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Hochmättli


Published by Stijn , 14 June 2015, 15h00.

Region: World » Switzerland » St.Gallen
Date of the hike:13 June 2015
Hiking grading: T4 - High-level Alpine hike
Waypoints:
Geo-Tags: CH-GL   CH-SG   Schilt-Mürtschengruppe 
Time: 6:30
Height gain: 1550 m 5084 ft.
Height loss: 1550 m 5084 ft.

With a last minute change in the weather forecast predicting better weather in the afternoon, rather than in the morning, I allowed myself a lie-in and only started for the Murgtal relatively late. After some issues with navigation (the Murgtal is not signposted anywhere), financials (a rather heavy 10 CHF has to be paid at a ticket machine at Untere Plätz for road access and parking; will be a good motivation to do a bike-and-hike here next time) and cows on the road, I arrived at the car park below Bachlaui around 11.30. Most people will come here for the "Murgsee Rundwanderung", but my aim was the mountain in the middle of that circular hike: the Hochmättli.

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Starting along the road to the Murgsee, a bridge soon appears on the right ("Bützbrücke"), from where an unmarked but obvious path climbs to the Alp Bütz (T2). From here, the path towards the saddle between Hochmättli and Silverspitz is less obvious. There is a final water source around 1730m altitude. The upper part of the ascent is rather steep (T4), but an easier route can probably be found by aiming more directly for the Hochmattli, rather than for P. 2156.

The saddle between Hochmättli and Silberspitz is occupied by a couple of crags which can be traversed directly (T4-T5 depending on choice of route) or avoided by going around on the north-western side. The summits of the Silberspitz and Hochmättli are comparatively easy to reach. The grassy peak of the Silberspitz is a beautiful viewpoint. The Hochmättli is slightly higher, but has a relatively boring, rounded summit. The views are dominated by the Mürtschenstock and the Fronalpstock to the west; both mountains are seen here from an unusual and spectacular perspective.

From the Hochmättli, I continue west along the ridge. The final descent towards P. 2119 involves some easy scrambling (T4; careful for loose stones; best route not obvious). The subsequent ridge from Chli Hochmättli to the Etscherzapfen is the highlight of the whole day. It's a perfect hiker's ridge: never difficult (mostly around T3), but spectacular and with great views to the Murgsee and to the surrounding mountains.

The ridge culminates in the Etscherzapfen. I don't fancy trying to climb the first rocky outcrop. PStraub wrote about this: "it can be climbed as long as you don't put any requirements on the quality of the holds (barely T6)". The next crag (P. 2210, with a nice little cairn) can be reached from the east. This involves climbing up a ca. 3 metres tall wall, which is exposed, but has little ledges that make good steps (T5 / I).

After having a rest on P. 2210, enjoying the unexpectedly sunny weather, I climb back down the little wall and then loop around the crag along the northern side. I descend some 80 metres in altitude before traversing over scree and snow back towards the ridge (T4). Looping around on the southern side would probably have been easier.

It's now a short and easy descent to the Murgseefurggel, the halfway point of the Murgsee hiking loop. One can follow the hiking route back to the car park in either direction. I choose the Mürtschen valley (T2; path suffering from erosion in places), with its lush green meadows and the wild waterfalls of the Gsponbach. It's been a really solitary hike. Even on the official hiking path, I only come across two other hikers, probably because it's already quite late in the afternoon. Driving back down to Murg, I give two further hikers a lift down into the village.

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The Silverspitz-Hochmättli-Etscherzapfen traverse is a varied hike in a beautiful landscape, ideal for people who like unfrequented paths. Note that the total ascent adds up to a fairly hefty 1550m, which is a bit more that what you might expect from looking at the map. Giving the route an overall grade of T4, I've excluded the Etscherzapfen P. 2210, which is an optional T5.

Hike partners: Stijn


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