Säntis from Wasserauen

Published by Stijn , 26 July 2013, 11h45.

Region: World » Switzerland » Appenzell
Date of the hike:21 July 2013
Geo-Tags: Alpstein   CH-AI   CH-SG   CH-AR 
Time: 10:00
Height gain: 1700 m 5576 ft.
Height loss: 1700 m 5576 ft.

"A long hike up Säntis for early risers. Let's start walking at 4am in order to get an Alpstein sunrise and to avoid the worst of the tourist in flip-flops coming up with the cable car. Who wants to join?" How I love kletterportal.ch already! Where else do people propose such great ideas (thanks Melanie!), without being dismissed as crazy, but instead finding four different eager participants?

So after very little sleep I made my way to the Hardbrücke railway station, to hop onto the night train. An early riser in hiking gear amongst a bunch of party-goers not thinking about going to bed yet. The ticket machines on the bridge annoyingly would freeze upon inserting my debit card... what to do now? The train arrived and I spotted two railway security people in high viz jackets. So a ran to them and asked for help. "Well, tickets aren't our responsibility," they said. "Where do you need to go?" "Only to Oerlikon," because from there I would get a ride in Melanie's car. "Well, just get on." So I got the short train ride for free.

At about 4.20am we set off from the car park at Wasserauen. It was still dark, but under the clear night skies headtorches were hardly necessary. As we ascended towards the Seealpsee, a red dawn appeared behind us, while ahead we caucht the first glimpses of Säntis, with a small red light blinking on top of the transmission tower. The only other people around are two guys sleeping under the skies on the shores of the Seealpsee.

A steeper ascent then towards Meglisalp. What a wonderful, wonderful view when Meglisalp first comes into view. Who expects to discover a tiny village, complete with church, as you would find pictured in fairy tale books, appear suddenly so high up on the mountain, in a little green valley surrounded by grand mountains, with the Altmann glowing in the morning sun in the background. Magnificent! We stopped for a breakfast break in Meglisalp and were offered some fresh milk, straight from the cow, by a local farmer. Delicious.

The idea of seeing an Alpstein sunrise ourselves didn't really work. When we finally saw the sun appear for the first time above the surrounding mountains, it was so high already that you couldn't really speak about a sunrise anymore. But it was still nice to be walking in the quiet morning atmosphere.

When we reached the Rotsteinpass hut, suddenly the quiet morning atmosphere was gone. Dozens of people were already crossing the Lisengrat, either having stayed the night at the hut, or coming from Säntis where the cable car was by now in full use. I was quite excited about the Lisengrat, but I must say I was slightly disappointed. It hardly feels likes you are doing a ridge, because the path hardly ever stays on the crest of the ridge. The path itself is exposed but generously secured. Not boring by any means, but there certainly are better (and less crowded) ridge paths arounds.

Approaching Säntis, a couple of huge snow fields had to be crossed. The busy traffic on the Lisengrad had trodden a flat, murky track through the snow fields, but still they weren't at all innocent, as a slip could have had very bad consequences here. I would have felt safer with an ice axe, to be honest.

The summit of Säntis then. We had a break at the restaurant, and afterwards I felt compelled to go up to the viewpoint at the actual summit. I quickly understood why the others did not feel so compelled, though. The summit is over-crowded with tourist, and the massive transmission tower and other concrete ugliness. And the hazy air meant that you couldn't even see that far. The Alpstein is nice in general, but Säntis is really a point where you want to pass through as quickly as possible.

We descended through Gross Schnee, and indeed another massive patch of snow to be crossed here, not the most comfortable hiking. We then went through the Wagenlücke towards Mesmer Berggasthaus. An ambitious initial plan to still do Schäfler and end at Ebenalp was obviously not going to happen, due to general tiredness, one knackered knee and fairly dark clouds moving in. So we descended further to the Seealpsee. Highly recommended, this descent from Mesmer to the Seealpsee, with non-stop great views.

"Is it really only 2pm?" Starting early has its advantages! A well deserved beer and ice cream at the Seealp restaurant, and then back to the car.

Lots of new ideas for walks in the Alpstein now. How about taking the first cable car up to Ebenalp, then along that ridge via Schäfler all the way to Säntis, across the Lisengrat, ascent of Altmann, then down via Jöchli / Moor towards Wildhaus. That would be an epic. Or the whole ridge from Hoher Kasten to the Saxerlücke, maybe with Marwees included as well. I'll need to come back here!

Hike partners: Stijn

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Comments (1)

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countryboy says: Yes, do come back! ;-)
Sent 26 July 2013, 22h24
Those ideas of yours sound all very interesting. Having done almost everything in the Alpstein, I promise, you'll love whatever hike you put together.

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