Another thirty minutes of hiking upwards brought us to the higher hut. Called the Capanna Adula UTOE (yes, very strange that it goes by the exact same name as the lower hut, with the only difference being the club affiliation), the hut is a sturdy stone structure with a metal extension, and sits at an altitude of 2393m (about 7900ft). It has a panoramic view towards the Valle di Blenio and down the Val di Carassino. There are great views of nearby mountains to the south (especially to one nicely-proportioned peak called the Cima di Gana Bianca), but the hut's view of the Rheinwaldhorn itself was blocked by a shoulder of a nearby peak.
Although the sun was out in full force and the view was fabulous, the first order of business was getting settled inside the hut. Just like the lower hut, the Adula UTOE hut was in "winter" mode, meaning it was currently un-manned. Normally this isn't a problem, as one of the doors is left unlocked. Today, though, that wasn't the case. Every door we tried was locked. The ground windows, too, were shut.
We stood around for a bit outside the front of the hut. Would we be forced to descend back to the lower hut for the night? Not an attractive prospect.
We came from Dangio
We then noticed that the second-floor window above the front door was un-shuttered. And there was a metal ladder hung on a hook nearby. Might it be possible for us to "break in" to the hut by climbing the ladder to the window and trying to force it open?
Break and enter
We sent the lightest of us - Jenn - up on a mission to find out. We soon noticed that one of the windows had an external handle. Hmm. Perhaps people are meant to get in this way when the hut is closed down. Sure enough, the window was unlocked, and an easy turn of the outside handle and the window swung inward. We weren't going to be stranded outside after all! (we would find out later that the outside of the shutter for that window had the sign "winter entrance" written on it, which would have made it obvious had the shutters been properly closed).
Ferrying gear inside
Not feeling like criminals anymore, we had Jenn open one of the ground floor windows and we ferried our stuff inside. We set up our sleeping quarters in the warm, bright front part of the upstairs dormitory (the whole dormitory is very clean and spacious, by the way), then returned outside to enjoy the beautiful afternoon that had developed. An afternoon that had developed in spite of a forecast of unsettled and potentially stormy weather.
We had arrived at the hut at a very civilized time - shortly after 4pm - so we had lots of time to laze around and relax. We had dinner sitting on the stones in front of the hut, watching puffy clouds drift by below in the Val Soi. If only this sort of weather continued into tomorrow, we'd be laughing.
Unlike the Cavardiras Hut three days before high up in the Glarus Alps, at this hut we had liquid water to work with. This meant we didn't need to bother with lighting a stove and melting snow. We simply scooped water into our containers from a meltwater-filled trough located nearby.
Beautiful sunny afternoon
We could see only a little bit of the first part of our planned route to the top of the Rheinwaldhorn from here. The cairns of an alpine trail could be seen heading off southwards, up an intermittently snow-covered slope, and around a corner and out of sight. Although I knew what the rest of the route was supposed to look like in my mind's eye, I probably should have been less lazy and walked up a bit to scout things out.
Instead, we lounged about in the warm sun in front of the hut for another hour or so.
In contrast to the beautiful afternoon we were experiencing, our last look at the forecast for tomorrow had not been promising. It called for a high chance of rain and thunderstorm activity, especially in the afternoon. We concluded, therefore, that our best option was to attempt to get the summit and high-altitude parts of our day completed as early as possible. As a result, we planned for a very early start: up at 2 a.m., and out on the trail by 3. We decided to head to bed at 7 p.m. in order to get a decent amount of shut-eye.
You may be wondering when the two final pictures from today were taken. Answer: I got up briefly at 9pm to take a shot of the sunset sky.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Rheinwaldhorn Day 1 - click map to view
Dangio to Adula UTOE hut - Climb Data (Rheinwaldhorn day 1)
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet