Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Snow cave in Binntal

I've slept in a snow cave for the first time ever and can only recommend the experience.


We started the trip in Binn and went towards Mässeralp. At Manibode, we took out a probe to measure the snow depth. It was between 1.5 and 2 metres, just about enough for a snow cave. We left our stuff there and started skinning up towards Grosses Schinhorn. Almost immediately, I felt out of power and Vašek and Kubo were too far ahead. I decided to turn back.

Breithorn and Bietschhorn

It turned out to be a good decision. Since it was getting late and we had a snow cave to dig, Kubo and Vašek didn’t reach Grosses Schinhorn anyway and the good snow ended exactly at my turning point.

Back at Manibode, we found a spot with 2 meters of snow where we didn’t need to dig out an entrance corridor, because the wind did it for us. When planning the trip, we estimated 2 hours to dig the snow cave and that’s about how long it took. Next time I’ll bring a snow saw though.

Vašek working on the roof
Me standing at the entrace of our cave
We marked the top of the snow cave with skis to avoid accidental destruction

The cave had 3G internet, despite being in 2000-meter altitude in the middle of nowhere under 1.5 meters of snow. I have no idea how that's possible.

The views towards Aletschhorn (4193 m) from the cave were stunning.

Aletschhorn before sunset

Aletschhorn after sunset

Aletschhorn in the morning


Even with an open entrance, the cave was around 0 degrees Celsius throughout the night. We could have made it warmer, but as Kubo explained to me, you want to err on the freezing side, otherwise you end up very wet from the melting snow and less comfortable than in a freezing but dry cave.

A 5-star hotel at 2000 meters with 3G internet
The night was surprisingly very good. In fact, I got the best sleep in two months (about 10 hours) despite drying wet clothes in my sleeping bag and keeping 3 liters of water warm so that it wouldn’t freeze.

Our plan for the day was to climb Schwarzhorn (3108 m). When we reached the saddle below Fleschhorn, we saw the last part involved too much climbing and as it was getting late, we changed the plans to go to peak 3112m instead. Just like the day before, I felt out of power and too slow, so I stayed below the summit. We had a bus to catch and too little time.

Kubo and Vašek successfully reached the top and had some great views.

Pizzo Cervandone on the right

Vašek at peak 3112 m pointing at Bietschhorn

The downhill ride offered steep skiing in great snow with a spectacular scenery created by fog and the Sun.

We reached the snow cave for the last time, packed things and continued to Binn to catch the bus.

The end

A short selection of my photos is on Flickr and photos from all 3 of us is on Google Photos.

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