June 29th

Itinerary:  Jamtal Hut – Kronenjoch – Grenzeckkopf (3048 m) – Pass Futschöl – Jamtal Hut

Distance:  13,5 km
Time:  4 hours 50 minutes (plus 1 hour 20 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance:  990 m uphill and downhill

Good weather, some clouds on the ridges.  Left with Sonia at 7:50.  No special problems except we took all our climbing equipment with us, “just in case”, so our rucksacks were a bit too heavy.  A lot of snow still – we could not even attempt the Fluchthorn and nobody has climbed it yet this season – and we sank in up to our hips in the soft snow in some places (it did not freeze last night).  An enjoyable day, good for getting fit!

To the Jamtal Hut

June 28th

I go up to the Jamtal Hut, 2165 m, from Galtür, with my daughter Sonia.

8,2 km; 1 hour 55, without stopping; 510 m uphill, 40 m downhill.

Good weather; hut almost empty (25 people for 182 places).

Back home

June 25th

Big thunderstorm during the night.  I have achieved what I wanted to do this week, so we return home.

I start again in the Silvretta mountains on Wednesday, June 29th!

The Rhine Falls and the enclave of Büsingen

June 24th


First section:  Customs post Schleitheim – customs post Altenberg / Nohl, on the Rhine

Distance: 36.7 km, by bicycle
Time: 3 hours 10 minutes (plus 35 minutes for stops)
Vertical distance: 425 m uphill, 505 m downhill

Second section: Circuit of the German enclave of Büsingen

Distance: 14.6 km, by bicycle
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes (plus 15 minutes for stops)
Vertical distance: 170 m uphill and downhill

It was again beautiful and hot all day. I left Stühlingen by bicycle and had to cross three sets of hills before arriving in Nohl. I still had time to pedal to the German enclave of Büsingen the other side of Schaffhausen.  After 1 km I was in the midst of crowds of tourists (cycling prohibited 250 m) with a beautiful view of the Rhine Falls (see “Border Stories” No. 24.) – mandatory picture!

It was 8-9 km to the enclave, for which the circuit required an hour and a half. I then crossed Schaffhausen again to Beringen where Sally was able to pick me up.

For the record: most frontier stones around Schaffhausen dated from 1839. They were inscribed CS (= Canton Schaffhausen) on the Swiss side and GB on the other side. Later I found the solution to this riddle: GB means Großherzogtum Baden, an entity seemingly created by Napoleon.

Photo of the Rhine Falls, June 24 (with a lot of water), but not strictly on the border.


Hilly country + heat wave = a very tiring day

June 23rd

Itinerary:  Bridge on the Rhine at Diessenhofen – Thayngen – Schwarzenstein – Hoher Randen – customs post Schleitheim

Distance:  71,3 km, by bicycle
Time:  6 hours 45 minutes (plus 1 hour for the stops and 1 hour for the midday break with Sally at Opfertshofen)
Vertical distance:  1220 m uphill;  1160 m downhill

I took roads and tracks close to the border while avoiding unmarked forest paths as far as possible.  As yesterday, many paths marked on the maps and in my GPS could not be found in the field or were covered with vegetation (stinging nettles, brambles, etc).   And up and down the whole time:  not only is the countryside very hilly but in addition the border is very irregular.  It was very hot, I got tired towards the end and had to push the bicycle more and more even on gentle climbs.  (It was not a mountain bike but Sally’s bicycle, i.e. a ladies bicycle, but with good broad tyres,)

The highlight of the day was reaching the northernmost point of Switzerland, the Schwarzenstein, 821 m above sea level.  Later, coming down the Hoher Randen lost me a lot of time.  The forest road that I chose became very muddy, had been churned up by tractors and was covered in debris left by the foresters.  It was almost impassable!

Night in the pleasant hotel Rebstock in Stühlingen in Germany


1. and 2. Schwarzenstein, notice board and boundary stone
3. A forest path well ploughed up by tractors!

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Around the eastern part of the canton of Schaffhausen

June 22nd

Itinerary: Customs post Stein am Rhein / Öhningen (D) – Customs post Ramsen – Spiesshof – Rauhenberg – Bridge over the Rhine at Diessenhofen

Distance:  34,1 km (on foot)
Time:  7 hours 30 minutes (plus 45 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance:  655 m uphill; 675 m downhill

Sunny and warm. Alternation of forests and cultivated fields. In the forests the only good tracks were marked and generally led from one village or farm to another, but did not usually follow the border, which gave orientation problems and adventures in undergrowth and swampy areas.

In the fields, one had to keep to small agricultural roads, which gave a lot of tedious zigzags to stay near the border, which moreover often passed through cultivated fields. Many tractors at work, with farmers taking advantage of the sun.


1. Forest path and boundary stone
2. Boundary stone near Gottmadingen (D)
3. View of Ramsen

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High water on the Untersee

June 21st

First part: Romanshorn – border on the Rhine after Constance, by bicycle

Distance: 24.1 km
Time: 1 hour 40 minutes (plus 20 minutes for stops)
Vertical distance: 75 m uphill; 80 m downhill

Second part: Customs post Constance – Ermatingen, by bicycle

Distance: 7.1 km
Time: 40 minutes
Vertical distance: 20 m uphill and downhill

Third part: Ermatingen – Eschenz, in the kayak

Distance: 17.4 km
Time: 3 hours 25 minutes (plus 25 minutes for stops)
Vertical distance: 0!

Overcast, gloomy weather but no rain. My right shoulder still being painful, I could not risk 45 km by kayak. I left with Roger by bicycle, following the footpath that is closer to the lake (but sometimes not allowed for bicycles). The official bicycle trail is often too far from the lake and less interesting. The lake level was quite high, there were a few large puddles to cross. Reaching the Rhine the other side of Constance, we find flooded fields and give up on the idea of putting the kayak into the water, especially with a wind from the northwest (i.e. the wind would be against us). Decision to go on to Ermatingen by bicycle.

The level of the Untersee (that part of Lake Constance that lies to the west of the city of Konstanz/Constance) was 70-80 cm higher than normal: the footpath was often flooded up to about 40 cm, good fun going through on the bicycle, shoes and trousers getting wet or soaked through.

At Ermatingen we have a picnic with Sally and change the bicycles for the kayak. Several roads near the lake are flooded and closed to traffic. So we start kayaking for a section that is quite tedious because of the headwind, finally reach the border between Stein am Rhein and Öhningen (D), then paddle back on the Swiss side to our accommodation in Eschenz. Nice dinner in Stein am Rhein to bid farewell to Roger who leaves tomorrow morning.

Photo 3:  Ermatingen

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The Upper Rhine and Lake Constance

June 20th

First part:   Liechtenstein-Switzerland border on the Rhine near Sargans up to the Old Rhine near St. Margrethen, by bicycle with my son Roger

Distance: 56, 5 km
Time:  3 hours 20 minutes, almost without stopping

Second part:  The Old Rhine near St. Margrethen to Romanshorn on Lake Constance, in the 2-seater kayak with my son Roger

Distance:  27,8 km
Time:  4 hours 15 minutes

We start cycling beside the Rhine from where the border with Liechtenstein begins. Dreary weather, with a few drops of rain, but improving gradually as we move towards the north. Pleasant cycling, mainly on paved tracks. The level of the Rhine here was 2-3 meters higher last Friday; lots of drift wood (tree trunks, etc.) on the banks.

Well before noon, we meet Sally near St. Margrethen and change the bicycles for the kayak. Here on the Old Rhine there was some current the first kilometres, then you had to paddle. An awkward passage where a tree had fallen across the river, causing a “dam” of other debris (see photo). Arriving at the mouth of the Old Rhine (where there is a large marina), we head directly to Romanshorn, still fifteen kilometres away.


1.  Boundary stone beside the Rhine
2.  Drift wood on the river bank
3.  On the Old Rhine
4. and 5. Obstacle!

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On the move again soon!

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

After weeks of bad weather, having followed the snow conditions in the mountains on several webcams, I decided to start the circuit again at the Liechtenstein-Swiss border on the Rhine near Sargans and to return to the mountains later.

I left for Sargans with Sally (transport and logistics) and our son Roger who will accompany me for 2 days, the 2-seater kayak and 2 bicycles. Dull and rainy weather. We look at the river near Buchs and at the point where the river Ill pours all the water from the Vorarlberg mountains into the Rhine. Water level quite high, current very fast, a few eddies and standing waves below the bridge pillars. It would be feasible by kayak but it would be wiser to opt for the bicycle. So that’s decided!


Three cols

November 7th

Itinerary:  Samnaun village – Zeblasjoch (2539 m) – Fuorcla Val Grondo (2752 m) – Fimberpass (Cuolmen d’Fenga, 2608 m) – Val Sinestra – pt 1507  on road to Hotel Sinestra above Sent.

Distance: 27,9 km
Time:  7 hours 40 minutes (plus 55 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance:  1310 m uphill; 1680 m downhill.

Another beautiful sunny day.  This day was planned as a tour de force to leave the Samnaun duty-free zone.  The obvious destination would have been the Heidelberger Hut, already closed late September, which is more readily accessible from Ischgl in Austria.  To get back into the Lower Engadine involved crossing the Fimber Pass, with a long walk down the Sinestra valley to Vnà or Sent.  All went well, except that the stretch from the Zeblas Col to beyond the Fimber Pass required snowshoes and was laborious in the soft snow and absence of clear paths. Also, bands of grass and stones meant I had to take the snowshoes off (and put them on again) some eight or nine times in all.

Night:  Garni Pensiun Plaz, Sent

The next summits on the Austrian frontier, starting with the Fluchthorn (3398 m), cannot reasonably be done this year – there is too much snow, they would require a guide or a partner, mountain huts are closed (until the ski touring season), and the days are too short.  So they, and the rest of the frontier circuit, will have to wait until next July probably.

It has been a great adventure so far!  People have asked me how many kilometres I have done, how much I have climbed, etc.  So here are some statistics (I am grateful to my brother Rolf who started compiling the figures in a table on a daily basis).

Days involved: 98, including 5 rest days but not travel days
Kilometres covered: 1784, of which 137 by bicycle and 88 by kayak
Hours walked, cycled and by kayak, total: 625
Vertical distances:  uphill 102’660 metres, downhill 105’650 metres
Kilometres of frontier covered: 1358 (France 572, Italy 744, Austria 42)


1. Zeblasjoch
2. Fuorcla Val Grondo
3. View from Fuorcla Val Grondo to the southwest; Fluchthorn on the right

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