In sunny Amden again – Raaberg with snowshoes

Published by 360 Pro , 15 January 2009, 15h50.

Region: World » Switzerland » St.Gallen
Date of the hike:11 January 2009
Hiking grading: T5- - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Snowshoe grading: WT4 - High-level snowshoe hike
Geo-Tags: CH-SG   Speer-Mattstock 
Access to start point:cff logo Amden, Post
Access to end point:cff logo Amden, Vorderdorf

On this day I had an appointment to be in Arvenbüel shortly after 2 PM to walk to the Vorder Höhi and back. I didn’t only want to be in sunny Amden in the afternoon, but all day. Since I was on Gulmen and Stock a few days ago and in the SAC guide they discourage to go on Mattstock or Leistchamm at this time of the year due to protection of the wildlife, I decided to visit Raaberg again, this time with snowshoes.

Since I had the mentioned time constraints I took the chairlift up to Niederschlag and from there walked up to Walau, then to Schletteren and Bärenfall. Instead of going up to Raaberg (west, P. 1779) right away, I wanted to check out a couloir on the northeastern side of the ridge between Raaberg and Mattstock. It leads down to Wannen. I met two skiers on the previous weekend and they said they would go down that way. The local I talked to on the summit of Stock knew about it too. The couloir starts at the lowest point between P.1779 and P. 1785 and is >40°, pretty narrow, but actually looks quite promising (see this picture).

After a short break, I then traversed over and up to Raaberg. The slope on the west which leads up to P. 1779 is around 35° steep, was quite icy with only a little powder layer on top, for the way up no problem though. For the last few meters to the top I took my snowshoes off and climbed up more or less along the ridge. Thanks to chamois traces I actually saw a path on the northern side, which I haven’t noticed in my earlier visits. These last meters up to the top are rather exposed, no matter how you get up there (north, south or directly on the ridge) and I think T5 is probably an appropriate rating, even though the more I go up there the easier it seems…

I stayed up at the top for quite a while, because it is very interesting up there for several reasons. The view is very nice, be it down to Amden, the skiers at Bärenfall, over to the Alpstein/Churfisrten, the close-by Mattstock or Speer and of course the Glarner Alps. The south flank of Raaberg is very often snow free even in winter, because it is a south facing very steep mostly grassy slope. Therefore chamois find food there even in deep winter. You’ll almost certainly see chamois when looking down into the snow free parts of the south flank. They are used to the skiers and ski lift by now and are not afraid. Also, I am pretty certain they didn’t even notice me in my bird's eye view position. They looked pretty relaxed judging from this picture for example.

On my way down I then had a little moment of shock and an adrenalin rush: As I mentioned before, the rather steep slope (at least 35°) down to the top of the ski lift Bärenfall was quite icy with little powder on top. For a moment I didn’t pay attention, slipped, fell on my butt and started sliding downhill. I couldn’t stop for quite a long time (2/3 down, see this picture). Only after I turned around on my stomach and used both of my poles, my elbows and my snowshoes to break, I slowed down and finally got to a halt. Otherwise I probably would have landed right in front of the little guard hut on top of the ski lift. I’m glad I didn’t…

I then walked back down to Walau the way I came up and crossed over and down to get to Holzli. There I crossed the river and started walking towards Arvenbüel. Right then I got a phone call telling me that the person I was supposed to meet in Arvenbüel missed the train and wouldn’t be able to meet me any more. So instead of walking to Arvenbüel I slowly went down to Amden and caught the next bus at Vorderdorf.

cff logo Amden, Post – Niederschlag – Walau – Schletteren – Bärenfall – saddle between P. 1779 and P.1785 – Raaberg (west) – Bärenfall – Schletteren – Walau – Holzli – cff logo Amden, Vorderdorf

Hike partners: 360

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