Preparing Nepal: The Equipment

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The Devil is in the Detail

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Imagine a range of temperatures between -10 and + 20 °C. An expedition sleeping bag that keeps you cosy even when the inner temperature in the lodge drops to -15 °C. Heavy hiking shoes. Insulated bottles for 2-3 litres of water and tea. Clothing for 3 weeks, rain protection included. A camera beyond the lenses of regular smart phones. Add “bring-your-own-bathroom” (toilet paper, towel, flip flops, hygienic wet wipes, …) and masses of plasters. And then set the limit to 15 kg max.

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This is my first trekking trip; thus, I am free of any prior experience or knowledge. My approach is based on working routines: I set up a list in excel and fill it with all details and their weight. Then I calculate each item in or out until I reach the given maximum. Astounding enough for a girl with “nothing to wear!” in her closet: the main challenge was a minimizing one, eliminating 20% of the planned items right from the start.

 

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Lucky me that I head neither clue nor equipment when I signed in for the trip in summer 2017. You may have remarked the significant increase in the outdoor markets throughout the last months, evident in the pictures around. Most of the clothing is 100% Merino wool – it is comfortable to wear and refreshes itself overnight even after a soaking-sweating-hiking day.

 

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I count down the days until departure and take care of the last steps until I enter the plane. I give over my apartment keys to the friend that will move in, check the required amount of cash for visa and other fees, fully charge camera and iPod and climb up to the Rotwandhaus for the last time (and for lamb chops and for coffee and for the exercise of it).

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Then I will compare my luggage with a more experienced friend and wonder what I might have forgotten (mini skirt? Bikini? Nail polish??)…

 

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Preparing Nepal: Expectations and Conditions

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Once upon a time, a wise friend put it down to the core: It is all about expectations. Thus, I wonder what my expectations might be when it comes to the Nepal trek.

Mountain peaks or tenacious fog? Easy travelling or anoxia? Stunning views or annoying group travelers?

For the time being, I try to set up my weekly exercise in more realistic conditions. I get up early after only 5 hours of sleep and start today’s hiking tour shortly after breakfast around 11:30 am. This being set, the rest is routine: glistening snow, cloudless blue skies and a wide view way south over the main Alps. After a light lunch (Kaaspressknödl surrounded by fresh salad), I leave the Rotwandhaus and roll down the slushy path.

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With temperatures reaching 15°C more than last week, the snow turns more and more into a mash of half-frozen water. I assume this caused the fatigue and muscle soreness that creeps over me later that day. Otherwise it would mean that I am not in perfect shape and THAT is not among the acceptable options…

 

Preparing Nepal: Not So Bad

2017 has been driven by the chase for peaks. I never considered hiking being more than a relaxed walk among cows and rocks, but last year I learned that it is all about finding the good routes with interesting paths, climbing elements and gorgeous views.

Winter season 2017/2018 is laughing loudly at the climate warming, so I forgot about peaks and focus on continuous movement (uphill preferred). Given this, it is no surprise that today is one more episode of “been there, done that”. However, I let the pictures speak up for themselves…

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Rotwandhaus – Getting Closer (1:45h / 640hm)

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This is why: Rotwand is always an Option

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Excercising means Hard Work

Preparing Nepal: Time over Quality

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10 Days ago at the Kreuzjoch / Garmisch

Time flies and my fitness shape has has sort of left me behind: one of us is already over the peak and I am afraid it isn’t me. Such a pity that I cannot spend all of my time for sports and holidays, but even with foggy weather and tiny time frames I can rely on a proverb that is well-known among Munich hikers: Rotwand is always an option.

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Typical Surrounding at the Spitzingsee

Relying on my hiking experience of 2017 I am able to get by without further pathfinders – at least when keeping to well-known regions such as Spitzingsee or Garmisch. With a 6-days-week behind (and another one ahead), I aim for tranquility and good food, reaching both before the end of the day. The tranquility part is easy enough when wandering on cloud level: with a view that is limited to about 10 meters, I feel alone and relaxed due to the fact that I hardly see any other hiker.

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The total of 650 altitude meters is far from a severe exercise, but at least my feet remain used to vertical directions.

Today’s winter season impedes the awareness of increasing sea levels. Each time I spend some time in the mountains, it is plain white around me.

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Looking for Sunset

I make the best of the given conditions, going for showshoe-walks whenever possible and changing 30 boring TV channels to a flashing view that outperforms all blockbusters of your local cinema. Although I might use spare time for other hobbies after the Nepal holidays, there still is a fair chance that I might return to regular hiking tours throughout the summer. Views to catch, mountains to climb…

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I heard the Himalaya looks a bit like the Alps – I think that’s not so bad…

Preparing Nepal: Another Winter Exercise

Does it Look Stormy?

Weather conditions are tricky today, but Barbara, secretly known as Supergirl, brings best spirit with her and thus we go for another snowshoe-tour. The latent danger of avalanches as well as limited sight lead us to the well-known trekking path around the Rosskopf / Spitzingsee.

The path in the forest presents our surrounding as a perfect winter-wonderland. Further up with open landscape it becomes much more difficult and that is not only due to the body-check with an ignorant snowboarder. The masses of fresh snow combined with the strong wind are certainly challenging, but we beat it with will, force and laughter.

Before we turn around and face the whiteout, we stop for a short rest behind a rural barn. Lucky us that we regained our sinews with hot tea and boarisch Brezn! The path downwards is hardly visible with the wind blowing masses of snow even over fresh traces. We loose the original path several times and fight our way back on solid ground, sinking in the snow up to our hips. It definitely was a good decision to go for a well-known route today.

Once back at the parking, our cheeks glow red of snow, wind and joy. It has not quite been a piece of cake, but some nice workout and a whole lot of fun.

 

 

Preparing Nepal: Winterly Hochries

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When it comes to altitude difference, forget about sea level and focus on today’s cloud level. Sure enough, four blondes know how to compete winterly weather and thus we enjoy a neat little tour up to the Hochries / Chiemgau.

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The start is all mud and meadows, but after an hour we continue our way through old snow beneath young feet. The tour itself is easy, challenged only by the slippery snow that requires a certain concentration with every step you take. From time to time we come to a halt and take a look around. It might not be spectacular, but is so much better than the foggy city of Munich in these first days of January.

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Once on top, we take over the best table of the Hochrieshütte and settle down for food and coffee – an outlook that regularly becomes visible on my typical summit face.

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Coffee! Food!

Before we start our descent, we use the excursion to change the way how to look on life and peaks. Being flexible, that is what we aim for.

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Downwards, the snow prevents any rush. 800 m height difference are not more than a relaxed walk in the woods, but nonetheless our route led us to the first peak of the year.

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Preparing Nepal: Rosskopf by Snowshoe

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Peak with a View

Been there, done that – and yet another peak: Hector is keen on snowshoeing and thus we head off to Spitzingsee.

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The Rosskopf hidden behind the Church is as high as its Tower

After a colourful sunrise we start relaxed at 8:00 am and even though we are not alone on the streets, there is (astounding enough) no rush towards the Alps. When confronted with 550 m height difference, Hector spontaneously decides to stay at the Spitzingsee parking while I rent some snowshoes and start moving uphill.

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The path winds up through the forest and I try to enjoy the constant effort. Actually, most the time it is above all: effort. But even when wondering why I am doing all of this mountain exercise stuff, I still see the beauty that surrounds me and appreciate that I live just an hour away from the Alps.

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Most Attractive Sports Facilities around Munich

Approximately ½ of the altitude difference is spread over romantic paths in the forest. Now I look at the other half and I wonder: Shall I take the black ski slope, straight uphill? Or should I choose the natural mogul piste straight up?

With confidence in my snowshoes and based on the sheer ignorance of any appearing difficulty I manage to climb up the mogul field up to the peak of the Rosskopf. Sure enough I find the lazy skiers that use the ski lift hilariously unathletic. I pass them by in silence as I make my way to the cross.

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15th Peak 2017!

The view exceeds today’s expectations and that is not only due to sporty tour skiers changing their clothes. Two weather fronts struggle one against the other, leading to white-gleaming peaks beneath a fretful sky.

For the way down, I choose the black ski piste and my buttocks as extra breaks. 1,5 hours later I am back down at the Spitzingsee and enjoy the view on the frozen lake with the only required movement being the arm with the hot wine punch getting eventually up and down.

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Preparation: Is It Hot in Here?

As time moves on, great expectations build up sort of a pile. A pile of best expedition material. In this case: a sleeping bag that promises to keep my basic body functions up until -43° degrees Celsius.

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Dreaming of a White Christmas?

More important is: 90% of down are supposed to keep me warm and cosy even with temperatures falling below -13° Celsius, which is considerably cold for the inside of a Himalaya lodge. Still, it is months away, but with my equipment being ready, I allow myself to start dreaming of snow-white mountain peaks, of great nature and a wonderful experience.

Hard to imagine that I will really need such professional stuff, but good to know that I am definitely prepared – for whatever may come along.

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Dreaming of Himalaya Peaks

Preparation (12): Schinder – A Tough Tour

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The first November days show up with the last reminiscence of the splendid summer. Consequently, another hiking trio is up for the Bavarian foothills of the Alps.

Using the toll road towards Valepp, we start deep within the hilly forests between Tegernsee and Spitzingsee. As usual, our path has a clear direction (straight up!) and I wonder whose idea this has been…

 

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Uphill

After 1,5 hours we reach open meadows at the Trausnitzalm. With neither cows nor catering we only sit down for a short break before we continue our way up to the first peak of the Schinder.

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The path gets steeper and rougher while the horizon gets wider. The multifaceted tour with brooks to cross, trees to pass and small paths may be arduous, but never boring. In higher locations hiking sticks are welcome, apart from occasional rocks that are passed best with hands and feet for the way aloft.

Once on top of the 1808 m peak of the Austrian Schinder, we look out to the Großglockner, the Großvenediger and all the other peaks of the Alps.

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Room with a View

Tendency goes to two-peak-tours and thus we leave the first summit and hand ourselves down the furrow to the ridge between Austrian and Bavarian Schinder. The steel rope is more than welcome – and yet this still is the warm-up for the most interesting parts of the hike.

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The second summit offers a brand new cross and narrow rocks that we share with a handful of hikers. The sun breaks through thin clouds and the view presents the Alps with glistening snow on the distant peaks.

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What a joy knowing that from here on all we have to do is a bit of downhill wandering. At least this is true for the last half hour of the tour, but before that we have to face the way down the corrie. And, being part of it, the legendary Schindertor. Thanks to the steel ropes climbing is comfortable and exciting all the same:

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Through the Schindertor

Tons of scree carry us down reams of altitude meters, surrounded by a bizarre moon landscape in all shades of grey.

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Schinderkar

Looking back to the recently overstepped mountain tops is very satisfying. Little by little the path gets less rough and the landscape more mellifluous. 6,5 hours after our departure we arrive at the car, all proud of the 1.000 m height difference and the most interesting tour of the year.

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