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Speer at sunset

Published by Stijn , 7 July 2014, 23h07.

Region: World » Switzerland » St.Gallen
Date of the hike: 3 July 2014
Hiking grading: T5 - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Climbing grading: I (UIAA Grading System)
Via ferrata grading: PD
Geo-Tags: Speerkette   CH-SG   Speer-Mattstock   Zürcher Hausberge 
Time: 4:00

With daylight until late in the evening, I was hoping to get in some after-work hikes this season. Proper hikes I mean, not just a stroll on the Uetliberg. Until now however, either the weather wasn't right, or I had other commitments such as work or watching football games... Last Thursday, everything finally came together, and I set off for a sunset ascent of the Speer. I wasn't able to leave work quite as early as I had hoped, so I hit the peak of evening rush hour leaving Zürich. It was well past 7pm by the time I finally reached the car park at Mittlerwengi.


Being behind schedule, I start walking at considerable pace, until I realize that I'm not doing myself any favours by working up such a sweat. I slow down a little, yet I still reach Obere Rossalp with the sun still shining brightly. So I decide that I might as well try the route over Chli Speer. I approach on the north ridge. The crags at the summit look quite daunting, and indeed prove to be quite a challenge. I can't find the good scrambling described in other reports here on Hikr. Instead I ascend mostly over very steep patches of grass (T5-T6). The route is quite committing, as the slope gets ever steeper, and once you start going up, there's no easy way back down. I'm quite relieved when I reach the summit (cross + log book). The view is fantastic, with the Alpstein massif especially beautiful in the evening sunlight. Towards the west, the Zürisee is the highlight of the panorama, while in the background the characteristic shapes of the Mythen, Pilatus and Rigi catch the eye. More in the foreground finally, Chüemettler, Grappenhorn, Federispitz and the north face of Speer are glowing in the sunlight, something you wouldn't get to see when you come here in the middle of the day.

On the south side of Chli Speer, there's a easy path going down (T3), leading towards a small intermediate peak between Chli Speer and Speer. I again go for a direct ascent, which once more takes me onto some steep patches of grass. It's less severe than my route on Chli Speer, but still deserves a T5.

Having taken longer than anticipated on these secondary peaks, my goal of being on the summit of Speer for sunset now seems unlikely. I decide to go for it anyway. Because I'm not sure about the exact difficulty of the Kletterweg, I put on my harness and Klettersteigset at the bottom just to be on the safe side. Indeed, I end up securing myself on a few of the more exposed passages. Though maybe not completely worthy of the status of via ferrata, the Speer Kletterweg is certainly more via ferrata-like than e.g. the protected route on the Simmenflue. Via ferrata guidebooks tend to describe the Kletterweg as 'badly secured', but as long as you don't expect via ferrata with a continuous cable, it's actually not that bad. I never feel any need for protection where there isn't a cable available, but of course I've had a good warm-up on Chli Speer. It would be a fun exercise to do the whole route without making use of the cables, but since I'm running a little late, I use the cable to pull myself up without much restraint... I still fail to reach the summit for sunset, though. The sun disappears behind the Black Forest summit of Belchen (120 km away) as I still have a few minutes of Kletterweg to complete.

The Speer summit log book has plenty of entries with the same date, but (not unsurprisingly) nobody has stayed around for this long, and I have the summit to myself. The 360° panorama, unfortunately without sunshine now, is still jaw-dropping. It's tempting to stay up here all night, but I don't want to show up at work the next morning without a shower and a change of clothes, so I have to back get down.

The first kilometre of the descent, which follows the south-west ridge of Speer, makes for great hiking. It's marked white-red-white, but I've certainly been on white-blue-white routes that are easier. I'd grade this path as an easy T4, though maybe it's the darkness that makes it a bit more difficult for me. When it gets dark enough for me to start using my headtorch, I once again have a better focus on the irregularities of the path. All the while, the view of the Zürisee ahead is simply unbelievable, the lake surface brightly reflecting the orange sky, while cars and street lights paint yellow dotted lines trough the darkness of the surrounding countryside.

As the path turns away from the ridge, the beautiful Zürisee view unfortunately disappears. Darkness is now complete, and the rest of the descent is rather boring. The path is mostly easy to follow by headtorch, though around P. 1552 I lose the makings for a while. It's no big deal, since the terrain is not so steep here any more. I can just make my own way down here, though that requires some concentration the dark, so I'm glad when I find the path again. Difficulties are not over yet though: cows in the middle of the path! I might not have much fear of cows normally, but in the dark they are properly scary! Going around then in a wide circle, I reach the farm road at Hinterwengi. From here it's all smooth back to the car park. It's been only four hours, but what an adventure!


It's well known that the mountains are most beautiful at sunrise or at sunset. It takes some commitment (as well as confidence with night time navigation and walking by the light of a headtorch) to experience this without an overnight stay in an alpine club hut. But the rewards can be plentiful, as the photos to this report undoubtedly prove. (With many thanks to for supporting my obsessive tagging of said photos.)

Hike partners: Stijn

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


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Comments (2)

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ABoehlen says:
Sent 8 July 2014, 06h46
Many thanks for these great pictures! As I've read here, it was possible to see noctilucent clouds in the night from thursday, 3rd to friday, 4th July. Have you seen them too?

Best regards

Stijn says: RE:
Sent 8 July 2014, 09h10
Cheers Adrian. No, I did not see any noctilucent clouds unfortunately.

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