2008-11-29 48 9

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Sat 29 Nov 2008 in Stuttgart, Germany:
48.4118816, 9.1551395

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The hash is on a slope in the Öschenbachtal valley, at the Albtrauf - a steep slope of between 300 and 500 m elevation difference, about 710 m above sea level.

Expedition: Ekorren[edit]

I already had been convinced not to go when a closer examination of the aerial photo surfaced that the hashpoint would be nearer to the way than I thought. So there was a reasonable chance to find the spot without significant climbing, and anyway, a Cliffs of Despair ribbon probably wouldn't look that bad either (if it ever will be created, that is). I remembered that track from a visit last year as going through a deep valley and being a reasonable cycle route with an acceptable slope of up to ca. 10%. For comparison, 20% isn't uncommon in that area.

There was no chance to make it a saturday 4 pm meetup as I had to be back in town at 4, so I started already at 11 am.

It was a nice and sunny day, and not as cold as some days before. I took the shorter but steeper route, which wasn't that bad anyway, and, after slightly over an hour I reached Öschingen and crossed that village to get into hash canyon.

And then I entered the shadows, and suddenly everything changed to cold and dizzy. I now was where no ray of sun ever hits the ground. Where ice and snow persist when elsewhere they long ago turned into water and made their way to the river. Where the creatures of the night wait for their unaware victims, where every curve may reveal a new threat, be it a boar, a rolling stone, or a raptor. Where even a five percent slope may be quite a challenge - not because it would be exhausting, but because your tyres won't find any hold on the ice coat that covers the road.

And that's how it was: Iced ground, slippy as soap. The bike lost grip from time to time, I had to push it significant distances. But finally, ten minutes before the one o'clock strike, I had made it to the small clearing which is visible on the aerial photo.

I parked my bike and, after careful examination of the spot, guessed right on a route which would lead me up into the woods for the last few metres through the cut wood (which was snow covered so I neither could climb over it nor be sure whether I'd stomp on solid ground). There was absolutely no satellite coverage either, but luckily I had brought an aerial photo printout. As opposed to a map, which obviously was today's "What I forgot to pack".

I reached the spot I'd guessed, tried to make a snowman, but this was definitely not the modelling kind of snow - it was almost hard as ice and didn't stick together. So, already having earned that achievement a week before, I restrained, hanged the marker into a tree and climbed back to my bike.

How to return? Going up on an iced slope with a bike is difficult, going down is blank dangerous. So, back the same way I had come was not an option, and there were only two directions: Up and down. Further up it was, then. This finally took me to Genkingen, a small village at the edge of the Schwäbische Alb elevated plain, almost 800 m above sea level. From there I could take a larger road down to Gönningen which was clear of ice and snow, and then the fast route home, where I arrived around a quarter to three.



None that hadn't already been earned, I guess. But with all those achievements out there, you never know.