Graustock Klettersteig

Publiziert von Stijn , 12. August 2013 um 21:46.

Region: Welt » Schweiz » Obwalden
Tour Datum:11 August 2013
Klettersteig Schwierigkeit: ZS
Geo-Tags: Östliche Melchtaler Alpen   CH-BE   CH-NW   CH-OW 

With the SBB "Vier Seen Wanderung Sommer-Hit" special offer, you get a train to Engelberg, cable car/ski lift to Jochpass, cable car down from Melchsee-Frutt, Postauto from Stöckalp to Sarnen and a train back home, all at 50% off. That means only 28.80 CHF from Zürich HB (with Halbtax) for the whole shebang. Pretty good value. Immediately when I heard about the offer, a light flashed in my head telling me: this can be perfectly combined with the Graustock Klettersteig! The SBB offer ends next weekend already (though afterwards you can still get 20% off), so it was about time to make use of it. I posted the suggestion on and ended up with two companions.
The promised uninterrupted sunshine did not show up, and instead we had to settle for a mix of patches of sunshine and many clouds hugging the mountains. This I declare to be one of the worst kinds of mountain weather. Because you don't get the blue skies or the distant panoramic views you had hoped for, yet you still get the sunburn, especially because it doesn't *seem* sunny so you don't pay attention to applying sunblock properly... At least that's the mistake I made, and not for the first time.
When the train arrived at Engelberg at 08:53, it was positively frightening to see the massive crowd of people getting off. At the same time, coach-loads of tourists were arriving at the valley station of the Trübsee cable car. Luckily, the cable car works very efficient, and there was not much of a wait. In Trübsee, many people will have continued onto Titlis, because it was a lot calmer on the Jochpass ski lift. The approach to the Klettersteig starts directly at the Jochpass station. The Klettersteig itself was busy, as is to be expected on a relatively nice Sunday, but not problematically so.
There is a short section secured by a cable about halfway on the approach, The real via ferrata however only starts with a steep section shortly before the summit of the the Schafberg. A couple of moves are interesting, then it gets a lot easier. An walking intermission follows, approaching the impressive pillar, a vertical wall about 70 meters tall, which forms the crux of the via ferrata. Initially you go up boring ladders, but then a slightly overhanging section provides more interesting and challenging moves. Once on top of the pillar, there is another stretch of normal walking on which you encounter the junction with the descent route. The final section of the via ferrata (much easier than the pillar but enjoyable and pleasantly exposed) needs to be done in descent as well. The end point is the summit of the Graustock at 2661 meters.
All along, the sun was shining on the south side of the via ferrata, above the Engstlensee, but clouds where sticking to the north face, stopping us from getting much of any views down the steep rockface towards Engelberg. Only on the summit, the clouds opened towards the north a couple of times.
As we prepared to leave the summit, a woman's scream could be heard. Sadly, it turned out that an accident had indeed occurred on the upper via ferrata section, which we had to use for the descent as well. The woman must have slipped and done her leg in. She seemed ok but clearly in a lot of pain with every slight movement. A lot of people where already around, and a well-prepared man was just cleverly installing a rope allowing people to get around the injured person. Hence we didn't linger and just got on. Fifteen minutes later, the Rega rescue helicopter appeared, and we were able to watch the action from a save distance.
The helicopter first inspected the accident site. Then it flew back down, apparently to pick up a mountain rescuer. The rescuer then amazingly jumped directly from the hovering helicopter onto a fairly exposed ridge. The helicopter left him to treat the victim for a while, before coming back to winch the pair into the helicopter. It subsequently landed on the closest reasonably flat spot of grass lower down, apparently to further treat the victim / make her more comfortable before flying to hospital. By coincidence, this landing spot was along our descent route, so we got another spectacle watching the helicopter take off once more from close by. I wish a speedy recovery to the victim.
The guidebooks say that the descent (and hence also the ascent!) of the Klettersteig is not to be attempted in bad visibility, and there proved to be truth in this. We even missed the normal descent path, which goes does into the Schaftal somewhere, and we had perfect visibility! I'll take the distraction of the helicopter as an excuse. We just continued our descent west, passing north of Gwärtler. This proved to be a largely pathless but gentle and completely problem-free descent route, without any real dangers apart from twisting your foot on the many irregular limestone pavement formations. This is opposed to the normal descent route, which allegedly is much steeper and more exposed, with a few sections protected by cables. In bad visibility, I would therefore strongly recommend ignoring the normal descent, instead taking a bearing just south of directly west (about 260 degrees) from where you exit the via ferrata route, following our route north of the Gwärtler, until you inevitably hit a marked path or bridleway and can reorientate yourself.
Once we got to Tannalp, the nicest part of the day was over. Development for tourism of the mountains is necessary to a certain point, but it can go too far. Asphalted roads and a bloody tourist train? And the worst was yet to come, the disturbingly ugly Frutt Lodge hotel, an eye sore that ruins the whole Melchsee area.
So down we went with the cable car to Stöckalp, where the Postauto takes you to Sarnen railway station. Now, I might be getting spoiled by the usually excellent connections in Swiss public transport, but this service is a bit rubbish. There is one service per hour, but there were enough passenger to fill the three provided buses to the last standing spot. It was quite obvious that 90% of the passengers where headed towards Luzern and Zürich. But instead of timing the service to connect with the InterRegio to Luzern, or at least having at least one of the three buses doing so, the one good connection is for the S-Bahn to Giswil only... Postauto must have been bribed by the restaurant at Stöckalp, which was doing great business from people waiting for the bus, I can think for no other explanation...

Tourengänger: Stijn


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