I wake up completely tired and exhausted and stay in my tent forever, because I can not get up to get up. The apparently germ-laden water of the previous day has put me completely out of action and given me a terribly exhausting, restless and hardly restful night. I open a tent hatch of the awning and try to orient myself, where I have set up my tent yesterday in the darkness at all and whether that was at all in the right direction? Looks like I instinctively walked in the right direction last night.
A few hikers greet me this morning. They tell me that almost 70-80% of the hikers have thrown up last night and it was on the hut, as in a hospital. Completely exhausted and unwilling, I try in slow motion to pack my equipment and take down my tent. After what feels like an eternity, I finally get it done. It's about 08:30 or 09:00, plenty late anyway, and I just think to myself, how am I supposed to put on this brutally heavy backpack, since I'm so exhausted today, and bring the 500-600 meters of altitude up to the saddle and the Similaun hut?
Somehow it works. I start walking slowly with the backpack on my shoulders. Slow as a shithouse fly that just woke up from hibernation, I trudge along the trail. How sucky, this is definitely going to be a tough day. The fact that I only have to climb about 500 meters in altitude and that it's all downhill after that gives me courage, I pull myself together and fight my way up the trail.
After a slight bend, I can already see the saddle in the distance and can even make out the hut very tiny on the right flank. It is very far from the point where I stand, especially considering how I feel, but I know that I can be up there in two to three hours, because every step and be it ever so small and slow brings me a little closer to my goal.
I keep taking breaks and resting. Especially my back and shoulders need a lot of relief today, as my physical and mental resistance is at a low point. After a while I pass a sign that says "Ötzi discovery site".
"Ah yes," I think to myself. Actually interesting, but my only goal is the saddle up there in the distance. However, I think about the Ötzi and think about what he probably did here in his time. What was his equipment like?
Was he possibly one of the first mountaineers and adventurers? All these speculations, analyses and theories are answered in more detail in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano.
Such thoughts make me briefly forget how miserable I feel today. Slow as a snail, I crawl under the heavy weight of my backpack further and further up and put one laborious step in front of the other.
After what feels like an eternity, I finally get the final climb behind me. I have finally arrived at the Similaunhütte, 3019 meters above sea level.
Immediately upon entering I realize, this hut is different from previous huts. I see the entrance area made of wood the equipment for glacier tours, crampon proof boots, ropes, harnesses, ice axes, helmets and other indications that tell me that from here ascents are made over glaciated terrain to the surrounding peaks. The mountain guides go about their activities with determination.
This is the real "mountaineer hut feeling" quite different from the previous, more touristy huts for mountain hikers. This is in no way meant pejoratively, but merely an observation.
In my opinion, you can experience the mountains in very different and diverse ways. For me, there is no "right" or "wrong", "better" or "worse". People are nowmal very diverse and very different and have accordingly different needs, abilities and willingness to take risks. The only important thing is that you meet the mountain and nature in general with respect, humility and gratitude and leave as little as possible, or preferably no traces of their stay.
I look up to the surrounding peaks and the blank glaciers and remember my tours in the ice and rock! Enclosed is a small review to the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa round!
I guess I will also have to write about it once, as we have climbed here in five days over 20 x 4000er peaks, including Matterhorn and Dufourpsitze! Leave me a comment if you also want to hear this story once!
After a short break I decide to descend over the saddle and tackle the final stage of the day. It's a two-hour descent down to Vernagt. "Well, I'll probably still manage that". I now feel slowly a little better, even if I am far from being fit again.
The descent is very steep and rocky right at the beginning and you have to use your hands in some passages for more balance and grip.
With a few pauses, I gradually fight my way down and quickly lose altitude.
The beginning of this descent in particular is magnificent because it leads through exposed and alpine terrain, offering a magnificent view down into the valley.
After a short time of descent, the railing becomes flatter and turns into a scree field. In the distance I can already see the turquoise blue sparkling reservoir of Vernagt lying in the valley.
Right down there is my destination and thus the end of today's stage reached! I overtake a few of the other "sick suffering comrades" who also feel like me on this day crappy.
You can feel that the air is getting warmer with every meter down and the smell in the air is a different one. We are now south of the Alps and this is noticeable in many ways.
The stone formations and textures are different. Sure, because we are also still higher, but also because the climate on this side of this huge stony continental wall is different due to the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. You can already feel, although it is already early September, the Mediterranean climate that prevails here.
After about two hours of descent I arrive at a small inn at the reservoir in Vernagt. There is also the rest of the ailing and battered troop.
Done! The classic E5 crossing of the Alps in 6 stages usually ends here. It was about 115km over 12,300 meters of altitude up and down over several notches, saddle and along so some of the Alpine valleys!
I put down my heavy backpack and feel the soothing relief on my shoulders. What a relief that is. I sit down on one of the benches and talk to the others, who tell me that you all feel absolutely miserable today and have fought with Ach and Brach about this stage. I sit down contentedly on one of the wooden benches and allow myself once again a refreshing ski water, while I exchange with the others, how you have fared so.
I pull my cell phone out of my pocket and research whether I should walk the rest of the way from Katharinaberg over the Meraner Höhenweg in one or two days to Merano. It is supposed to be quite a beautiful hike, but against it speaks that the weather should not be quite so sparkling. In addition, it is more of a "hike" and has even less to do with "mountaineering" than the E5 Alpenüberquerung. As you may know, I'm more of a climber than a hiker and need the challenge and exercise on the mountain rather than a nice relaxed hike through nearly flat terrain. I think the trail is highly recommended, but I decide to leave it at that and take the bus down into the valley to Merano.
So again the backpack on the shoulders and walked down to the bus stop. A bus ride follows in a hopelessly overcrowded bus that empties only slowly on the way down into the valley. The bus stops once briefly in Katharinaberg and then continues down to Naturns. There I change to the bus to Merano. As so often, I meet Hannah and Nicklas on the bus, who are on their way to the same Youth Hostel. Unlike them, I had not made a reservation, but I am lucky and still get a bed for the night.
Totally happy, I go to my room, close the door behind me and put my backpack down for the very last time that day. Finally done! This day has really demanded a lot from me, but now I can finally come to rest and recover! I don't hesitate for long and immediately head for the bathroom to take a shower. As I take off my top, I see pressure points on my shoulders and collarbones as well as on my dark blue discolored skin above my hip bones. They are all the places where the weight of the backpack has rested and been carried for the last six days. There are also a few small but numerous bruises on my abdomen because my Sony camera, which I had always worn around my neck, bumped against my abdominal crease above the hip belt. The warm shower is a relief. The water almost hurts my shoulders as it pours down on me, but I enjoy it. Finally, after almost a week, I get reasonably clean again. Freshly showered, I chat briefly with my roommate and then head out to find a pizzeria around the corner. I sit outside in front of the pizzeria, there is a light fresh wind and it has already become dark. After eating three pieces, I feel that I am already full. I fold the pizza box and go back to the hostel and to my room, move there still quickly my bed and fall immediately exhausted and satisfied in a just and soothing sleep!
That my dears was just the start of my world trip! Day number 6 of possibly 730 more days. This crossing of the Alps was virtually the beginning and the first attunement to the next two years! I am still in the center of Europe, in culturally familiar areas and the people around me speak the same language! But this will now change little by little with each passing day. The further I move away from "home", the more unpredictable the events become! I thank you that you have followed me on my way over the Alps and have accompanied me along the way. It is a great pleasure for me to take you with me and I will continue to take you with me at regular intervals on my journey eastwards around the world, when I am not trying to climb one of the high peaks and am therefore prevented from doing so. Since there has been no entry for two weeks, you can look forward to the next blog entry, because I tell you a little about my time in Merano and Italy!
Stay healthy, be brave and listen to your heart!
Your Norrdine Nouar