Ascent of Säntis on 2008-09-05

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Andrew Tibbetts
Date:Friday, September 5, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:8209 ft / 2502 m

Ascent Trip Report

Santis: 2502m, P2020m

Map: Swiss 1:50k sheet 227 T, Appenzell (200m contours).

Stats: 10km, 1285mH

Time: Fri 5 Sept 2008.

Start: Schwagalp: large car park (cable car terminus).

Route: From the car park, a trail heads S for 100m, picks up a track heading WSW, then after 300m a steep trail heads SSE up a steep spur, through alpine meadows. Reaching a line of cliffs, the trail turns L (NE), climbs steeply then traverses E, climbs steeply again, traverses NE then climbs S to a notch in the ridge, beside the Tierwies Hutte. The route now turns L (E) with the summit of Santis towering above, straight ahead. The trail continues on good rock, with steep cliffs rising on the L. It then zigzags up the headwall of the cirque (a little vague in places) with some scrambling, eventually emerging on a sharp ridge just N of a notch. Descend into this (cables); a steep scrambly ascent of a cracked slab (cable protected throughout) then leads to the foot of a summit complex. A doorway leads into a tunnel, several flights of stairs then another doorway leads into the fancy summit complex. Head up through the building, exiting at some suitable point. The summit is then easily reached: a stone-paved terrace situated a few metres SE of the buildings.

Difficulties: Several passages of scrambling, nowhere difficult, just about YDS 3. The final climb up to the summit buildings is steep but cable protected.

Summit: Stone-paved platform close to a massive complex of buildings, the most striking feature being a tall futuristic telecoms tower. The view nevertheless is extremely impressive: Santis is a complex massif with many ridges radiating from its centre, and an array of more diatant peaks.

Triangulation point: I saw none, but there must surely be one somewhere.

Notes: Following yesterday afternoon's Kramer Spitze ascent, we drove west, through Lichtenstein, arriving at Schwagalp late evening and sleeping in the car.

We awoke to a fine view of our peak, looking very alpine despite its modest height. Parking at the main complex, we started hiking at 08:00. Soon passing a pick-up truck, we watched hut provisions being loaded onto the small dedicated cableway then being hauled upwards. We ascended through steep meadows, still quite flowery even in September. For a while as we approached the first cliff band we were uncertain what lay ahead, but the route finds an ingenious way up with a few steps and some easy scrambling. We passed the bright painted Tierwies hut and are immediately confronted by our goal, with its tower and futuristic buildings looking like something out of Thunderbirds! We traverse nice rock then a small snow slope, where we see a group of hikers descending from an intermediate stop on the cable car route. Then more nice scrambling leads to the ridge. We pass a couple having minor difficulties descending into the notch. Cables now lead all the way up the impressively steep rocky slabs above. Then we are surprised to find ourselves entering a tunnel below the main buildings. Rough concrete steps, then a door leads to a big surprise - we find ourselves in quite posh surroundings, with most folk having ascended by cable car and dressed much more smartly than we are!

We soon escape the building and find ourselves (10:15) on our final summit of the trip, taking in a superb view - what a great finish. We enjoy some soup in the cafeteria, then a lovely rocky descent leads back to the car, in 1h10mins.

Our trip finishes with a longish straightforward drive back to Geneva and an evening flight back to "London Luton", as Easyjet like to call it.

Trip details and logistics:
Andrew and I arrived in Geneva early Saturday morning, Sat 23 Aug, flying from Luton, UK with Easyjet. We collected a Peugeot 308, which plenty of room for walking and alpine kit and reclining seats giving us the option of sleeping in the car should we choose to - which we normally did.

The plan was to bag a dozen Ultra-prominence summits; we also had details of many P600 summits and hoped to fit a few of these in as and when we could. Our initial Ultra was to be La Grigna with Lee Newton, but in the event Lee had car troubles and we didn't arrive in time for the Ultra, so climbed P600s Monte Barro and Corni di Canzo then met Lee in the evening.

Sun 24 we bagged LA GRIGNA SETTENTRIONALE then P600 Monte Croce di Muggio. Mon 25 after a late night drive we made an unscheduled drive-up of Monte Casale then after sleeping late, took the cable car up La Paganella. Tue 26 was our next Ultra, CIMA PRESANELLA, Wed 27 MARMOLADA was Lee's last peak before he had to go back to work.

Thur 28 was COL NUDO then easy P600s Col Visentin and Monte Grappa. Fri 29 we climbed CIMA DODICI before heading west again to meet Petter Bjorstad who joined us for a long weekend and two top quality Ultras.

Fri pm we made the hut climb to ORTLER which we climbed with Petter on Sat 30. Sun 31 was PIZ KESCH.

Then Petter headed back to Norway via Santis while we headed E into Italy again, climbing CIMA VALDRITTA on Mon 1 Sept followed by Monte Altissimo di Nago and Becco di Filadonna. Tue 2 was MONTE BONDONE then into Austria for Grosse Arnspitze. Wed 3 was BIRKKARSPITZE, Thu 4 ZUGSPITZE then Kramer Spitze. Fri 4 we climbed SANTIS, five days after Petter and a fitting finale to a very successful trip which netted 12 Ultras and a further 11 P600s in a fortnight. Just one morning's rain in two weeks!

For the big peaks we stayed in huts and ate there; otherwise we slept in the car and ate in restaurants. Hill food was supplied by an initial hypermarket session topped up at village shops at frequent intervals.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3839 ft / 1170 m
    Extra Gain:33 ft / 10 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Route:Schwagalp route
    Trailhead:Schwagalp  4436 ft / 1352 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 3
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Warm and sunny
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 10 Minutes

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