From Widderfeldstock to Arvigrat

Publiziert von Stijn , 24. September 2013 um 22:48.

Region: Welt » Schweiz » Nidwalden
Tour Datum:22 September 2013
Wandern Schwierigkeit: T5 - anspruchsvolles Alpinwandern
Klettern Schwierigkeit: I (UIAA-Skala)
Geo-Tags: Stanserhornkette   CH-NW   CH-OW   Östliche Melchtaler Alpen   Ruch- und Walenstockgruppe 
Zeitbedarf: 11:00
Aufstieg: 1600 m
Abstieg: 2600 m

When I'm on my own, I often like to push myself on a rather long hike. That was also the idea this Sunday: first climb the Widderfeldstock and the continue north along the ridge for as long as I feel like.
Wanting to be well-rested, I don't start particularly early. The 08:04 train from Zürich brings me via Luzern to Grafenort. The train to Engelberg is packed, but only three people get off at Grafenort. A 15 minute walk (T1, a bridleway along the river which is popular with mountainbikers) brings me to the little Rugisbalm cable car. This is the type of cable car where at the bottom end you have to use the telephone to call the operator at the other end, in order for him to take you up. In two sections the little cable car with a capacity of four people climbs to 1418m. A single costs just 8 CHF (return 12 CHF), not a bad deal.
After all that, it's already about half past ten when the hike properly starts. A bridleway (T1) leads up to the Lutersee, from where a smaller path (T3) continues up around Klein Storchen. Arriving at the saddle between Bockistock and Hohliecht, the summmit of the latter seems so close that I can't resist climbing up (T3, unmarked path). The actual summit (marked with a cairn) is a little further along than appears at first, but it's still only a diversion of a couple of minutes, recommended for the impatient who can't wait for the Widderfeldstock to stand on a summit.
It's another 250 vertical meters up to the Widderfeldstock. The path is marked until the saddle of Bocki-Rotisand, then unmarked but easy (T3). After seeing the wild crags of the Widderfeldstock from the north, the ascent from the south is almost disappointingly easy, up a gentle grassy slope. But the 360° view on the top is certainly worth it.
I had researched the direct descent from Widderfeldstock to Storegg on the internet, and it seemed to be a feasible option. Another solo walker, who had by coincidence ascended with me in the same cable car and who has been doing the same route until here, joins me on the descent. That's nice, because the descent is near the limit of what I'm confident doing by myself. At first you continue west along the summit ridge (fun scrambling over some rocks) until a path (T4, clearly marked with single lines of red paint) goes down to the right. At first you traverse an uncomfortable scree slope that steeply drops on the left. I'm certainly glad to have my hiking poles with me here, for some extra points of contact with the ground. Then it gets less steep and more grassy. The red marks disappear when you join the path that comes over from Bocki, but the trail is still clearly visible on the ground. It suddenly turns sharply left into the Chrachen, a gap in a steep escarpment. Standing at the top, it seems completely impossible to get down such a steep drop. I'm already thinking that this can't be the correct way down, but my companion persists and indeed: once you are following the obvious way down it's surprisingly alright (T4, easy scrambling). The rest of the way down to the Storegg saddle is a delightful path directly on the ridge.
My companion now descends back to the cable car, but I'm still going strong and continue north along the ridge. Directly after Storegg, I follow what seems to be the main path, but that suddenly reaches a dead end, which leaves me scrambling up a steep scree slope to the actual path which has already climbed up to the right. (I'm not the first Hikr to get confused here.) The path (T3, slightly more difficult where damaged by landslides) now traverses west of the summits of Storegghorn / Lachenhörnli and Balm. The view opens up for a moment at the Lachengrätli, before the path disappears into the forest again for the ascent of the Steinigberg. The path (T3) climbs steeply through the forest with many zigzags, logs on the ground clearly blocking every wrong turn, and fallen trees also blocking the correct way at a couple of places. Ascending out of the forest, a rugged landscape presents itself. Taking away the surroundings, I'd almost guess that I'm in the Lake District. Fantastic views in different directions appear one by one, until I reach the summit of the Steinigberg / Schluchigrat where the whole 360° panorama is complete. Absolutely stunning. Incredible to have the whole view to myself as well. I'd almost use the word spiritual. Even the main path doesn't even bother to go up onto the actual summit. Hard to understand, when with so little effort you can get such a reward. Maybe the path couldn't figure out which of the different local summits was the highest, and in despair decided to miss out on all of them.
Continuing along the ridge to the Wagenleis, it suddenly becomes clear why there aren't more people on this route. Some difficult scrambling (T4 according to the signs, but at least T5/I I'd say) down and then back up again, which certainly should not be attempted by people whose hands haven't touched rock before. Apparently there once was a footbridge across this gap, but now there are only some fixed ropes to help you, and they actually don't look too trustworthy either. Watch out for falling rocks as well if there are other people around. Once more I'm reaching the limit of what I'm comfortable with doing on my own, but with care and some professional use of my bum, I get across safely.
The Schluchberg is the next summit on the ridge. There is a path going around it on the eastern side, if you want to avoid the direct descent, which again is quite tricky: a slanted ledge where it is often not obvious where you can securely make your next step (T4). This would certainly be easier the other way around, taking the difficult section on ascent.
The Schingrat is next on the ridge. It is ascended without major difficulties on a steep grass slope (T4+) and provides some more exciting ridge walking. I'm just thinking how exceptional it is that you can actually hike all along such an exciting ridge, but the fun is over with the final summit of the Schingrat. From the south, it's a thrilling but straightforward ascent over a narrow grassy ridge. On the north however, a crag drops down about 20 vertical meters. Not something that I fancy climbing down. Alternatives are not obvious. I end up descending down a very steep grass slope on the west, then ascending back up on some steep scree along the bottom of an escarpment (T5 at least). Not really a recommended route I must say. There is actually a path that goes around the entire Schingrat on the eastern side. This is hard to distinguish on the 1:50.000 hiking maps, so make a note of it if you are going here and want to avoid major difficulties.
Things get a lot easier now with the rather indistinct summit of the Gräfimattstand and the more interesting Gräfimattnollen (T3, ascent and descent on the south-west slope). It's getting towards 6pm now, and my water has run out. That's the one disadvantage of a ridge hike: there's no water anywhere. The Arvigrat ahead looks great in the evening sun, but that'll be for another time. Instead I plan to head down to Kerns. Past P. 1897 there is a faint track going left into the woods, with signs for both Arvigrat and Kerns seemly pointing straight ahead. I'm in doubt for a moment, but then decide that it must mean that the track to the left doesn't actually go anywhere (it looks quite overgrown anyway) and that I have to keep going straight. It quickly becomes apparent however that the path down to Kerns went left there after all. But as I'm going now, I figure I might as well go on and do the Arvigrat (T3) after all. The ascent from the south is an absolute delight again: a very narrow ridge where you better have a head for heights, but a smooth path makes walking along it particularly simple. North of the summit, the path becomes rougher but less exposed.
The descent from the Arvigrat through the forest towards Ächerli seems to take ages. When I'm finally near the mountain village of Wirzweli, it's getting dark already, especially since I'm now descending on the eastern side of the mountain. This is why I packed a head torch in the morning. I've got everything I need for descent in the dark, including a very welcome refill of my water bottles. The asphalted road on the mountain would usually annoy me, but now it comes in quite useful. I start to ignore any footpath signs for Dallenwil, considering the road to be certainly the safest, and likely also the quickest way down in the dark. I could probably have hitched a ride as there are a couple of cars driving down from the alp, but that feels like cheating. Or call it stubbornness, if you like. I happily wave the cars past, as the plan of descending down the road works smoothly. I make it down to Dallenwil beating the signpost times by almost hour. I reach the Dallenwil railway station around 21:15, after almost 11 hours on the mountain. Railway replacement buses are operating, but they run smoothly, bringing me back to Zürich around eleven.
Conclusion: Last minute planning meant that there were a few surprises on the route. Beforehand I had only researched the descent from the Widderfeldstock to Storegg, which on the map seemed potentially the most problematic. I had not expected the difficulties on the section from Storegg to Arvigrat. Luckily everything was still just about within my capabilities. Any harder and I might have been in trouble, but as it was, the route provided challenges perfectly measured to my level. A hike in perfect weather that gave me much more excitement than I ever imagined at the start. A day to remember.

Tourengänger: Stijn


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Kommentare (2)

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stephen Pro hat gesagt:
Gesendet am 25. September 2013 um 21:34
Nice report, hope to see more of these :-)

Stijn hat gesagt: RE:
Gesendet am 25. September 2013 um 22:45
Cheers Stephen.
(I've now actually finished the report, writing the conclusion and making some corrections.)

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