Belchenflue in Early Winter

Publiziert von Ken , 17. Dezember 2007 um 21:27.

Region: Welt » Schweiz » Basel Land
Tour Datum:16 Dezember 2007
Wandern Schwierigkeit: T2 - Bergwandern
Zeitbedarf: 4:30
Aufstieg: 600 m
Abstieg: 600 m
Strecke:Waldenburg Ruine, East along Ridge, South to Belchenflue, Back to Landerbruck
Zufahrt zum Ausgangspunkt:Just south of Waldenbruck bus/rail station

Conclusion:  If your from the USA suburban car-n-TV-dominated society, about 40, about 7 KG overweight, not a regular exerciser, but are otherwise in pretty good shape all things considered (non-smoker) and want to be active, you can do this and you have to judge your spouse's and kids' ability accordingly.  Total time = 4-5 hours (about 15 KM?), but could be done quicker without snow and knowing what you're doing/where you're going.  Toughest part is first part to reach the elevation, but then a ridge walk with nice variety and views.


Conditions: Cloudy, breezy, winter day at about -2 C.  1-6 CM snow on ground over 800 M.  No precipitation.

Equipment - Lands End down jacket with hood.  Knit Cotton Gloves with lining.  Cheap North Face Boots (but with Gortex).  Retail Backpack.  Levis + Silk underwear.  3 Layers under jacket - normal weekend wear.  Compass.  Cell phone.  3 x 33 dl of water & trail snacks.

Planned route was to start in Waldenburg, climb up to the Ruine there, walk the ridge eastward along the ridge, turn south to Belchenflue, view the alps (hopefully) and head back to Langenbruck, where you can catch the Post bus back to Waldenburg and then train back to Basel area.  My first real day-hike since living here in Switzerland. 

First thing---8am too dark.  And impatience and not knowing what to look for.  I climb the first path (unmarked) up a hilside heading east.  It turns out to be the wrong ridge--I'm one ridge too far North.  So, I turn right to cross a farm field, but wow, that is a steep field--I'm already breathing heavily.  And then, I spot the landmark Ruine high above me right over Waldenburg, but I'm already past it.  It is now west of me and I want to go east/southeast.  I decide to head straight south to the same ridge as the ruine, but south of the ruine by about a kilometer and trust myself that I will cross the marked wanderweg trail.  What a way to start hiking in Switzerland--bushwacking straight up a wooded and leafy slope without trail-markers.  Ultimately, I wind up on a rocky precipice but without views and no way to get on top of it so I can survey the entire area.  It's still dusky as the sun isn't up and clouds abound.  I briefly consider that perhaps I should stop now while I'm ahead--my heart is pounding, I'm not sure where I am, I am alone, I still have the ability to turn around, and I don't think many people will be on this route today.  I walk back and forth for 10 minutes trying to see where I am, but I don't feel like back-tracking downward that leafy slope on my backside--which is the only way I would be able to do it after that very steep climb.  

Ahh--the yello diamond--the wanderweg!--maybe this day won't end right away afterall.  In hindsight, what I've just done, and the next 30 minutes is the toughest part of the hike--steeply up up from Waldenberg to 1000 meters.  I am still climbing a thin forest trail with slick leafy drop on one side and solid rock up the next.  Up and up and my heart is pounding--I mean, where I hike in the USA near NYC, 1000 feet up is a challenge and 1000 meters is more than 3X that amount.  In any event, I settle into the incline and now see markers at a VERY regular pace.  I reach the snowline and the ridge.    I'm hoping it doesn't get any deeper--and it really doesn't, plus, this trail is definitely used--I'd say that at least 10 people have taken this route on the prior day--one accompanied by a dog, so how tough could the hike be?

Now, a nice hike with periodic yellow typical wanderweg signposts offering options--I've seen 3 in the past hour.  I stay the course to Belchenflue and more-or-less pass them according to the times on the signs.  As I go, to the left, there is a steep drop and farm fields to the right.  I pass some old concrete bunkers, one of which is a concrete trench about a hundred meters long.  Another is a shelter with a steel (iron?) turret on top and quarters that could have held perhaps up to 100 men!  Who did this work and why?  A cornerstone indicates 1922?, but I'm not certain about how long my trip will take, so I don't stay too long to find out more--I toss a snowball off the the ridge at the iron turret and watch it fall--1, 2, 3, 4, 5...until it hits a snow-covered pine limb in silence.  I think about the utter patience it takes to build a structure in these mountains--even the farmer's fence would take a long time, patience and good planning.  The wooded ridge is a really beautiful hike with 4 cm of powdery snow and a consistent, crusty, windblown accumulation on every tree branch.  Farmers fields give long views down the slopes to the fading snow that mixes with the tiny farm-field ridges to make stripes of land and snow all over the valley in varying degrees--nice picture opportunity.  The bottom of the deeper valleys are completely free of snow, in thinly cloud-veiled shades of grey, brown, and green.

The apex of the hike is actually an anti-climax since the clouds roll in and the last 20 minute trail to Belchenflue isn't nearly as pretty (nor as challenging) as the first part of the hike, although the snow-laden pines directly beneath are post-card quality--softened by the haze of a thin clouds.

The way down is much less dramatic.  Here, my unpracticed knees are hurting me, especially in the beginning as the descent is really unforgiving--there was an easier, longer way and in hindsight, I should have taken it--this is much worse than going up.  And the snow is slippery, so my technique to use muscles (and not joints) is difficult to practice.  I guess that whenever my hiking days are over, the cause will be these weak knees--good reason to loose that last 7 KG's.  I stopped in a Weinachtmarkt in Landersbruck and had a kaffee mit crepe - nice surprise.  Then I missed the post bus by 2 minutes, so rather than wait an hour, I hiked a road-side trail back to Waldenburg (nothing special there--don't miss the bus next time).  There, I saw the paved and marked stairway to the Waldenburg Ruine--it's just south of the bus/tram station (I had gotten off this morning one stop too soon)--actually, my way was more fun.

Tourengänger: Ken


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Kommentare (7)

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Anna hat gesagt: ??????
Gesendet am 17. Dezember 2007 um 21:50
> you can do this, but your wife and young kids--unless they are really committed to it, probably cannot, at least not in winter.

What are those sexist affirmations? Women can go and go to mountain just like men do. There are stronger people and less stronger.
I can do more than 2000m height gain and 40Km in a day (even with pack). I do 800m height gain daily 364/7 just to keep the good physical condition. I know a lot of women (some even older than 60) doing difficult hikes (T5-T6), 45-50 years old women climbing 6c routes, young woman traversing Siberia for fun with a kid of 8 months, so please...

I see every week children climbing in 7 degree: see here photos of them.

So again, speak and think for you, not for the others. You know, this is some people here are doing very very difficult things, including women and young people...

Anna hat gesagt: still don't get it
Gesendet am 19. Dezember 2007 um 10:06
>you can do this and you have to judge your spouse's and kids' ability accordingly.

I still don't get it, even if it's already better than the previous version. But why should you judge the ability of your spouse? And for a not-married person, who will judge the ability? The father, the brother or maybe the imam?

Ken hat gesagt: RE:still don't get it
Gesendet am 22. Dezember 2007 um 04:50
Hey, there are a lot of unmarried folks on the site and that's great, but do you mind a post that is geared for the family person?--not the perfect person, but a real average father interested in showing his kids that the Alps can be as (if not more) entertaining than, let's say, Spongebob or Nintendo. A single person only has to judge their own ability--enjoy the freedom, but sometimes lonely perhaps. A family has to consider the others and lacks privacy, but companions are near at hand most-always. It's not frequently perfect, but if you don't consider the other members, this is he end of the family, so you have to make judgments and decisions all the time what others will think of your actions.

Listen, sorry for this topic, okay? I hope you can retain me as a member and next, I only post the facts about the hike, like "A women could NEVER do that without help [from a man]!"--no, just kidding, really. Let's lighten up, please and I'll stop refering to women as a group. Maybe we go on a hike sometime and you can leave me in your dust--I'm sure you would--then you could make a comment on men that 'think' they are hikers. Cheers and merry Weinachten. Und Frölich neujahr. We'll have more to say next year?

Anna Admin hat gesagt: RE:still don't get it
Gesendet am 22. Dezember 2007 um 19:01
Hi Ken,

Your answer is very educational.

In our culture, each person judge their own ability, independently from their marital status. The only exception are children that are under the limited responsibility of both parents; also, parents are equals, they have the same rights and the same obligations.

I understand that you come from another culture that is very different from our. For me your post is discriminatory, then it is inadequate for this site, visited mostly by Swiss and other European people. In the best case, some people will find it ridiculous. In the worst case, some people, like me, will be angry and will feel hurt by your affirmations.

As admin, I have to care about the image of my website.

So, I suggest you to find yourself a website for hikes for American families, where probably your comments will be appropriate and useful, and I ask you to don't post anymore here.

Thank you for your understanding.


ABoehlen Pro hat gesagt: World War I
Gesendet am 18. Dezember 2007 um 07:18
The bunkers, trenches and shelters had been built during World War I, so the sign "1922" sounds a bit strange to me. (The shelter on the peak Pt. 1041.8 is marked with "1915"). These buildings are part of the fortification system called "Hauenstein", which had to protect Olten, one of the major railway junctions in Switzerland.

Ken hat gesagt: RE:World War I
Gesendet am 19. Dezember 2007 um 00:55
Dear Aboehlen,

Thanks for the reply. Snow and ice and the desire to get on with the hike all caused me to not pay enough attention. The steel cap reminded me of what I'd seen at other WW1 sites, so thanks for the clarification. I'm looking for an English book on the history of Switzerland and I think the WW1 and WW2 era is probably a fascinating story of subtle positioning ("neutrality"). Do you have any recommendations for me that might help me learn more about my adopted home? Thanks!

ABoehlen Pro hat gesagt: RE:World War I
Gesendet am 20. Dezember 2007 um 07:26
Unfortunately I'm not an expert in such things. But we have some English bookstores in Switzerland (e.g. Stauffacher (3rd floor) in Bern or Orell Füssli In Zürich/Bahnhofstrasse), so I recommend yo to visit one of them and ask there.

Greetings, Adrian

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