Missing in Mount Uetliberg

zürich switzerland

It all began innocently enough. I woke up that warm summer morning in early June and peaked out the window. A beautiful sunny day. I had been planning a little hiking trip up Uetliberg, a mountain right at the edge of Zürich. This day seemed perfect for a light hike.

Sure, there were a few shops on my way there, but I thought carrying a huge bottle of water around with me would be silly and pointless – google had told me the route to the top is an easy gradual climb, and it shouldn’t take long. I’d just get some water once I get to the top, since it’s not even that hot.

And then the heat began to swelter. And then I got lost.

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My excessive enthusiasm for photography proved to be my impending doom once again. I followed the guide signs like the good boy that I am, but then I began noticing some great photo opportunities left and right. So naturally I veered off course, just to snap a quick pic or two, first here and then there. And soon I had lost track of where the path was.

mount uetliberg zürich switzerlandIf following the intended route, the climb to the top should take a maximum of 40 minutes. It took me four hours.

Also, the route was supposed to be an easy climb on an asphalt road. My route was jumping over mountain streams, running in a thick forest, climbing up a steep wall of rock.

At some point I began to panic just a bit. The route back down began to feel even more dangerous than the climb up. It was no longer possible to turn back. Not knowing if the route ahead would become even more difficult, I continued moving forward, constantly fearing that I would have to be airlifted off the side of the mountain with a helicopter and made a laughing stock on the evening news.

I managed to make it to the top alive, with my stupid courage carrying me forward and up.

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At one point in my climb I was surrounded by a thick forest, starving, dehydrated and completely exhausted. I could see the city below in the distance between the trees. Every few minutes I would give up for just a few seconds, sit down somewhere and just be still.

It was no help, of course. Sitting down just made me feel the exhaustion and thirst more. The last time I sat down I was almost certain that I couldn’t move a single step anymore. My entire body was aching and I simply didn’t have any strength left. Everything hurt, I was dizzy and I wanted to cry. I was looking at a steep wall of mulch and grass.

And suddenly I heard something. Right above my head I could hear families frolicking, eating ice cream, drinking water. Tormenting me. The summit was just a few steps away, but those last few (vertical) steps felt the hardest. Once I reached the water fountain, though, those steps felt totally worth it.

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