Broken Metal

Posted on 20 Februar 2013



In the end of the last year my wife gave me the OK to make a trip on New Year’s Eve, because she had to work on the other day and we could not go out on a big party. After some messages on Twitter I found a trip partner. Marius also did not want to celebrate the New Year on a big party and we planned a short trip of three days together. Our goal was to camp somewhere on a snowy mountain where we would have a good view on the fireworks, but without all this loud trouble and we did not want to drive too far. Meanwhile it was mid of December and the temps got warmer and warmer and the snow was melting and we cancelled our planned trip into the Harz. Day by day we checked the forecast, but the weather god was not friendly. In that time we recognized that Markus and Willi also planned a short winter trip before the New Year’s Eve in the Allgäu mountains. After some mails we decided to make this trip together, because there was a lot of snoe there in the mountains. Perfect for our trip. Around christmas the weather god annoyed us again. Warm temps and rain in the Allgäu mountains let the snow melt quickly. A trip under these bad conditions would be bad, so I had a last option we could choose. Travelling to Markus in Kempten, pick him up and going into the Swiss mountains in the Engadine.

Finally we determined this last option. On a rainy morning I picked up Marius and Willi from the train station on my way to Kempten. It was raining the whole way and we arrived late in the afternoon at Markus‘ apartment. I was to tired to drive the rest way to Switzerland, so we repacked everything and Markus made the last kilometres. It was still raining when we started and we all hoped to get some better conditions in Switzerland, because the forecast predicted a bit snow.

We lost our way several times, because my navigation device did not work. After a long journey we reached Mustair and the rainy weather changed into snow. We got more and more snow and driving was not easy. There where no snowplows, but finally we reached the parking at Buffalora. The snow got more and more and we stayed in to car and waited that is was less. After an hour of waiting the snow stopped. We jumped out of the car, saddled our packs and put on the snowhoes and switched the headlamps on. Not it way time to find a campsite for the night near Buffalora. After 20min walking through deep snow we reached the place where I camped with Anatol several times before. Preparing the campsite was difficult, because there were 30cm of fresh powder, but after a while everyone of us had a solid ground where he could pitch his tent. Meanwhile it was midnight when my bed was ready and I decided to have a small snack and go to bed instead of a delicious dinner.

During the night I woke up several times, because it did not stop snowing. Every hour I had to push off the snow from the walls of my Locus Gear Khufu, because the space in the shelter got smaller and smaller. In the morning I stayed a bit longer in my tent while all others were awake and had coffee and breakfast. It was still snowing, but we had a protected place under some trees where we could sit. Meanwhile it was 11 o’clock in the morning, it was still snowing, but we were ready to go. To 30cm fresh powder from the previous day we got the same amount during the night so we had to make a new track through 60cm fresh powder.

We only crossed the fields around Buffalora, but at the Alp Buffalora we stopped for a break, because it was so exhausting to walk through this deep snow powder. Planned was to reach the plateau of Jufplaun and find a protected campsite there.  In contrast to my last trip with Anatol we selected this time the normal way up to Jufplaun because it was tracked from some ski tourers which went along there in the morning. Suddenly the sun came out and it stopped to snow. Wow this could be a good day I thought. We stopped at and open water source to refill our water bottles and agreed to stop for a longer lunch break at a snowed mountain hut.

In front of this hut we spread out all our gear to try and made a delicious lunch on our gas stoves. Although the sun was shinning it was very cold and we had to wear our warm down jackets. The view around was perfect.

After our break we had to make a new track because the others ones led to the summits around us and there was no track to Jufplaun. Rested and strengthened we started. We crossed the field next to the hut to reach another groomed trail which we could see from the distance. It was lots of fun to walk through this deep and fresh powder, but suddenly I recognized that there was something wrong with my snowshoe. I tried to lift up my snowshoe out of the powder, but something was different. On closer look, I realized that the suspension of my binding was broken. My first thought was F*CK. How could this happen. I took off both snowshoes and told the other that I can’t walk with these broken snowshoes. We went back to the hut to have a closer look at the broken suspension. This 400m back were terrible. I constantly sunk into the snow so most of the time I had to crawl to come forward. Finally I reached a solid trail where we stopped.

Photo by Marius Heiland

We all stared at this broken snowshoes and deliberated on a solution to continue the tour, because walking back to the car without them would be horrible. I made the proposal to try this and walk back to Buffalora and the others could finish the trip, but nobody wanted this. It was a sad feeling. Such high quality snowshoes broke in some fresh powder. A cold wind came across and my finger were freezing. What a leak situation, but suddenly Willi fished something out of his repair kit. A normal key ring was the solution. We could fix the binding with the key ring at the framework, so that I could carefully continue the trip. Reaching Jufplaun was not possible for us because it was late in the afternoon and I did not want to risk another suspension or a key ring. So we changed our plans and tried to find a campsite below the plateau at the place where I camped with Anatol some weeks before. On the other day we planned to go back to the car and drive in the Allgäu.

Carefully I made step by step to test the snowshoes. The others ran advance and made a track for me so the snowshoes were exposed to excessive load. This small key ring saved the day and in the late afternoon we reached the campsite.

Before we pitched our tents, everyone had to prepare the ground. After that we started to collect dry wood for a big campfire in the evening next to the camp. The dusk started and we made a photo session in a fantastic light.

During our photo session Markus was so kind and started the fire.

We all sat around the fire and boiled water for a delicious dinner and a warm tea. I was so happy that I could walk with my repaired snowshoes and finish the day at this nice place. On this evening we made a plan to come back in summer for another and longer trip around these beautiful mountains.
The sky cleared and we ran up a small mountain next to the camp to make a photo of the scenery. Willi lit up the tents and poked the fire.

After this late photo session I spent again some time at the fire and melted some snow for the next morning and a last warm tea before I crawled into my warm sleeping bag. This day was exhausting and  I was so thankful that Willi carried this small key ring in his repair kit.


I woke up earlier than normal on this morning. It was too hot in my sleeping although we had -12°C during the night. Shortly after me the others came also out of their tents. The sun was rising and covered the mountains in a beautiful light.

Relaxing and warming up at the fire on this cold morning.

The Aspen Gold Locus Gear Khufu Sil Shelter looks perfect in the sun.

After an extensive breakfast we started to pack everything and we used this splendid morning sun to spread out all wet equipment.

A last group shot before we walked back to the car. We had to manage a two hours walk back to the car and I prayed that my snowshoes would not break again.

A last highlight on our way back was the Müstair valley. A small trail next to a stream led us through this beautiful valley. Several times we stopped to make photos and videos of the valley.

Marius was still behind us and made also lots of photos, but sometimes we could hear him crying „HELP“. What happened?? We hurried back. Marius made a step beside the path and slumped in the snow. It was hard work to get him out of this awkward situation, but it looked so funny how he has been lying there.

As if the fall had not been enough Marius shaked a snowy tree for a refreshment.

Finally we arrived the car in Buffalora and I was happy that I reached there without further problems on my snowshoes. The key ring was getting worn due to friction and would have held any longer time. Our way back to Kempten was a disaster. There was a big rockfall on one of the main highways so we had to take an alternative route which was overloaded. After several hours we reached Kempten and finished the day with a cold beer in the sauna.

2 responses to Broken Metal

  • […] article about some MYOG trail bars and now it is time for another recipe. On my last trip in the Engadine I carried some fruit bars from Seitenbacher. These bars were splendid, but very expensive when you […]

  • Great story and outstanding photos! Thank you, Benjamin!

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