Matt HB9FVF was only missing 5 points to reach Mountain Goat, so he wanted to do something special. He chose to do the first activation of Tödi (Piz Russein) HB/GL-001 3614 m. I had the opportunity to join him on this activation, so here is my account of how we ended up with a rig and an antenna on this high alpine summit.
Quick facts: Tödi is the highest mountain in the Glarus Alps and the highest summit in the canton of Glarus (HB/GL). Its prominence is 1570 m, and it thus qualifies as an "Ultra".
Day one – Monday, May 15, 2017
- Car park at Tierfehd 806 m
- E-MTB up the gravel road to Hintersand 1299 m
- Hike to alpine hut Fridolinshütte 2109 m, the upper half of the way in snow, and because Matt found the regular path too boring, we did some scrambling to spice things up
The hut was closed, but we were allowed to use the separate winter shelter, which was left open. We were alone that night, and the hut keeper had told us on the phone that nobody had ascended Tödi the weekend before due to unfavorable conditions.
We settled in, ate the “dinner” that we had brought, melted some snow on the wood stove so we would have water for the next day, and went to bed at 9 pm.
Day two – Tuesday, May 16, 2017
The alarm clock went off at 3:30 am, and we were ready and out of the hut at 4:00 am. This early start was deemed responsible as the danger of wet-snow avalanches due to daytime warming was forecasted to reach a “considerable” level according to the avalanche bulletin (in retrospect, it would have been better to start even earlier).
We walked down a slope onto the Biferten glacier, roped up, and set off in the dark with headlamps. Soon, two icefalls had to be negotiated; luckily there was a good trace, and as it had been a clear and starry night, the snow crust was excellent and we had no troubles with our snowshoes on the steep slopes between the icefalls, and made quick progress up the glacier.
At the break of dawn, above the icefalls on around 2800 m, we had breakfast. Then we continued towards the summit, still on excellent snow, and reached Tödi at 09:25 am. As expected, there was a sharp wind on the summit, so we hurriedly took a few pictures, signed the summit book, strung an EFHW between the summit cross and an avalanche probe, connected the KX1, and Matt was on air at 09:40 for about 15 minutes. I took over for another ten minutes on 40m and concluded with an S2S with @HB9BIN, while Matt worked our Austrian friends @OE9HRV and @OE9TKH on 2m from the HT. At 10:05, we went QRT. Apologies to chasers who didn't get a QSO; it was quite uncomfortable on the summit, and we wanted to start the descent as quickly as possible – so only 40m this time.
The initial descent was quick and unproblematic, as the snow crust was still quite hard above 3000 m. We even got to use the little plastic snow sleds that Matt had brought for a quicker and easier descent with some fun factor. After that, things went downhill – in more sense than one! Just above the icefalls, the snow had already become very soft and wet, and descending became strenuous. In the steep slopes between the icefalls, we had to be careful not to slip or slide down, and made good use of our ice axes. Below the icefalls, things were better, and we continued until the end of the glacier, roped down, and then it was basically just a long mixed snowshoe/boot hike down to Hintersand 1299 m, for a total descent of about 2300 m on foot that day. Luckily our bikes took us down the remaining 500 m back to the car.
Some photos are at the end of this post, and Matt has also made a video. As we had other things than filming or photographing in mind while in the steeper sections, those bits are unfortunately missing
I would like to thank Matt for the opportunity to join him on this slightly unusual activation!