A Change for the Better

I had no aspirations or plans for today. So I was rather discombobulated to look out of the window at 7.30am and see blue sky. A mild sense of panic set in. I had to do something – there were only two days left here – but what to do. I discounted my original plan at the start of the holiday for an eight-hour hike to a distant col – I was not sufficiently well organized to get out early enough for that to be a viable option.

I settled on a walk to the Britannia Hut – always a sentimental journey as it was the first hut I spent a night in 52 years ago. By the time I had breakfasted, sorted out my rucsac and was ready to leave, the blue sky was already being replaced by strategically placed clumps of cloud. But I wasn’t going to be denied a day out. A half-hour, two-lift uphill ride and I was at Felskinn ready to walk. The sky was confused, peaks were partially obscured.

The walk to the Britannia Hut is generally a straightforward reasonably level walk across angled snowfields. In good conditions it takes about an hour. It’s a popular outing, although many of those who attempt it are really ill-prepared and equipped.

_DS70078_edited-1The first sighting of the hut was not that inviting. Visible in the cleft in the ridge, the clouds were down and the signage was sobering. I don’t remember previously seeing a ‘Closed’ sign or an advisory notice on the right reminding those who bothered to read it that this route was ‘for experts’. Clearly the signage had little effect on several families with small children and the occasional dog who were plodding onward.

The view back was better. The peaks of the immediate Saas valley were in sun and formed a dramatic backdrop.

_DS70077_edited-1The signage was appropriate. This was a tricky walk. I’ve walked this many times before but today the route was two-boots-width for long sections, (intimidating for some), rock fall littered the angled snow slopes, and there were a few outcrops of unstable rock to traverse. And at the journey’s end there was a minimal view.

_DS70065_edited-1There were brief moments when the sun attempted to pierce the cloud, and there were small patches of blue in the sky but none were headed our way. There was no distant view to be seen although I knew exactly what I should be seeing. But it was enjoyable to get my legs moving in the high mountains.

I headed back – thankfully some parties with small children had retreated and I endeavoured to advise others. Hopefully all made the right decisions eventually. I was back in Saas for lunch and this afternoon ended with a small shower. How predictable!

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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12 Responses to A Change for the Better

  1. oneowner says:

    It sounds like a good day to me.

  2. Lisa Gordon says:

    So glad you got out there!
    It looks like it was a wonderful day, and the views are just beautiful.

    • LensScaper says:

      On a clear day the views are superb – it’s knowing what is possible that makes the invisible harder to bear sometimes. But the high mountains above Saas Fee are a superb.

  3. shoreacres says:

    That’s not exactly what I think of when I hear the word “hut.” It looks rather palatial, actually. Too bad about all the clouds and such, but it does look like a great day. It looks cold, too – what’s the altitude there?

    • LensScaper says:

      Huts have come a long way in the last 150years. They were very primitive originally – designed as a staging post on the way to one of the high mountains in the Alps – a place to sleep, stay dry and rest. You brought your own food. Nowadays the accommodation is good, the food often excellent and they even have hot showers and better still proper toilet facilities. This hut is at just over 3,000 metres (that’s about 9,750ft). That’s an average height for climbing peaks that range from 13,000 – over 14,000ft in this area of the Alps. Despite the cloud it wasn’t cold – just a T-Shirt and lightweight fleece, but I always carry more.

  4. Phillip says:

    It looks like a beautiful place! Beautiful shots!

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Phillip. This is one of the most beautiful areas in the Alps with the greatest concentration of the highest mountains anywhere in the European Alps.

  5. What a beautiful place to be!

  6. Len says:

    I see you finally got some blue sky Andy. The clouds are nice in that image. That is also quite a “hut”. In the states we would call that a house.

    • LensScaper says:

      They are still called huts or in german: ‘Hutte’. This one sleeps 134 people – bunk beds, small dormitories and there may even be some rooms for families. Not sure on that point. But they are really so much better than even 10 years ago.

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