Liechtenstein:Grauspitz (2599 m)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grauspitz is actually a double peak, Hintergrauspitz
(2574m) and the Vorderesgrauspitz (2599m). They lie
on a 2.5-km long ridge that extends from the Naafkopf
(2570m) up to the Falknis (2564m).
These mountains drop steeply to the Rhine Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grauspitze
(left) and the Schwartzhorn are the highest and
second highest summits in the tiny principality of Liechtenstein.

 

 

 

 

Een alpiene wandelberg met enkele stukjes klauterwerk. Beklimbaar
vanuit zowel Zwitserland (Malans) als Liechtenstein

 

 

 

 

This is listed as
the highest mountain in Liechtenstein.  In Swiss Grid Coordinates, it’s
location is vicinity 762865 213509, at the north end of the Swiss Canton
(state) of Graubunden. The mountain is on the south
end of Liechtenstein.
This mountain is quite difficult to locate without a map of 1:50,000 scale or
more detailed versions. Falknis (Falcon’s Nest), a neighboring summit, is approximately 1,700 meters to the
west of Grauspitz. It has an elevation of 2,562 meters, and has
a well marked trail direct to it. It also shows up on a number of general
tourist maps.

 

 

Getting to the Grauspitz is another story, as there are NO Swiss Alpine
Club trails leading to it. All approaches from the Swiss side occassionally involve employing three points of contact and
some degree of skill negotiating a very steep ridgeline. A local (72 year old
male working at the Alplibahn) from Switzerland
recommended approaching from Ijes (a tiny dairy farm)
but commented that virtually no one goes to the Grauspitz
due to the difficulty of the ridge line leading out to it from Falknis. I am not good with grading scales as there are so
many and are often very subjective, however, there were places where all four
points of contact were in use and roping up would have been a pain, but
reassuring. In addition, one must be careful with scree,
talus, mud, and loose holds. There is an exposure factor for persons with
hesitation reference heights.

 

 

As a point of
safety note, there is mortar ordnance laying about in the approach from Ijes Dairy Farm. Do not touch anything looking like mortar
shells! I am not certain if it was a practice range in the past, or if mortars
are used to dislodge avalanches.

 

 

Considering the
relatively low altitude, this is quite an effort for a one day peak bagging
opportunity. All captions in yellow are taken from the Swiss (south) trip. All
captions in green are taken from the Liechtenstein (north) trip.

 

 

 

 

This shows the north side of the Grauspitz wall. This is clearly a major challenge for a
solo hiker or climber!

 

 

 

 

The unnamed ridge shown here, in
Lichtenstein, appears to be the best route to the Grauspitz
from the north. It still looks like a lot of potential for slipping and falling
in scree and talus, not to mention cliffs.

 

 

 

 

This is the best picture I could get
of the Grauspitz. It is full magnification from 3 kilometers
away. This is the north side, or Lichtenstein side. It looks very dangerous for
a solo hiker or climber!

 

 

 

 

This shows some technical
information reference the Ijes Dairy Farm. This is
where I had to make my own trail. I ascended the east side of the unnamed
ridge. In retrospect, I believe it would be better to ascend the east side of Flascher Ridge

 

 

 

 

This is probably as good of a close
up photo as I can get of the Grauspitz.

 

 

NOTE:

West Face Route

 

should read EAST face
route. Sorry for the error. The camera is facing west.

 

 

 

 

Perhaps the least difficult
trail head starts by taking a cable car called the Alplibahn
from the Swiss town of Malans. There is free parking
there. Take the cable car ($15 Swiss Francs per adult, round trip) to the top,
where you will be at a restaurant at 1,801 meters. From
there start hiking marked trails to Falknis (Falcon’s
Nest), or the Ijes (a tiny dairy farm). These trails
change from paved one way roads, to gravel one way roads, to cow feces “mined” mud vehicle trails. The trails are
marked with yellow signs that give names and walking times on them. A local
recommended trying to summit from Ijes Dairy Farm,
though the initial map reconnaissance showed Falknis
may be easier.

 

 

Once you get to Falknis or Ijes Dairy Farm, the
real challenge begins. The trails end at those locations.

In my opinion, the best topographic maps for the area are (1)Flumserberge Prattigau,
1:50,000, #5012, August 1995 and (2) Schesalpana
1:25,000, #1156, August 1999. Both maps have Swiss Coordinate boxes, and are manufactored by Bundesamt fur Landstopographie, 3084 Wabern, Switzerland.

 

 

The best way to get there
from the Liechtenstein side is via the village of Steg. Travel
south on a paved road on the WEST side of the Valunerbach River, for approximately 600 meters.
There
you must park your car and begin walking. The Valuna
Dairy Farm is about a 25 minute walk south. Approximately one kilometer later, you must decide on your route. Note, there is NO trail to the Grauspitz
shown from the Liechtenstein
side either! The maps mentioned above remain the best for use in Liechtenstein.
Maybe it was just luck, but I encountered far less livestock feces on the roads and trails in Liechtenstein
than in Switzerland.

 

 

From the Liechtenstein
side one must obtain a permit to drive to the trail head. I have no idea how to
obtain that permit. Hence you can park just south of Steg
(east and uphill from Triesen and Triesenberg)
and walk an extra 4 kilometers to the trail head. This
is some sort of a nature zone in Liechtenstein.

 

 

In the summer, a
major challenge stems from the dew covered grass combined with the steep slopes
protected by muddy and slippery lose shale-like rock. It is a lot tougher than
any picture can convey.

 

 

 

 

“We figured since Liechtenstein
was so small and the peak low, it would be straightforward – wrong. Going to a
tourist information office, nobody had any idea as to the route. Usually
country highpoints have trails or extensive detailed climbing information but
not here. Through the language barrier, we finally thought we had it figured
out after looking at some poor detail maps. There was the Pfalzer
hut on the ridge about one mile west of the summit and everyone seemed to think
we could go along the ridge to reach the summit on the second day. The four
mile trail hike up to the hut was spectacular even in this area of lower
elevation Alps peaks. Beautiful scenery and a
light snow was falling as we reached the hut by late
afternoon. As with all the European huts, there was great camaraderie among
climbers of different countries, hot food and comfortable bunk beds. Nobody
knowledgeable about the route to the Grauspitz could
speak English but several seemed to indicate that going up the ridge was the
right way. We did learn that we would be going over Noafkopf Peak. Our third day started fine and
climbing through a couple of inches of fresh snow, in less than an hour we were
to the top Noafkopf with Grauspitz
clearly visible across a .5
mile very broken ridgeline. No way
were
we equipped for it so nothing to do but retreat.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Route:            Älplibahn (Bergstation) – Vorderalp
P.2030m (Kamm) – Unterst
See – Ijes – P.2148m – P.2304m – Schafälpli
– P.2502m – NO-GratGipfel
– P.2502m – SWW-GratGipfel
– SSO-Grat – P.2304m – P.2148m – Ijes
Unterst See – P.2030m (Kamm)
VorderalpÄlplibahn Bergstation

 

 

Kommentar: Sehr schöne Tour auf den höchsten Gipfel Liechtensteins.
Die Querung über das Schafälpli ist mühsam im Geröll,
besser über den Hinter Grauspitz abklettern.

 

 

Die Tour führte über folgende 4
Gipfel: Vorder Grauspitz, Ruchberg, Hinter Grauspitz,
Schwarzhorn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bergstation Aelplibahn 1801 m -> Kamm 2100 m – Alp Ijes 1942
m -> (Grauspitz 2599 m fakultativ) – Barthümeljoch 2305 m -> Gross Furgga 2359
m -> Chlei Furgga 2243
m -> Schesaplanahütte 1908 m

 

 

Marschzeit (ohne Grauspitz): 5 Stunden. Mit Gipfel zusätzlich 2 1/2
Stunden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am 7. September Abfahrt
von Marksuhl um 2.00 Uhr um noch rechtzeitig unsere reservierten Plätze in dem
allerliebsten Älpli-Bähnli zu erreichen. Um 7.45 Uhr
dann quetschen wir uns mit zwei weiteren Furchtlosen in die ca. 1qm große
Gondel um unseren Magen mit 1000 Hm wildem Geschaukel zu prüfen.

Oben gehen wir dann den schönen Weg über die Almen von Kamm, Bad und Fläsch bis ins Fläscher Tal. Hier
ist die Grauspitze zum ersten mal zu sehen und wir
können uns einen Weg zum Gipfel heraussuchen.

Da wir gerade davorstehen, versuchen wir es mit dem Südostgrat. Über Gras und
Blöcke geht es bis zu einem jetzt trockenem
Wasserfall, der eine rund 30 m
hohe Steilstufe runterfällt. Was so einfach aussieht,
erweist sich auf Grund der steilen, total brüchigen und grifflosen
Schieferplatten als ganz schön knifflig. Nach ziemlich langer Zeit haben wir es
aber geschafft und dürfen uns nun zur Belohnung 250 Hm einen sehr steilen
instabilen Schotterhang hocharbeiten. Einige Steinböcke schauen uns amüsiert
dabei zu. Das letzte Stück geht es jetzt noch gegen den Sturm den Grat hoch und
so sind wir gegen 11.00 Uhr auf dem Gipfel.

Als Abstieg versuchen wir den direkten Weg zur Alpe Ijes,
welcher sich als lustiges Gerutsche, Gehüpfe und Gestürze bis um 13.00
Uhr bewältigen lässt. Da der Tag noch jung und das Wetter jetzt auch sonnig
ist, beschließen wir noch zur Schesaplana-Hütte zu laufen und erst am Sonntag
zurück nach Hause zu fahren.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I climbed the highest peak in tiny Liechtenstein,
the Grauspitze. It was a thoroughly undistinguished
low alpine peak, rising to only 2599 meters (8527 feet), but it was
still a very interesting hike. It was nowhere near as crowded as the other
climbs I did in the Alps, since no one cared
about it, there was no trail, and no consensus as to
the best route. It was really just a random summit that, by virtue of the
boundaries of Liechtenstein,
came out highest in the county’s 61 square miles. There was no snow or ice at
all on it or its slopes.

 

 

From Chur I drove
north to Malans, Switzerland and rode the Alpibahn gondola to its 5909-foot top, saving me 4000
vertical feet of uphill that would have precluded any kind of dayhike to the Grauspitze. I
talked to an older Swiss couple in my gondola car, surprised at how well my
German worked–I was able to communicate where I was from, what peak I was
going for, and even why–I explained my hobby of climbing the “hauptberg” (highest point) in each country. I saw this
couple all day long–we kept passing each other.

 

 

From the top of the Alpibahn
I hiked along dirt roads through grassy fields full of cows, uphill to the high
Kamm pass, and then down a semi-paved road that wound
around a lot through more pastures and forests. It was cloudy and foggy at
first, but definitely clearing as the morning wore on. I don’t think anyone
lived in this high country of alps, but it was well
served by a network of roads in various states of repair– none I wanted to
take my car on–and there were a bunch of barns and stables for the cows
grazing all over. The mountains all rose as rocky pyramids from the fields.

 

 

After taking my road through a dark tunnel
through a ridge, I finally came down to Ijes Alp at
10 AM, where I thought I’d strike off cross-country towards the Grauspitze. There was a farmhand hosing down the stables at
this 6200-foot high meadow, and I asked him in bad German if it was OK to walk
up through the fields towards the Grauspitze, and he
said fine. So I struck off up the valley above the stables, heading towards a
headwall, with the upper reaches obscured by clouds.

 

 

After some steep, sweaty uphill over grass and
then rocks, I reached the crest of the southeast ridge of the Schwarzhorn. Below me was the little hanging valley called
the Schafalpi, with cliffs guarding its southern access. From where I was I could either drop down into this
valley, cross it over to the Schwarzhorn-Grauspitze col, and
then go up the Grauspitze, or else stay on the ridge
all the way, traversing the Schwarzhorn. I decided on
the second course, since I always prefer ridges and climbing extra summits.

 

 

The ridge northwest to the Schwarzhorn
was pretty easy–when it got too jagged dropping off to the northeast always
provided easier terrain. I saw a guy on the Shwarzhorn-Grauspitze
ridge, and thought I’d meet him on the summit, but he must have traversed below
it, because once I was atop the Schwarzhorn he had
disappeared. I took a nice rest on the Schwarzhorn–the
clouds were pretty much gone by now, and it was turning into a really nice day.

 

 

The ridge from the Schwarzhorn
down to the Schwarzhorn-Grauspitze col was bad news, though. It was very, very steep and
jagged, and the rock was very rotten and crumbly–this was perhaps the most
difficult solo rock-climbing I had ever done in my life up to this point, and I
was a bit scared. At the col things improved greatly,
and the ridgeline up to the summit of the Grauspitze
offered better rock and far fewer problems. I arrived at the highest point in Liechtenstein (8527 feet) at noon, truly
thrilled with the success of my lonely adventure–without a trail or guidebook, I had reconnoitered and
executed a difficult ascent.

 

 

After taking lots of pictures of myself (to
prove I had been here), eating lunch, and a half-hour rest, I descended back to
the Schwarzhorn-Grauspitze col,
then returned back to the southeast ridge of the Schwarzhorn
via the Schafalpi hanging valley, a much easier way
than my earlier hairy ridge traverse. The rest of my descent was uneventful–it
turned into a very hot, sunny day, I didn’t go quite as low on my long, high
traverse back to the Kamm col
by taking a faint path that slabbed higher, and I
even ran up the low grassy peak of the Kamm ridge (6965 feet) at 3:30 PM
because I had plenty of time before the last Alpibahn
gondola down. I saw several other hikers in this country, including the Swiss
couple from this morning, but, except for the one guy I never met, no one above
Ijes Alp.

 

 

 

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