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Urner Haute Route aka Skiers Haute Route
Beginning of April I had the fortune to guide Urner Haute Route aka Skiers Haute Route. The ski tour starts in Realp/Andermatt and ends in the Engelberg valley after five days of ski touring spending four nights in comfortable mountain huts.
This ski tour is for sure one of my favourite ski tours in this part of central Switzerland and nice recurring tradition every spring in early April. The traverse is less crowded then many other ski tours in the alps even though it have become more popular since last year due SalomonTV beautiful film about the tour.
This year I had two solid groups. Working together with my local Engelberg guide collegue Jan Keller. Having two guides on a longer ski tour over several days has many advantages – service, safety, possibilities to split the group depending on daily form and route choice.
There’re several interesting variations on the classic route from Realp to Engelberg. The backcountry terrain in this area is huge and you need months to explore everything. Our route outline almost followed the most classic route with a slight different route outline day 2 and 3.
Outline Urner Haute Route aka Skiers Haute Route
Starting from Engelberg with private bus transfer at 09.00 o’clock to Realp 1560masl. Skinning to Albert Heim hütte at 2543m. The character of the first day is warm-up! 1000m of skinning in comfortable pace and slope angle, kickturn training and genaral tips. After four hours in warm sunny weather we arrived to the hut. The hut is an old classic cozy SAC hut. Romain is the hut warden and fantastic cook.
From Albert Heim hütte you can choose by either go South-West direction towards Trifthütte or more straight South by the classic route which takes you over Lochberg 3074masl and down to Göscheneralpsee. As the Chelenalphütte was closed we choosed to stay at the lovely Gasthaus Göscheneralp. This makes it to a shorter day 2 and a very long day 3. But its worth the extra effort as the Gasthaus serves you nice dinner and has comfortable beds and shower. Slightly better than very cold winter room at Chelenalphütte!
After an early start we arrived to summit of Lochberg around 09.30 o’clock. The skiing down from Lochberg was incredible. 20-30cm of cold fresh powder totally untracked for more than 1200 vertical meters. What a day!
We had breakfast just before 04.00 AM then started slowly skinning up towards Sustenlimi passing Bergseehütte for a short brake on the way. The visibility was bad and it was snowing for almost the whole morning. From Sustenlimi you can either continue to the highest summit of the tour Sustenhorn 3503masl or ski directly down the glacier to Steingletscher Hotel and after-ski beer 🙂 As the visibility was not optimal we skied down to the Hotel. The skiing was great, 1200 vertical meters untracked powder. This is for sure the most high alpine section on the tour regarding to the glacier terrain. Big glaciers with huge seracs and deep crevasses. The Steingletscher Hotel have full service, nice beds and showers.
From the Hotel its possible to go directly to Engelberg but its sad to miss the skiing on the splendid East face of Fünffingerstock wich takes you down to the Sustlihütte, my personal favourite hut in this region. Kari and Agi, the hut wardens, will serve the best Älplermagronen in the kanton of Uri!
Weatherly, we had our nicest day our last day of the tour. We skinned up to Grassen 2946masl before going down to Engelberg. Its a nice finish to end up on the classic summit of Grassen overlooking the Engelbergertal and the 2000m descent down to Engelberg is magnificent. A stop at the Wasserfall Restaurant for final lunch is a must!
Level Required on Urner Haute Route aka Skiers Haute Route
I get this question from time to time. It’s wise not to be a total beginner. Knowledge and experience of backcountry skiing and ski-touring is preferable. We do about 1000-1500 vertical meters climbing per day during five days. So you have to be fit and prepared for that! The terrain is sometimes difficult. The steep slopes requires good kick-turn technique and sometimes we have to climb with crampons and ice-axe with the skis on our backpacks. But of course, the guides will take good care of you and help you with the technique along the way if needed.
Summary Urner Haute Route aka Skiers Haute Route 2017
Fantastic week along with a mix of amazing people. Everyone did not know each other before. It was no problem rather the opposite. It was a very social and nice week and I hope there will be reunion next spring. The conditions we had couldn’t be better than what it was. It was like a dream. It was snowing during the nights and mornings, just about time for the descent the sky cleared up and the sun was coming. Totally unbelievable. Lets do it again!
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Winter season is over…
A fantastic winter season is over. I stored my skis a week ago although there is still great skiing to find up on higher altitudes. Granath Mountain Guiding need some rest. Since beginning of December I have been guiding more than 110 days on skis all over the alps and the North of Sweden.
Season Summary – December
The winter in the alps started slow with not very much snow, warm temperatures and thin snow cover. Many resorts in the alps didn’t have any snow at all! In Engelberg it was not that bad. We had cold snow down to 2400m and the ski-touring from Titlis offered beautiful spring conditions. Even though the conditions was not optimal I guided Titlis rundtour twice and Reissend Nollen twice during December – more timed than I guided this tours the year before!
In January the conditions went better and we had some powder skiing in. Locals in the valley still complained about the skiing conditions. I didn’t. I ended January with five days of skiing in St.Anton on Skiers Accredited “winter meeting”.
Beginning of February I went working two days in Davos. Ski-touring on beautiful Pischahorn in perfect weather and snow conditions. The week after that I had some productive photo-shoot days for Elevenate together with Olle Regner master photographer Mattias Fredriksson in Engelberg and Airolo. The month continued with private guiding around Engelberg. I visited both Bannalp and Brisen a couple of times for great ski-touring.
In March the ski-touring season started for real. And we finally got a LOT of snow on lower altitudes. I went to Chamonix twice. First time together with Skiers Accredited and the great high-mountain team Benny, Alex and Linus. We did some really successful tours including Brèche Puiseux and Col de Beugeant. Second time to Chamonix I went together with future alpinist and mountain-guide (?!) Pär for I tailor made winter climbing course. The Lafaille gully on Mont Blanc du Tacul was for sure the highlight of our four days together. In between the Chamonix visits a had four days of guiding in Verbier together with my friend and colleague Jimmy Oden. I ended March in Berner Oberland with some adventurous ski-mountaineering days together with Per and Andreas. During our tour in Berner Oberland we had it all, powder, whiteout, sun, and strong foehn winds…
I started April with a ski-touring week in my backyard. Urner Haute Route, the fantastic five day ski-tour between Andermatt and Engelberg aka the skiers Haute Houte. I continued with hut-to-hut ski touring throughout April. I had a successful week in Zermatt and Monterosa, together with Jörgen, Niklas and Johan we climbed and skied 8 4000m peaks! A week later I did another great classic – the Haute Route between Chamonix and Zermatt together with Per and Peter and friends from Calgary, Joel and Sarah. The week was extra-ordinary. Demanding conditions the first days and then… everything you want – beautiful weather and great snow conditions.
In the beginning of May I flew up to the North of Riksgränsen for ski-touring and Heli-skiing. Love the North and I hope to be back next spring again.
I ended up the season with one week of high altitude ski-mountaineering as it should be in the month of May. Three 4000m peaks, Mönch, Strahlhorn and Rimpfischhorn with best company, Jimmy Weman.
I want to thank all my clients for a fantastic ski season! Have a great summer!