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Grosser Mythen

Published by Stijn , 13 October 2013, 21h06.

Region: World » Switzerland » Schwyz
Date of the hike:13 October 2013
Hiking grading: T3 - Difficult Mountain hike
Geo-Tags: Mythengruppe   CH-SZ   Nördliche Muotataler Alpen   Alptaler Berge 
Time: 4:30

What a beautiful day. And to think that I almost couldn't be bothered to get out of bed! Sadly, it was to be the last trip of my beloved camera, but still I don't regret going out.
My weekends have been pretty packed lately, so I was looking forward to a more relaxed weekend this time. Also the recent snowfall made me a little unsure: what would the conditions be like and which routes would still be possible? On the other hand, I quite wanted to take my new car out for a ride, and that could be nicely combined with a short walk and a taste of the fresh snow. I checked Hirk on Saturday evening and read the report by Bombo of his ascent that day of the Grosser Mythen. That still looked like a viable option, and it would be nice to do the Grosser Mythen without too many tourists around. Still, I couldn't quite make up my mind, and I decided to check the weather in the morning.
I overslept on Sunday morning, and when I finally woke up it still looked quite gray outside in Zürich. When I finally stumbled out of bed, it had passed ten, and I had pretty much resigned myself to having a lazy day in Zürich. Just to confirm my decision I looked up the Grosser Mythen webcam on the internet. Holy Moly! Blue skies and glorious sunshine! Is this really possible? I double check the timestamp, but the webcam image is really up to date. I can't miss out on this! Suddenly I'm wide awake, and I jump into action.
Now, what will the conditions be like? What gear to take? Obviously warm clothes, winter boots and hiking poles. The brilliant Kathoola Microspikes also go into the bag without any hesitation. Ice axe? Bombo apparently didn't take one the previous day. Still, with the motto "better a heavy rucksack than a dead hiker", I attach my ice axe to my bag. Helmet? Bombo speaks about some falling rocks on the route, but I figure that if things are actually bad enough to warrant wearing a helmet, then I should really turn back anyway, so the helmet stays at home.
After taking care of the formalities (hiking map, Autobahn vignette), I'm on the road to Ibergeregg. Even though it's gone noon by the time I get there, I still manage to park in one of the free parking spots on the verge of the road, just on the Schwyz side of the pass. Though there is snow on the fields, the bridleway to Holzegg itself is completely snow free. It's immediately clear that I brought way to many warm layers. It's properly warm in the sun, and quickly I'm down to my baselayer.
The ascent of the Grosser Mythen itself is also free of snow to a large extent. A clear trail has already been broken across any snow that needs to be crossed. Only towards the summit, when the path goes around to the north face, there are a couple of zigzags where the path is iced up. Just enough to make it worthwhile to put on the Microspikes during the descent; at least I didn't bring them for nothing. The ice axe however is completely useless. The hiking poles come in useful, but there are also plenty of hikers managing well without. There are even a few tourists going up in what can only be called 'inappropriate footwear'. I hope they didn't do anything stupid on the iced up section. As you notice, it wasn't the quiet day on the Grosser Mythen that Bombo described yesterday. Dozens of people were on the mountain (with at least two Hikrs amongst them as well), but I suppose it must still get a lot worse in summer.
The path up onto the Grosser Mythen itself didn't really live up to its fame. The path is rather uninteresting for the seasoned hiker, with just one more interesting feature: a 15 meter long narrow ridge known as the Bändli. The ascent can't be called boring thanks to the views, but still the best views are hidden most of the way. The little sister of Kleiner Mythen is out of view until the Bändli, and the views towards Vierwaldstädtersee and Rigi remain hidden until the very summit. But then the view on the summit is quite something. Vierwaldstädtersee - Rigi - Pilatus - Lauerzersee - Zürich - Säntis - Glärnisch - Bös Fulen - Tödi - Fronalpstock. Even Mönch is visible if you know where to look. Sometimes, with mountains that are such an iconic sight in the region, like Grosser Mythen, the view from the top is disappointing, because the most interesting feature is missing from the panorama: the very mountain that you are standing on. However, with the Grosser Mythen, this is certainly not a problem!
Then my photo camera came to a tragic end. I know that I'm quite liable to dropping cameras, so normally I have mine attached with a mini-carabiner to a strap on my bag. On the summit, however, I had taken off my bag, and my camera was now attached to my wrist with the wrist strap. I had also put on gloves, because I had been standing on the summit for a while now, and my hands had gotten a little chilly. A couple asked my to take their picture at the summit cross with their smartphone. I took off my glove to use the touch screen, not realizing that the wrist strap of my camera was actually not hanging from my wrist, but hanging from that glove. So off came the glove, and down came the camera. I landed on the lens, and that was it. R.I.P. Now of course the couple who wanted their picture taken felt sorry about 'causing' the accident, poor guys, I've got nobody to blame but myself. Luckily, I had taken a lot of pictures from the summit already, so I didn't miss out too much.
On the way back, I made a detour over Rotenflue. No photos from here for obvious reasons, but the view from the Rotenflue is not quite as spectacular as on top of the Grosser Mythen anyway. Most interesting discovery: an old cable car cabin that has been put to use as a "self service alp products shop". It contains a money box, a price list and a fridge with cheese, jam, etc. If you want to buy something, you can just take it out of the fridge and put the money in the box. Amazing that people up here are trustworthy enough for this to be a viable system.
In conclusion: the hike was easier (i.e. less snow) than I expected. Normally the Grosser Mythen is a T3, currently it is rather T4 due to the bits snow and the short iced up section after the Bändli. Do note that conditions are likely to change quickly in the coming days, so always make a proper assessment of the conditions and of your own abilities before going up. Ibergegg to Holzegg and Rotenflue is just T1 really. The weather was amazing. I'm so glad that I did go out in the end, even though my camera didn't survive the day. At least its last pictures were some really good ones.
Next weekend I'll be back in the UK, with hopefully a brand new camera to bring some views of the lovely English Lake District on Hikr.

Hike partners: Stijn

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