Meeting a good friend in the Swiss Mountains

Posted on 14 Juli 2014

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.

 


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