«The Cassons Ridge is easily reached from Flims by cable car»

if it ran...

I've been bored a little so I made some hike and fly plans for the weekend. It was friday eve and I searched Google Earth for mountains with neat south faces. I found a few and decided that the Cassons Ridge in Graubünden will be the one. I also checked the weather for Saturday: a little foggy in the valleys but for higher levels nothing but blue sky and no wind at all.

I went up early on Sat to catch the first train. I listened to the radio and it seemed to me that I'm gonna encounter the first problem here. There had been an accident in Zizers which is pretty close to my destination. The news guy said that people in surrounding areas need to keep their air conditionings shut off and their windows and doors closed. No details. WTF? Okay, that ain't gonna stop me yet. As I was passing Zizers, a large hall and a few burnt out cars whitnessed the accident - the smell all around there, indeed, didn't seem to be too healthy :-/

I arrived in Flims at 9.45h and about 20 minutes later I was on my way up already. There was almost nobody on the same track which was, on one hand, relaxing, and on the other hand a little scary. It was certainly not a climbing trip but I found some steep parts of the track a really tough nut to crack - not surprising when carrying this f***ing 25kg bag... I was so damn exhausted after even reaching only half of the projected height and more than once I found myself on the edge of giving up. This definitely proved to me that "the higher the harder" was not just a phrase - this was a real fight against the mountain, against myself - and for oxygen :-) Somewhere at around 2'400 there was a real steep part and I needed to take a break every two minutes or so. I heard the capricorns laughing at me... okay, this was just an imagination, but their moving causing rockfall was not. My way was right in this danger zone and the need to hurry on the steepest part of the track with almost no more energy was damn hard.

However, at 16.30h I reached the top station of the cable car at 2'650 (which takes you there easily :-P ). I decided not to fly back to Flims this evening - katabatic wind caused bad take off conditions. It was not going to be a cold night. I prepared my glider as a sleeping bag on the station restaurants terrace. No one there - really peaceful. I still had got enough supplies with me, so nothing to worry about.

The night was very clear. I don't remember having seen that many stars before. Temperature was only a few degrees below zero. My 3'000-francs sleeping bag, although not very soft, did a very good job (I was actually sweating in it). Nevertheless, I woke up more than once. Later that night I found an open door. A sleeping chair, a few blankets and tiled stove with wood and some matches pledged a chilling night. Two beer were just the icing on the cake :-D

As the sun rose I made some hot water in the oven with an iron tea pot. There was black tea, peppermint, lime blossom... After this breakfast I cleaned everything up, repacked my bag and went up to the plateau of the Cassons Ridge. I enjoyed the view up there for like two hours, took some shots (you could faintly see Dufour Peak which proved a visibility of 150km!!) and then prepared myself to fly back to Flims. Wind was much better again, so easy take off. I enjoyed seeing deep blueish greenish Lake Cauma and the Martin's Hole just after take off. The conditions in the air were smooth, you don't expect lots of thermals these days. About 15 minutes later I had solid ground under my feet again (no ground felt better though) and everthing was over.

This was my first hike and fly trip so far and it was very cool. Of course, once up there, you can never be sure to find the right conditions to fly, but it turned out to be a great motivation (probably) not to have to walk back. There are two things that I would change for the next trip though: first: lighter equipment; second: separate coaches for families with children!!!

Take care :-)

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