Meeting a good friend in the Swiss Mountains

Posted on 14 Juli 2014 | 1 response

Making trips with good friends is excellent, but when you have the chance wo meet outdoor enthusiasts from other countries it is superb. Such a chance I had last year. Jotaro the owner from Locus Gear was at the UL Summit in Finland and after that trip Willi and myself had the chance to meet him in the Swiss mountains for another trip.

One day before I travelled with Willi to Switzerland and we decided to stay for the night at the parksite at Buffalora, where we wanted to meet Jotaro in the early morning on the next day. Late in the evening we arrived in Buffalora and it was too late to pitch a shelter next to the street, so we decided to drive back to Müstair for a cold beer and a snack in a restaurant and spend the night in my car.

A bit later in the morning Jotaro arrived at Buffalora and after a warm welcome, a hot coffee and repacking our packs we started our journey through the Val Mora. The snow conditions was not really perfect, but for some sections we needed snowshoes or skis. The sun made himself scarce and the war an icy wind.

 

We progressed slowly because we had to talk so much and everyone stopped for a photo here and a photo there. This time we followed the normal path up to Jufplaun and at an open water source we made a stop to refill our water bottles. It started to snow and the wind got stronger and fog was added. The old costums house at Jufplaun gave us protection from the wind and we decided to stay there for a lunch break with a hot soup and a tea. Wind and snowfall were persistent and did not stop, so it was really hard to find the right way when there is no god view.

Sometimes the sun came out and brought some light to the dim plateau. And suddenly there was the way down into the Val Mora. We stopped and took off our skis and snowshoes because the snow on that path was blown away by the strong wind.

Down in the valley the wind was still strong, but snowfall stopped. In the afternoon we arrived at the Alp Val Mora, a big old alpine house with some newer stables for the cows in summer. What to do now? Walking into the valley and looking for a nice campsite or spending the night at the Alp Mora in that old clean cowshed next to fragrant hay. There were no long consideration. We stayed in the cowshed for the night. It was to early for dinner so we explored the area around the Alp and collected some wood for a fire in the evening.

Sun came out, but it was still cold and windy. After a while we went back to the cowshed and prepared our bivouac for the night. The sun was only of short duration and wind and snow came back.

In the evening we made a small fire to boil some water for our dinner and a warm tea.Jotaro gave my some instructions in the Japanese cuisine and it was really delicious what he made. On this evening we all went early into bed, because everyone of was were tired because of the cold weather and the long journey to Switzerland one day before.

During the night the thermometer went down to -12°C and the wind stopped. In the morning we had perfect conditions and an excellent view out of the cowshed.

Sun was rising. The sky was blue and only some small clouds were there. That could only be a good day.

We all crawled out of our warm sleeping bags to make some photos of this fantastic morning, but declined rapidly to put a warm down jacket on. After a warm coffee and cereals we had enought power for the day.

The conditions on that morning were perfect. Sunshine and a slightly breeze. Plan on that day was to cross the Val Mora and reaching the area around Müstair for the night and making lots of photo stops.

After an hour of walking we found a nice spot for Jotaro to make some photos of the new Menkaura Shelter for the homepage. It took some time until we continued on the path through the valley.

At the Chasa La Stretta we stopped for another short photo break and refilled the water bottles. The snow became less and we did not really need the snowshoes and skies. An hour later we made an late lunch break before we went doewn into the valley to reach Müstair.

Our lunch break was so excessive that we had to refill the water bottles again. This time it was a bit more difficult to reach the water so we had to improvise by using the trail pole.

Slowly we reached the snowlevel and the ground was slippery and wet. But then it happened. Jotaro injured his ankle on the downhill. He could continue the way, but not in that speed he wanted. At a nice cabin we stopped again to cool Jotaro’s ankle and to see what we do.

The Bushbuddy was running very quickly and water for a tea was boiling. During that time we had a look into the map to find a campsite which is not too far away. Perfect. We found a spot in the map and had to walk only an hour to that place.

The area were we spent the night was flat and some bigger trees where we could sit in the evening were around us. We pitched our shelter and collected some wood and before we started to cook be built a wall with tree banches to get some protection from the wind.

The evening was really relaxed with an excessive dinner and it was still a pleasure to see and tastewhat Jotaro made with his small kitchen. Jotaro and myself enjoyed of good dram of Scotish Single Malt after the dinner and went to bed.

 

 During the night the temperature went down to -10°C and I slept very well in the Locus Gear Pneuma eVent bivy. A perfect bivy for winter trips.

A selfie in the morning before we went down to Müstair.

On the way down we had a fantastic conversation with Jotaro and he told us something about the meaning of the names of its products. Many names of his products are from the Greek and Egyptian mythology.

This footbridge was completly covered in snow and ice and we were happy that we did not have to cross him.

Back in Müstair we entered a small supermarket and a bakery to buy some delicious food for our last evening at Buffalora. After that we waited for the bus which brought us back to Buffalora. The warm sun sweetened us the waiting time.

Even in the Val Müstair you have to be careful with your garbage. Bears are everywhere not only in Canada.

Back at the cars we tried all our equipment and packed the packs for a last night next to the parkside.

Three days of hiking go by very quickly and we were all sad that everybody had to go home on the other day. On the last evening we made some nice night photo shots of the Locus Gear tents and enjoyed the last dram of whisky at the campfire. What a nice short trip.

 

 

Last but not least I wanna thank Jotaro for coming to Switzerland. It was a pleasure to meet you and I hope we can do something like this in the future again.
Willi does not have a blog, but he made some superb photos which you can find on his flickr album.

 

OutDoor Show 2014 Preview

Posted on 10 Juli 2014 | 2 responses

One year is over and the doors of the OutDoor Show in Friedrichshafen will open from today until Sunday. Lots of new and interesting gear is shown there and many interesting people are at the show to present their products or just to have a look at the new gear. Before the show starts I want to pick up some higlights.

NW Alpine presents a new and redesigned model of the Eyebright Jacket. This one is one of the lightest waterproof breathable jackets on the market and is made with a special Cuben Fiber.

 

The EvoLite mat from Therm-A-Rest is the future of self inflation. It is a mix between foam and air mat and with 480g one of the lightest self inflation mats on the market.

Kupilka, the company from Finland which makes fantastic dishesware and cutlery comes along with a knife. It is a new design of the old traditional Finnish knifes and it is made with steel and natural fiber composite.

Polaris Optifuel is the new stove from Optimus. You only need one yet and can boil different fuel without changing the yet. You also have a 4 season gas mode for more power on cold winter trips.

Primus from Sweden present at the Outdoor Show a special Winter Gas. It improves the low temperature performance of LP gas cartridges by using a unique innovation inside the cartridge: Vapour Mesh. This gas will work down to temps of -22°C.

No year without a new lightweight tent from Terra Nova. They will present the Laser Ultra 2, the lightest 2 person tent on the market with 695g and it is made with Cuben Fiber. But that’s not all. The TN Solar Ultra 2 is the lightest free standing tent and it is also shown at the OutDoor Show.

Last but not least I have to say, that I am not at the OutDoor Show this year, because my son is more important. It is a bit sad not to meet all my blogger friends and companies. No daily news on my blog and now parties, but no worries.

There are lots of other blogger at the show and the write daily updates of the news or some articles after the OutDoor Show. So have daily look at the blog Hiking in Finland and on his Facebook and Twitter account. He will write daily updates of the news. And you should also check the blogs from Dennis and Sven. They are also there and keep you update with all the news.

With Altai Hoks in the Swiss Mountains

Posted on 1 April 2014 | No responses

The winter was a total failure, so why should not I post a short report of trip from last year winter and the experiences with the Altai Hoks 145.

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My last trip on New Year’s Eve was not successful. OK we were a really cool  group, but in the end I disappointed the others with my broken snowshoes and we had to cancel this trip. Hope we can do it again guys. But I did not wanna finish my winter season with this canceled trip, so I contacted Anatol to ask if he have some time for a last trip. This time I did not wanna use snowshoes and I decided to buy some Altai Hoks 145 skis, telemark boots and binding. This was a complete new experience for me. Until then I made my only  ski experiences on BC skis on a prepared trail. It was an crazy experience to go without ski skills into the mountains, but I wanted to try it.

This time we arrived at Buffalora late in the evening and we decided to spend the first night in the car to get up quick in the morning. The conditions were perfect and Anatol played with his new Nikon D5100 camera and a fish lens in the evening and he made superb photos.

After a ham and eggs breakfast we packed everything and were ready to start. Our plan was to climb up via the Val Müstair, crossing the Jufplaun Plateau and find a nice spot for the first camp in the Val Mora. We were barely move and it happened.  I failed at the first small hillocks. My skis were faster and I rushed. Oh this could be an interesting trip I thought.I scrambled to me and continued. Slowly but successful I skied the next metres without a crash.

We followed the groomed trail through the Val Müstair. The trees were covered in snow and the sun was shining and the view was excellent. Meanwhile, I could get used to the ski and it was easier for me to handle them. The gradeabillity was perfect and I could climb up steep hills without problems. These Altai Hoks with integrated skins are perfect. You are significantly faster with them than on snowshoes, because you can slide forward.


Several times we stopped for photos. The sun was very hot und the snow deep

We followed the tracks of ski tourers up to Jufplaun. On the plateau we stopped at a mountain hut for late breakfast snack and a hot coffee.

The wind was blowing and formed this snow wall.
After our break we crossed the Jufplaun plateau and started the downhill into the Val Mora.

With baggy knees I started the downhill and I was happy that we were alone on the way into the Val Mora and nobody could see my bad ski skills. It looked like a drunken person wants to ski.  Meter for meter I climbed down into the valley. Anatol was a lot faster, because he can ski very well. After long long 20 minutes I did it and I was happy that I managed this downhill without bigger accidents. Ok several time I fell on my butt, but I had expected this.

Meanwhile it was two o’clock in the afternoon and we decided to stop for another break after this exhausting downhill and melted some snow with the Bushbuddy Ultra for a warm soup and a coffee. The sun was perfect on this afternoon and we enjoyed a longer break and photo session before we tried to find a campsite for the night.

 

After our break we skied round about two hours into the valley. Next to some trees we found a superb campsite with a nice view. It took a long time to pitch the tents, because the snow was very soft and deep and you could not make any step without skis. The evening ended with an extensive dinner, a good dram of whisky and some photos of the crystal clear night.

Brrrr. It was f*cking cold during the night. -27°C on the thermometer, but it was cozy and warm in my Katabatic Gear Sawatch quilt. I never want to miss this excellent quilt.

 

Our down garments kept us warm in the morning and after a warm coffee we decided to walk into the valley for some more photos.

No step without skis!!!

Timelapse stop.
Here is my result. It was the first time that I made a timelapse with my GoPro.

 

Because of the short breakfast we stopped in the midday sun at the Alp Buffalora, dried our gear and had a warm soup. It was unbelieveable. During the night we had -27°c and during the day we had warm 4°C. The sun was really aggressiv so that I got a really bad sunburn in my face.

 

Fresh and cold mountain streams next to the trail for a quick refreshment.

 

Crossing the Plateau of Jufplaun was not easy as expected. It was a torture. The snow stuck on the skins of our skis and moving foward was really slow because we had to stop every hundred meter to put the snow from the skis away.

Late in the afternoon we reached our camp. It was getting dark and we pitched our tents in the twilight. Preparing the ground for the tent was again hard work and after that we collected some wood for a fire. Under a big stone pine we foud a comfortable place for our dinner.

 

 

This night was not cold as the night before. Before we started our descent to Buffalora we ventilated our sleeping bags and other gear.

Rossignol BCX11. It was my first time that I used skis with 75mm binding and then in alpine terrain, but it was a cool experience. These boots still kept me warm in the evening when it was very cold and they were also very stable in the shaft. I hope I can write some more notes about the shoes in the future.

 

The normal way of the ski tourers was very icy, so we decided to took a way cross-country down to Buffalora. For Anatol it was no problem to ski down this steep slope, but for me it was hard work. After some accidents and enough snow between my clothing I decided to walk down this slope in a zicktack style. This was safer than skiing.

 

Last but not least a short video made by Anatol.

Val Mora – A Backcountry Ski Journey

Cottage News for 2014

Posted on 5 Februar 2014 | 1 response

New Year, New Gear. After the successful article in 2013 and the superb cooperation with Hendrik from Hiking in Finland, we both decided to do it again and present you all the new finest gear from the cottages for the year 2014.

 

 

Lite Trail

Lite Trail will soon have in stock an upgrade of the Ti Shepherd’s Hook Tent Stake. The stakes will be powder coated in nearly bombproof Hi-Vis Lime Green on the top portion. Soi you will never loose one of these bright green stakes.

Get more news on Facebook and Twitter!

Continue reading “Cottage News for 2014” »

2013 in fast forward and a preview for 2014

Posted on 6 Januar 2014 | 2 responses

The year 2013 started like most of the years before with warm and rainy period and a big flood on all our rivers. We go such much water that it was too dangers for packrafting trips. Only on few days we had a bit of snow, but it was not really much that I could have gone on a backcountry ski or snowshoe trip. So it was only time for some overnighter or day trips.

Instead of staying at home I visited the UL Community Winter Meeting in the Harz mountains. There was a bit of snow and some cold temps and it was a pleasure to meet all these people from our community again.

The snow conditions in the mid of Germany are really bad, because we are living in a really flat area. Either we are getting a big batch of snow for two or three weeks or we are getting not snow, but temps down to -20°C. Both options are bad and if I could choose I would take a mixture of both. While there was no snow until March I decided to visit the snow. Where can you do this better than in the Engadine. I made a very nice trip with Anatol in the Engadine mountains and this for the first time on skis.

Continue reading “2013 in fast forward and a preview for 2014” »

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