Accidental summit on the Hinter Grauspitz

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Trip Report
Swiss Canton of Graubunden, Liechtenstein, Europe
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Aug 31, 2002
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Created On: Sep 6, 2002
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Note, this is essentially the same trip report as for my third attempt on the Grauspitz. All coordinates are Swiss Coordinates.
After two previous “defeats” by the Grauspitz (2,599 meters), I made one last determined effort to reach the summit on this trip. The weather forecast for 31 August was partly cloudy, but for 1 September it was rain. On August 31, 2002, I arrived at the base of the Alplibahn, a small cable car system in Malbun, Graubunden, Switzerland. I got there at 06:35 and was able to get up on the first car. I departed the top of the Alplibahn at 06:58.
I arrived at Ijes Dairy Farm at about 09:00. I took an unnamed ridge which I shall call Ridge 2304 (for an elevation marked near its top). Just after conducting a map check at 09:40, I got caught by some “quality” rain. I put on my Goretex jacket and pants and sat it out for about an hour. I think my cell phone got ruined here. After the rain subsided, I moved on up Ridge 2304. Upon reaching the top of the ridge (763591 2134140), I looked north and saw the Summit Cross and a “razor” sharp ridge between me and it. I was now on the Flasch Ridge, at 2,398 meters, and it was nothing to be taken lightly, especially as a lone climber. I saw a summit to the west without a cross on it (later determined to be the Grauspitz), but I could not get a meaningful elevation reading of it. After losing about 90 minutes trying not to give up altitude in order to negotiate this particularly dangerous portion of the ridge, I realized I was not going to be able to pull it off, again. Then I saw a pair of climbers at the Summit Cross, and watched their route selection. My morale soared. They descended toward the Ijesfurggli Saddle. Unfortunately, that was quite a distance with a lot of vertical changes in elevation to get there. I had been there on my first attempt, however, due to clouds, I could not see the objective, and the time ran out to make the last cable car back down the mountain. Defeated for my third time, now, I started to descend.
Then I saw a “possibility” via one ridge to the north. I moved north trying to side hill without giving up too much elevation, and I saw what looked like a reasonable route for a lone climber. I made some progress and stopped for another map check at 14:30. I was at 2,437 meters. It started to drizzle and the clouds were reducing visibility to about 100 meters. It was NOT a good situation, but my GPS was ready for the task, and I had plenty of spare batteries on had, as well as my quality compass and 1:25,000 scale topographic map. Was 162 meters short of the summit in terms of elevation, but I was determined to push on considering I did not feel I was in too precarious of a position, considering my visibility and GPS. I knew, however, that if visibility dropped to 25 meters or less I was going to be in for a tough and rough descent, with the GPS locked in under my nose.
At 14:55 I was startled by a figure looking generally toward me and realized it was just a statute, just before speaking to it. Then I saw the cross just beyond it, though it faded in and out with the clouds. I went up to the Cross and examined the GPS, which indicated the Grauspitz was still 490 meters away! I was surprised at the 500 meter error on the GPS, and the elevation indicated I was at 2,569 meters elevation. I opened the summit log book holder and read "Hinter Grauspitz!" Darn! I was at the Hinter (back) Grauspitz, at 2,574 meters, not the Grauspitz (2,599 meters). I signed the summit log, took some photos in the fog, and got the heck out of “Dodge,” never able to the see the Grauspitz from this position due to clouds.
I descended the scree fields and made it back to the Ijes Dairy Farm by 17:05. There was no way I was going to make it back to the Alplibahn Cable Car by 18:00. I walked on, sore and fatigued, however, I made it to the Alplibahn by 19:35. In the bathroom, I found and borrowed some blankets and I used cardboard boxes for padding. I bedded down on a table for the night, well protected from the rain, and pretty cozy, if I may say so. After putting away the nicely folded blankets, I grabbed the first cable car down the mountain in the morning. I did not want to do a lot of walking in the rain which was forecasted for 1 September, that is why I chose to bed down there instead of seeking out an Alpine Club Hut.
In summary, I made it to the Hinter Grauspitz alone, but by mistake.


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