If you want more than low angled glacier touring, build climbing or layover days into your Silvretta Traverse schedule. Stay at any of the huts for two nights or more, and you have time for some leisurely peak bagging or decking instead of the mad scramble that some groups go through so they can get a summit as well as reach the next hut in line. This especially true if the weather is poor. And if the weather is good, you need time for sun and socializing on the hut porch. Either way, take our advice and stay those extra nights. After all, what’s arguably the most famous sunscreen in the world is named after Piz Buin, THE peak everyone wants when they’re staying at the Wiesbadener Hut in the Silvretta, as we are.
The second highest peak in the Silvretta, Piz Buin (Romanish for Oxen Peak) is an easy day trip from the Wiesbadener Hut, the luxury accommodations nestled beneath the Ochsentaler Glacier. You skin a moderate route up the glacier to the peak’s base, where you do a short scramble to the summit. The idea isn’t for adrenaline, but rather aesthetics and alpine ambiance. And you have that in spades with everything from glacier seracs glistening with a heavenly blue that Ted mentioned reminded him of Reese Witherspoon’s eyes (just kidding, Ted), to dark rocky razorbacks that crawl upward to dozens of compelling summits.
Back to the sunscreen. Thoughout my career as an alpinist and backcountry skier, whenever I heard the words “Piz Buin” I recalled some far back advertisement or ski poster, which my imagination populated with bikini clad babes tanning on Silvretta snow near the Wiesbadener, presumably after a morning of firn skiing. I searched the net for this image, but alas, it’s perhaps apocryphal — a figment of my 20-something hormonal imagination. Yet there is hope. During my intense internet blog research, I ran across this testimony for Piz Buin, which does involve the proverbial two-piece swim suit that defines the essence of femininity for many of us in the Y chromosome class. Produits solaires indeed! Besides the mildly frisky advertising, I did find out that Piz Buin traces its roots back to a chemistry student named Franz Greiter, who suffered a Freddy Kruger sunburn while climbing the Buin in 1938. Interestingly, Piz Buin came up with the Sun Protection Factor (SPF), which of course is now used to rate most sunscreens, (though the accuracy of that rating is always an open question in my experience).
Well, enough with the sunscreen. On with the tour. In photos:
Oh, and about those rooms. After inhaling my standard beverage on the sun porch, I trekked up the stairs to last night’s lodging, only to encounter a locked door. Not normal, as they don’t normally lock the doors here when a room is in use. After heading out for a recon I find Ted in discussion with the hutmaster, surrounded by plastic buckets full of our belongings. Were we evicted for consuming too much spec, or something equally evil? No, our only sin is we’d spent the night in room 2 on the FIRST FLOOR instead of the SECOND. Turns out a common EU way of numbering floors is to start with number one as the floor above the ground floor. The room we ended up in was kept for extra staff and thus a bit more luxurious than normal. The regular double room we moved to was tiny, with one bunk stacked just a few feet above the other. But it was perfect anyway. I only missed the Italian game shows.