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Fridlispitz-Brüggler (wasting time in dwarf pine)

Published by pave , 30 September 2016, 23h04.

Region: World » Switzerland » Glarus
Date of the hike:29 September 2016
Hiking grading: T5+ - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Geo-Tags: CH-GL   Oberseegruppe 
Time: 9:45
Height gain: 1867 m 6124 ft.
Height loss: 1311 m 4300 ft.
Access to start point:Public transport to Oberurnen Feuerwehrplatz
Access to end point:Cablecar (10 CHF) from Morgenholz down to Niederurnen

I've been reading for quite some time, but until now I haven't done a hike where my report would add anything to the already existing immense knowledge base. This is the first time and I hope not the last. :-)

I set out on this classic hike (described in many reports) with the intention to try and stick to the ridge as much as possible. I knew that a clean traverse, like the one described by ossi *here, is outside of my ability level, but I wanted to see which parts I would find easy and where I would need to back off.

Fridlispitz - Riseten
As soon as I reached Fridlispitz, I eagerly started implementing my "stay on the ridge" strategy. Therefore, I didn't follow the trail toward Riseten (which goes slightly south of the ridge) but instead headed into the trees and dwarf pines (Legföhren). That was a bad decision. The bushwhacking costed me a lot of time and didn't provide any spectacular views nor interesting scrambling in return. Time and again I had to head down (on the south side) a few meters to go around a particularly thick cluster, and then back up to regain the ridge. Also, a lot of ant colonies, so you have to be careful not to step into one.

At some point between Fridlispitz and Riseten, an overhanging rock face appeared in front of me. At first I thought that I was screwed and I'd have to go down and find the trail to continue on it, but after some looking around it turned out that the trail actually climbs this face from the right/north (so it stays clear of the overhanging part) with the help of a steel cable (see photo).

From Riseten, I again abandoned the trail and headed in more or less straight line toward Lochegg. Shortly below the summit, at the point where the trail turns left into the forest (south slope), I turned right. There were some rocky drops scattered around, but it turned out quite easy to navigate between them. Then down over steep grass along forest boundary and later a cow pasture to Lochegg (see photo).

From Lochegg a marked trail goes up to the east end of the Wageten ridge. I didn't attempt to gain the ridge from the east side as it was covered in too much pine for my taste and I was afraid it would make the climbing dangerous. Luckily, upon closer inspection of the south face I found an easy entry only a few meters later (see photo).

A short and easy ridge leads to the summit cross, or at least that's how it looked like until I got 2 meters from that cross. Before my hike, I had quickly read *ossi's report, which mentions a crevice before the summit, which one should "step over with a dynamic step". However, I hadn't skimmed through photos and somehow I assumed that the crevice would not pose a difficulty. Well, had I seen this photo, I would have known that the gap is more than 1 meter wide, with no flat area or obvious holds on the other side. I didn't dare to step over it unprotected, so instead I downclimbed into the crevice with the intention of looking for an exit from the ridge on the south side and joining the trail. Once at the bottom though, I found an easy traverse along the northern side of the summit rock and joined the normal route only a few meters from the cross.

Having already lost a lot of time between Fridlispitz and Riseten, and still a bit nervous from the downclimbing into the crevice, I decided to give up following the Wageten ridge further and use the trail instead. Especially that I didn't have a rope so I would have to look for alternatives to the rappelling section I remembered reading about.

At that point I decided to also postpone the exploration of the Brüggler ridge to another time, in the interest of leaving enough time to finish off the day with Chöpfenberg. It was quite hot in the sun, so I decided to take the northern traverse of Brüggler. This was another time where I should have read other reports more carefully beforehand, maybe then I wouldn't have missed the turnoff to the northern traverse. So I ended up taking the path along the base of the southern face (with many climbing parties on it), which cost me some unnecessarily lost elevation that I had to regain on the way to the summit.

Along the way I also climbed the rock with the metal Swiss flag on top, just to take a picture. The rock is (surprise!) sprinkled with dwarf pines, of which some clearly stand in the way while others are strong enough to serve as holds. Anyway, they definitely provide psychological advantage by hiding the exposure.

While resting on top of Brüggler, I checked the options of public transport back home from Innerthal (I had to be back at a specific time), and decided that instead of climbing Chöpfenberg (I'll be back!), I'd take the northern Brüggler traverse and then descend from Wänifurggel to Niederurner Tal. A secondary reason was that I had run out of water (the last water supply I could see was in Tschingel, shortly after the start in Oberurnen).

In order to end up on the correct path, one should head back the normal route down for several meters and only then turn east. I didn't know that and headed straight east from the summit cross, making sure to keep the rocks on my right side. I ended up on a narrow and very slippery path directly below the rocks and there was no easy way to descend to the correct path, which I could see below me the whole time. Only after struggling for 100 meters or so I was able to join the main path as it went through a small saddle. But, to my surprise, that didn't make the walking much easier. The whole path is mostly mud covered by wet grass and roots, which I didn't expect after 2+ dry days. Hiking poles were super helpful, but I still managed to slip and fall once. At one point there's even a long steel cable as the path crosses a small couloir, but I didn't find it very useful - perhaps it is earlier in the season.

The rest of the way down (from Wänifurggel to the cable car station) was pretty uneventful. Running water is available once you reach the valley floor.

Fridlispitz - 1:50
Riseten - 2:00
Wageten - 1:40
Brüggler - 2:00
Morgenholz - 2:10

I will definitely come back to climb the Chöpfenberg east ridge (and perhaps also attempt parts of the Brüggler ridge), but I'll probably skip Fridlispitz and Riseten as in my opinion they don't make for a very spectacular hiking compared to the "bigger brothers".

Hike partners: pave

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Comments (2)

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ossi says: sali
Sent 1 October 2016, 09h28
Thank you for sharing this report with us. The step over the crevice is not so easy. Now I read in your text that it is possible to climb down into the crevice? I will try this next time...

pave says: RE:sali
Sent 1 October 2016, 09h57
It is possible, although I must admit it made my heart beat faster. For an experienced climber likely no problem though.

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