Lütispitz and Neuenalpspitz

Published by Stijn , 28 April 2014, 19h27.

Region: World » Switzerland » St.Gallen
Date of the hike:26 April 2014
Hiking grading: T4 - High-level Alpine hike
Geo-Tags: Alpstein   CH-SG 
Time: 6:00
Height gain: 1150 m 3772 ft.
Height loss: 1150 m 3772 ft.

Tom and me met up on Saturday for our second hike together, after our snow shoe ascent of the Schnebelhorn. The goal this time was the Lütispitz in the southern Alpstein, with the possibility of doing the ridge towards the Neuenalpspitz afterwards. Tom left his nine months pregnant girlfriend at home, so there was always a risk that he would get a phone call and would have to rush home, but luckily this did not happen :).
As usual, the weather brilliant sunshine during the week made way for rather cold and wet conditions as soon as the weekend arrived. We had to make the best of a short window of dry weather with a few sunny spells that presented itself on Saturday around noon.
The Lütispitz is just short of 2000m (1987m to be exact - always nice to find a peak for my year of birth), but sees a lot of sun. The warm winter and recent sunny weather meant that a snow-free ascent was already possible, and indeed had already been recorded a couple of times on Hikr in recent weeks. However, the cold, wet weather that has since taken over, has meanwhile brought fresh snow to these mountains. Hence, the conditions as described in this report are already completely out of date.
We park the car at the hairpin/junction at Scharten above Alt St. Johann, where there is enough asphalt to park a couple of cars without being in anybody's way. A couple of the Churfirsten vaguely appear between the clouds. As we ascent through the Böstritt we reach a small valley where a fabulous view across the Gräppelensee towards the Wildhuser Schafberg presents itself. Our own goal, the Lütispitz, also rises imposingly directly ahead.
A bridleway steadily ascends towards the Windenpass. From here the path becomes steeper, but remains easy. The steepest bit is an easy T3, after which you reach a cute little summit ridge which takes you to the summit of the Lütispitz in a matter of minutes. There are one or two negligible patches of snow that can be easily avoided.
We have lunch on the summit, with clouds blocking most of the panorama. Only towards the south, we enjoy a dramatic view down to the Gräppelensee, but also in this direction there are sadly no views into the distance to be had.
We decide to extend our hike with the Gmeinenwis and the Neuenalpspitz. If we can get around the snow field on the north face of the Gmeinenwis, that is. This looks a little problematic from the distance. Ascending from the Windenpass towards P. 1726, there already is a large unavoidable patch of snow, but the ground is not too steep for it to be problematic. At Alpli, as expected, a large, steep snow field blocks the marked path that ascends towards the Gmeinenwis. Luckily, we spot a route around it along the western edge of the snow. Unfortunately, this brings us to the ridge at a point where the normal route has already switched to the southern face of the mountain. We end up traversing back east along the ridge on some exposed terrain (T4-T5) before fighting our way though some bushes on the southern side of the ridge in order to reach the marked path again.
[In retrospect, I guess that not traversing back along the ridge, but instead ascending directly towards the Gmeinenwis summit, might have been easier. Going around the eastern edge of the snow field might have been an option as well; the terrain looked steeper here, but at least you would be able to cross to the other side of the ridge where the normal path does so. Or, with an ice axe, you could consider a direct ascent through the snow, but I hadn't even brought hiking poles.]
The descent of the Gmeienwis along its south-western ridge to P. 1728 is a lot easier. The north ridge of the Neuenalpspitz follows. Even though the clouds have descended again, so we don't have any views at all now, this ridge is the highlight of the day for me. It's a lovely and varied ridge path, never really difficult, but always interesting. There is some snow to be dealt with, but not on the most exposed spots. Mostly the ridge is T3, but the key sections (one secured with a cable, the other providing some grade I scrambling) could deserve a T4 grade. There are a few sections early on, where the path traverses below the ridge, yet the ridge itself seems to provide some exciting scrambling opportunities here. I'll have to give that a try next time. Even so, the path along this Neuenalpspitz north ridge is a proper ridge hike, exciting even in the clouds. I'd definitely be happy to do this one again, especially if the sun shines.
The summit log book of the Neuenalpspitz shows one entry from earlier in the day (a certain Elly). We ourselves don't come across a single other hiker all day. It's really surprising to be so alone in the Alpstein on a Saturday. But quite enjoyable actually, this solitude.
All that remains now is the descent, via Schlofstein, Hoor, Oberstofel and Risi. After a couple of sligthly tricky bits (T3) just below the Neuenalpspitz, it's all easy going. The kilometer along the road between Oberstofel and Risi is rather boring, but we begin to pick up a few rays of sunshine again, which is nice. We're back at the car after about six hours in the mountains. A day well spent.
I've done quite a few challenging hikes this spring already (e.g. the Leiterliweg on the Fläscherberg, the Sunnighorn above Wimmis), but this felt like the first real alpine hike of the year. Due to the more remote location and classic Alpstein scenery, I guess, even though the clouds hid most of that. The Neuenalpspitz north ridge is a real highlight, thoroughly enjoyable even in the clouds. It must be an absolute stunner with good visibility. I'm already looking forward to coming back to do this route in the sun.

Hike partners: TomM, Stijn

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