Gauschla (via Chammegg, incl. Abgelöste), Girenspitz, Alvier

Published by Stijn , 26 June 2017, 23h37.

Region: World » Switzerland » St.Gallen
Date of the hike:18 June 2017
Hiking grading: T6 - Difficult High-level Alpine hike
Climbing grading: II (UIAA Grading System)
Geo-Tags: Alvier Gruppe   CH-SG 
Time: 6:45
Height gain: 1150 m 3772 ft.
Height loss: 1150 m 3772 ft.

After driving by car to Berghaus Palfries, madu, maenzgi and I set off towards the Chammegg route onto the Gauschla. After following the marked hiking path onto the crest, we walk up along the crest, first on an obvious path, which however gradually disappears as the terrain gets steeper. At ca. 2020m, we have to loop around the left of a crag, finding our own way up on steep grass-earth-Schofen terrain; not really difficult but somewhat uncomfortable. Reaching a short flat section of grass ridge on top of the crag (ca. 2070m), madu, maenzgi decide to abort their ascent. I continue on my own, first on similarly uncomfortable terrain, even slightly steeper than before, and with the added psychological challenge that it's not obvious where the route continues. I move towards the right as soon as possible, into the lower part of the grass ramp that leads to the Gauschla south ridge. Here the terrain gets extremely steep and exposed, but thankfully also with excellent large steps in the grass (T6, ice axe useful). Climbing like this, I reach the middle of the fixed cable and then follow the rest of the cable to the top the Chammegg near P. 2163. From here, the Gauschla summit is reached along its south ridge, which is a mix of easy grass and some excellent, pleasantly exposed ridge scrambling (T5).

The grade of the Chammegg route has already been extensively discussed, and I have no intention to revive that discussion. I just want to stress that the difficulty of this route seems to be particularly subjective. Steep grass experts are probably used to terrain that is still much more extreme. However, if you don't like steep grass, then this route might not be your cup of tea, even if you're perfectly fine on more rocky T6 routes.

While madu and maenzgi are executing their plan B (reaching Gauschla via Chemmi and the east face), I relax for a while on the summit. The views are absolutely stunning, especially towards the north-west, where the rugged peaks of Abgelöste, Alvier, Chli Alvier and Gamsberg are lined up one behind the other. I also have plenty of time to explore neighbouring peak of Abgelöste Gauschla. A clearly visible path leads along the Gauschla summit ridge for a little while, before traversing into the southwest face (somewhat exposed, but easier than it looks) to the incision between Gauschla and Abgelöste. At first I don't like the look of it, so I turn around and go to the small peak that's directly above the incision on the Gauschla side. From here, I observe how two hikers tackle the scramble through the incision and onto the Abgelöste: one solo hiker who had climbed the Chammegg-route behind me, and another guy that appeared out of nowhere. Later, this would turn out to have been tricky who had climbed *directly through the gully into the gap between Gauschla and Abgelöste.

Having regained some confidence after watching their example, I decide to give the Abgelöste another try myself. I go back to the incision and now I climb all the way down in the gap (II, less exposed than otherwise thanks to the remaining snow). On the other side of the gap, a path leads briefly to the north to reach a short but exposed scramble on delicate, brittle rock. The climbing is not hard in itself, but the rock is very untrustworthy, so you have to move particularly gently here (T6-). From the gap, it look like the terrain only gets steeper after this, but in fact it quickly gets easier and the summit of the Abgelöste Gauschla is reached without further obstacles. After taking some photos and entering my name into the iconic 1970 summit book, I climb back into the incision and return to the main Gauschla summit. Here, I just miss out on meeting tricky yet again, as he walks off to descend the Chammegg route.

I am reunited with madu and maenzgi soon afterwards. After our lunch break, I climb the Abgelöste for a second time, now together with madu. Then we descend into the Gauschla east face (T3) and subsequently we traverse along the 2070m contour (T4-) towards the Girenspitz. What looks on the map like an insignificant point overshadowed by the Gauschla, is in reality one of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring peaks in the Alps, especially when seen from the Gauschla side, with the Rhine valley in the background. For the perfect photo opportunity, leave someone with a camera around the saddle between Girenspitz and Gauschla, then walk to the other side of the Girenspitz along the foot of its south face, before following the east ridge towards the summit. The difficulties don't exceed T4 until the final 2m tall step before the summit, which is significantly trickier (T5+) because of the unstable rocks. It almost seems like the whole ridge might fall apart underneath you, if you are not careful here. A long sling or a some cord might suffice to take the edge off this scramble, if you find a solid rock to use as an anchor.

We traverse back through the Gauschla east face and further through the north face towards the hiking path at Chemmi. There's still a significant amount of snow here. An ice axe is useful, or otherwise you could traverse a little lower down in flatter terrain. The steep white-red-white hiking path onto the Alvier is generously secured with fixed cables, almost in Grosser Mythen style (T3+). After a drink at the hut, we descend back through the Chemmi (ladders) and on a spectacular path down to the car park at Palfries.

NB: the 6h45 total time does not include the second ascent of the Abgelöste or the extra long breaks.

Hike partners: madu, Stijn, maenzgi

Click to draw, click on the last point to end drawing


Slideshow Open in a new window · Open in this window

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