Grauspitz | Liechtenstein

Sep 12th 2017 I started my mountain tour around Europe. I had a few weeks before the winter to climb as many mountains on my list as possible. And Grauspitz was the first on my list! It was an exciting climb since it would be the first serious mountain I would do by myself. A great way to test my skills and see if I could do it.

I arrived to the small village Malans the day before the climb after driving from Milan. A cute little mountain village.

With me on this tour is my new assistant Jacob (I work as a photographer so I´ve had an assistant for many years and for the next few weeks my assistant will change working in the studio to being on a mountain tour). My schedule for the upcoming weeks are pretty crazy so I really need help with driving to be able to get everywhere. So in the evening we drove to find out where the start of the trail was. But after drivning up the mountain for a while we came to an end so we had to turn back.

So instead of driving up to the trail we took the Älpibahn up. You need to book it in advance. We had not done that but since it´s the end of the season we just went there and were lucky to go up 15 min later.

It´s so beautiful when you look around. We were going up on the Swiss side.

Views from the lift.

When we got up I talked a little to the man who worked at the lift. He didn´t speak much english but when I said I was going to the summit of Grauspitz he told me it was not possible and that I should summit Falkins instead. I told him it was not an option and that I was going to try anyway. He also told med two guys been up there yesterday and there was about 40 cm new snow. I had my crampons, ice ax and gaiters in the car down by the parking lot and regret that I didn´t  brought them with me. A mistake I will learn from. But I had my new shoes from Hanwag with great grip and my poles with me so I thought I would give it a try anyway. The guys yesterday didn´t have crampons or ice ax with them either. And if they could do it, maybe so could I?

So after taking a look at the route I started walking.

Jacob was with me for a while. I sent him down when the hard part started. But it was nice with some company along the way.

This is Jacob!

We walked along a beautiful path. Sometimes we met a few cows but apart from that we didn´t see any people.

Then there was this really muddy place. I thought I was doing ok and then in the end of it my step just disappeared into the mud. And the next step too. Damn! Mud almost up to my knees after just walking for an hour. I tried to get it away by walking around in high grass. It got better at least. Stupid! I should have found another way around that mud. Another thing I´ve learned for the next time.

It was a really nice day. I could walk just in my Icebreaker sweater and Fjällräven hiking tights. I get all my gear and clothes at Naturkompaniet in Sweden.

Sometimes I had to stop to figure out the route. I´m not very experienced with finding routes so this was one of the hardest parts in climbing a mountain by myself. But I learned a lot by having to just solve it. I had done some research before so I knew a few landmarks and directions.

Then I arrived at the tunnel and that made me come to the other side of the mountain. Here the trail ended and I sent Jacob back to the village again.

Last part before I was all alone. There where a few farms we passed by so we actually saw another human being along the way. But there was no one else trying to summit Grauspitz this day.

I remember thinking “this doesn´t look so bad” when I saw where I was suppose to go up. And the first part wasn´t. Just a pretty steep hill with some sheeps on. But as I approached the snow it was turning from grass to rocks and the worst kind of rocks. Slippery and broken. Almost impossible to walk on. And it got more and more steep. The last part I had to try to just find a route that was possible to walk on. I traversed a bit but with a thin layer of snow over the rocks it was a nightmare. At one point i just sat on my ass in the mud and slided down a bit even if I got so dirty cause it was so hard. Really the worst kind of rock. And I know it doesn´t show in the picture but belive me… I got scared and was thinking “how am I suppose to come down from this?”

Then when I finally on shaky legs got up on the ridge I saw the summit. It was waaaaay over there. And when I saw this I knew it would be impossible. Too far away (I was already late cause the last section was so hard) and so much snow. So steep. Could I even get there? I was thinking about turning around but then I told myself if I had come this far I could just walk a little bit more as long as it felt ok and see. So I started doing that and before I knew it I had done the traverse over the snow (easy) and was at the bottom of the summit. Now it was just the steep part left!

I´ve seen pictures of people climbing the ridge but when I got there I also saw the tracks of the two guys who had climbed it the day before me and they just walked up the slope in the snow. So I started doing the same thing and I was actually grateful for the snow cause I could just put my feet in it and it turned into stairs for me. A little steep sometimes but it was not too bad.

And then I was on the top. Of the first summit. The tracks from the other guys stopped there. They never went to the real summit. I can understand why. First you had to climb down the really narrow ridge for 15 m and then up another 30 m before you were on the real summit (seen inte the picture to the left). But I did it! So the selfie is from the top of the real summit.

The view from the summit and my tracks from walking on the ridge.

Between the first summit and the real one. You climb down and then up again on this narrow ridge.

Exposure is real! This is from where I stand on the ridge. It just drops vertical a few hundred meters. You don´t want to fall down there.

After a few photos on the summit I started descending. First I walked over the ridge and climbed up to the first summit again and from there I pretty much slide down the slope on my ass in the snow. I decided to try another way down so I just continued down on the front side of the mounatin. I didn´t want to take the same route with that slippery rock. But this was no better. I just ended up after a while at a place where you had to scramble over rocks and with the same problem, slippery grass and rocks with a thin layer of snow over so every step you take your foot just loose the grip. I should have had my crampons.

I started climbing down in a waterfall just to get some better rock to stand on. But ended up on a small and slippery ridge with a 10 m vertical drop and all I had to hold on to was a little bit of grass. I understood this was really bad and carefully traversed over to the other side and found another route down. This was also hell but at least, taking it really careful and slow I didn´t have to climb where it was that dangerous.

When I finally got down that part I was so happy. Now there was just like a 2 h hike back on a trail to the Älpibahn. I had already missed my booked lift and at 17:00 the man from the lift called me asking where I was. Maybe 30 min away but I told him 15 and ran the last part. He was so kind and waited for me and on the way down I told him about my adventure. He had been so worried for me. I was sometimes worried about myself to. But not too much. This was a great experience where I learned a lot and even if it sometimes was scary I was always very careful and when I ended up in situations that could have been dangerous I made sure to get myself out of them before they actually were dangerous for real.

I would not recommend this mountain to anyone who doesn´t have experience. And maybe you shouldn´t do it alone.

When I got back down to the car we started driving to Zugspitze. The next mountain on my list. But getting there the weather had become worse and there was a storm coming over the alps with a lot of snow. So the next day we needed to change my whole plan. I was suppose to do Grossglockner a few days later too but the guide cancelled that because of the weather. So instead of staying in the alps we did a crazy drive from Zugspitze to Monaco to check off another peak from the list.

Mountain 7/49