Gärschthorn, Rimpfischsattel,


Slide 8 Next


Coming down from the Rimpfischsattel
Like it or not we were now descending. After an hour or so, snow has intensified and visibility dropped to just a few meters. Maurice had to stop to fasten up his crampons and I asked Maya to take this photo of me in the "blizzard". Unfortunately the effect is rather poor. Just me in a white background. Reality was much more dramatic. I do not remember experiencing such a bad weather on any of my Alpine excursions to date. In a way I liked it as it justified our turnaround. It was never intense enough though to cover our tracks or create any real danger.

We were making good progress. Going down was much faster than up even though by late afternoon snow was very wet and we were sinking in it knee deep, especially me as I was the heaviest.

By the time we got back to where we were on Slide #1 the weather stabilized. We packed the rope and the crampons and started heading down to the hut. We stopped there for just a few minutes to pick up our walking sticks. It has already been a 12 hours walk and the car was still 600 meters below.

A few meters from the hut we encountered a party of Polish climbers, two guys and a girl who was trailing a hundred meters behind. It turned out that they were members of a much larger party of Poles, maybe 10, perhaps even 15, all going up to the hut. They looked like university students and Maya was happy to practice her Polish "czesc". They were spread out so much that they could not have been coming up just from Ottowan 600 meters below. Maybe they were coming from Täsch?

It was interesting to watch them. I probably could not have guessed where they were from, was it not for the greeting, their familiar Polish "czesc". I reflected in passing that when I was briefly a junior faculty at a Polish university in 1984, my one months salary would not have been sufficient to pay for that one night in a SAC hut with its "Italian" dinner.

Just before we reached the car park Maurice and Maya went to a little dairy farmhouse to get some fresh milk and cheese. I was thirsty as hell but for half a day already I was dreaming about a big bottle of mineral water. Definitely with bubbles and better yet make it two big bottles... So I hurried down to the car where I took of my boots and walked in my sandals to a hotel restaurant. It is strange how a glass of cold sparkling water can, all of a sudden, become the very center of one's entire Universe...?