to put our feet up at our old, beautiful hotel.  It’s such a luxury to have a good hot shower and our own room for two, instead of no shower and sleeping in a room with 15 other hikers…..

Sitting at the terrace comfortably and having tea, we watched many hikers coming down. They as well seemed exhausted after a serious day of decent…

At dinner we shared a table with a solo hiker from Fribourg, Gido. Caroline coincidentally went to high school near his school and as it is often the case, we had a very enjoyable talk with a fellow hiker.

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