In The Egg, GPS on the Mattjisch – CH

Post by blogger | April 6, 2012      
Hertz charged us more than 100 euros for snow tires.

Hertz charged us more than 100 euros for snow tires. Will the rental car company rips ever end? Probably not. Meanwhile, when your tire tracks look like this and the sky looks like that, you'd better get out your GPS or hire a guide (or take the bus on this restricted road, whoops). Click most images to enlarge.

Locals suggested another Chur, Switzerland area moderate tour: Mattjisch Horn south of Fiderese Huberg (see map below). We would have liked something higher and farther, but nice to have this on the list for a morning when the rain reminded me of the shower I drenched myself with the night before.

Verbotten! Once we'd gotten the fake snow tired car turned around and parked.

Verbotten! No, not the Mattjisch Horn visible (for about five minutes) to left. Actually, it was the road which was banned. Once we'd gotten the fake snow-tired car turned around and parked, and the tour done, the bus driver informed us we were on a restricted road. Somehow I was not surprised, considering on the return we had to shovel our way out with our avalanche spades. The hardcore looking Swiss bus driver was nice and didn't call the cops. Shew. One can only imagine getting your rental skateboard towed when you're a 2,000 vertical foot hike above the village.

On the drive up, we were checking out the classic farm houses. This was Lisa's favorite.

On the drive up, we were checking out the classic farm houses. This was Lisa's favorite.

Lou's fave. One has to wonder, does the roof leak?

Lou's fave. One has to wonder, does the roof leak?

Anyhow, we drove the rad road up to parking just over a kilometer below a funky ski area consisting of surface lifts and some berg hotels that were not much more than glorified shacks, which we liked. Berghaus Arfina was the nicer of the two, Berghause Heuberge being a bit on the remodeled farmhouse side of the equation. Neither had functional internet, so nix. More on the i-net note: The only place we could find in Chur with decent internet is a bier halle in the old (and beautiful) part of the village. A bit noisy with the shouting Swiss guys and blaring American pop music, but whatever works. The brew was good, but I digress.

Lou heading up.

Heading up. GPS got us to this point, then the clouds lifted a bit. It\'s super interesting trying to GPS through a total whiteout. No brand works all that well, in my opinion. I'm using Garmin that shows a topo map, but still, it's not fine grained enough to really navigate safely in avy terrain. More, even after hours of practice I find it totally counter intuitive and weird to try and actually use the stupid thing, instead of staring at it on my desk at home. Perhaps some day I'll figure it out. My theory at this point is most GPS units are sold to mark fishing spots, or else to sit in some guy's gear closet. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Lou has to photo his girl, of course. We're near the top at this point.

Lou has to photo his girl, of course. We're near the top at this point.

Happy GPS guy on top. Despite all the whining, the thing worked.

Happy GPS guy on top. Despite all the whining, the thing worked. And we made it down as well! Yeah, short tour but with the car hassles, whiteout and so forth, typical Euro challenge.

Shew. Let us hope the weather improves. Meanwhile, we head to Austria tomorrow. We’ll see what happens after that. Big plans in the works, but weather defines all (and it is said that in the mountains of Austria there may be powder at higher elevations during mornings this coming weekend. Now that would be interesting).

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7 Responses to “In The Egg, GPS on the Mattjisch – CH”

  1. Mark Donohoe April 6th, 2012 10:14 am


    While doing the High Route in the Sierras, 2 guys caught up with us in a white out (just clouds, but you couldn’t see squat). We turned back and hung at the previous camp that day…. They pushed on with a gps. Seemed to work well for them, although they said we were the smart ones, after crossing the pass one of the guys slipped and fell. Didn’t get hurt thankfully.

    After all these years, I still don’t really know how to use it to the fullest.

  2. Lou April 6th, 2012 10:17 am

    Just arrived in Austria, time to fix the typos in the post, apologies for those… Looking good here. Quite cold, should be interesting ski touring in the Tirol for a few days coming up. Big plans for fun at the huts as well, more on that later. We sure had fun in Switzerland…

  3. Lou April 6th, 2012 10:28 am

    Mark, I have practiced with and used my Garmin 60CSx at least 100 hours, probably more, and it still drives me insane. For example, you get a nice map view going, zoomed the way you want. Then, use the buttons and menus to find a preset Waypoint on the map. Bam, the map re-appears, zoomed way out instead of zoomed in like you want it. Then you stand there with one thumb you know where and one on the GPS, clicking the little “In” button to get your zoom view back. Is there a setting to prevent this somewhere? I’ve read the manual 12 times, and been through all the menus. Very frustrating. Many other things as well. I’ve been told this is one of the better units, so I’ll stick with it and I do get results, but it amazes me how primitive it is. Lack of a control lock is an incredible annoyance as well. Bump it a few times in your pocket, pull out to use, and spend more time with one thumb you know where while you get your settings back. I really have to wonder who designs this stuff. It’s like, are they sitting in an office somewhere guessing what a person actually using the thing might need?

    Oh well, enough of my whine!!! Sorry about that. W’e’re having fun bringing you guys some WildSnow from Europe, and that’s what matters. Oh, and I should mention that United Airlines did get all our bags here intact, and the agent at the Aspen Airport, Terry P., was deserving of an award Luck held on the flights, as the pond crossing was a Lufthansa, with their superior quality of in-flight service. And we scored a three-seat row all to ourselves! Oh, and I’m totally healthy and fit this time around!

  4. Carl April 6th, 2012 12:56 pm


    I had that exact same thing happen to me up at Marble. I had a rental car and I was in the Aspen area. The car that I had…did have “snow tires” on them too. I almost made it up to the Marble parking area…and then I started losing grip. I saw the photo of your car (especially the tire marks) and I instantly had a flashback!

    I ended up slowly backing the car down. But the front car would continually drift left. Once I got too close to the edge I would put the parking brake on…get out of the car….and push the car back into the center of the road. I must have done this 100 times until the road backed off enough to back off w/o skidding.

    That was probably the sorest that I’ve ever been “skiing”. The ironic thing was that I never did put my skis on that day. It was on a Monday morning…and I was lucky that I went up super early before those big loaders started moving up and down that road! My pride/ego was somewhat redeemed because no body was around to witness this.

  5. Richard April 6th, 2012 2:18 pm

    Finished a week of touring in Austria today. Great sun & corn most of the week. New snow up high the past two days, glue and rotten snow lower down. Should be fine if it gets colder and you stay high.

  6. See April 6th, 2012 7:55 pm

    I once observed a very experienced guide navigate in a white out with a gps (on terrain he knew like the back of his hand).

    At one point he handed his beacon to another guide and skied a short distance looking at the gps the whole time.

    I was told that the beacon can mess with the gps; and that units with a compass are somehow superior. And being in motion also seems to help, somehow.

    I use a very simple gps which I program with waypoints from topo software on a computer before heading out. I then print maps with the waypoints. Gps provides bearing and distance to waypoints, and paper maps provide big picture and greater detail. If you choose good waypoints in advance, this can work pretty well (at least it has for me, in admittedly less demanding conditions).

  7. Lou April 7th, 2012 9:54 am

    Did another GPS day today, fairly major, had a few problems with the Garmin but nothing insurmountable. Batteries died in the middle of a steep slope in a whiteout, that was interesting. Then for some reason the thing started scrolling the maps in a way that made my location icon disappear, probably as a result of how zoomed I had the map. The intellect required to figure that out was not part of the equation while concentrating on not falling off a ridge. And so on. What I’m finding out is the GPS can cause one to be a bit too agro with the day’s goals. Yet another “human factor.”

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