Stubai: Habicht

Next: Wilder Freiger to the Muller Hutte

I packed some stuff (too much as it turned out) and headed off to the Stubai. First stop is the Innsbrucker Hutte (interior pic, including the lovely huge ceramic stove) and first mountain is the Habicht, which SummitPost doesn’t take too seriously, at least for the Voie Normale. Probably correctly; it isn’t hard in decent conditions. Last year I failed after backing off in heavy snow conditions and thick cloud. I was about 270 m off the summit but couldn’t see that on the ground, due to the cloud, and my old watch, unlike the new 610, wouldn’t tell me my GPS height.

But this time I could see the mountain from the hut:


That’s the East ridge above the initial grass I suppose, which is most of the route; you can’t see the summit at this point. The route is well marked (if not covered in snow; I’ll stop saying that) but somewhat unsatisfactory, in that it bobbles up the rather broad ridge and could really go almost anywhere; though of course its sensible to follow the marked and in places made route.

Looking back from nearly the start of the rock section down to the hut and the Kalkwand:


Around about here are a couple of plaques to remind you to take care:


And there are good views down into the Pinnistal with the long and zig-zaggy path up to the hut:


There’s even some meteorology to be seen:


Above the ridge you start getting to the snow and can just see the summit cross:


And higher still, looking back, I can see my tracks across the snow and down to the hut:


Then the somewhat rubbly final ridge:


and a bit more:


to the top:


Sorry, no selfie. When I got back down the view was back to “normal”:



* GPS track.
* Diary: Sat 1, Sat 2, Sun 1, Sun 2, Mon 1.

Independent Scotland doesn’t seem like a good idea to me

Yes, Stoat, the pundit you’ve all been waiting for. Well, at least one person asked.

Coming back from hols I misread a headline on my phone (I don’t have data roaming so gloriously missed everything while I was away) that suggested that Scotland had voted for independence. “Good for them” I thought, though I was surprised they’d been that brave. Then I realised I’d misread it. Anyway, the point is that whilst my overall opinion is that the Scots should vote against independence, my view isn’t very strong, and I do at least feel emotionally in favour of independence. But as an exercise I’ll try to write down a coherent view.

Incidentally, there’s a quite separate reason for wanting (or opposing) Scottish independence: that Scots voters would no longer elect politicians whose opinions would directly affect votes in Westminster. Some would be quite happy to see SI just for that reason; others oppose it for that reason. I’m not interested in that aspect for the moment.

On pure economic / financial terms, its hard to see how SI will help. There are three losses: (1) direct financial support from the UK (Barnett formula); (2) frictional costs (managing the shadow pound, import tariffs, defence, whatever) and (3) capital / business flight (many things that might once have been agnostic about setting up in either Scotland or England are more likely to choose England in future). Set against that there is only the fairy stories about majick oil revenues; those fables won’t come true. I don’t really buy the bit about not being allowed into the EU though; that seems like nonsense to me. The idea that an indep Scotland would be richer and more dynamic doesn’t seem plausible; their tendencies, if anything, are more socialist, which isn’t going to lead to a more dynamic economy, quite the reverse. Note, BTW, that Scotland already has the power to vary income taxes but has never been brave enough to use it, for the obvious reasons.

From the press coverage I get the impression that many on the Yes side are either pretending to believe in the fairy stories the SNP are telling about oil; or are just ignoring the economics issues as something that can be set aside for now and solved later. Surfing a wave of joy-of-independence-now, pay-later. In a certain way I can sympathise with this: I’d be quite ready to believe that losing 10% of GDP, say, was worth the joy of independence. But I don’t see quite how that fits in with the promises that people are being given (see, e.g., the SNP on independence; cite). “Fairer” is very nice; but a levelling-down fairer won’t make the proles happy.

Far too much of the debate I hear on the radio isn’t rational. That’s all very well for general elections where you can change your mind a few years later. It might all end badly for SI.

To my mind, Catalonian independence makes more sense than the Caledonian variety. Spain is the Euro, so Catalonia has no currency problem. Spain is in Schengen, so Catalonia would be too. And defence is less interesting, and so on. Quite a few of the frictional problems vanish.

[Update: 2014/09/17:21:50: and just to nail my colours to the mast: I think the result will be No, by a larger majority than the polls are predicting.]


* It Would Be Impossible For An Independent Scotland To Establish A Sovereign Oil Fund – Timmy (who really ought to update his photo).
* How a nation went mad – Bagehot, the Economist.
* The welcome return of Plumbum
* Luv2suckbigcok says Yes, but Grindr as a whole says no.

The EU should not ban vacuum cleaners

vaccuum I’ve been on hols, so allow me to be a little behind the times. The EU is proposing to ban vacuum cleaners of more than 1600 watts. If you follow that link you’ll find a fairish discussion of whether this matters or not: its easy enough to argue that no-one needs more than 1600, and that Evil Manufacturers merely push the wattage up to fool Idiot Customers into buying something that “must be better”. The EU itself says It is not power that makes a vacuum cleaner perform well. The EU will now require that all vacuum cleaners clean well and at the same time avoid wasting electricity. This will ensure quality, help consumers save money, and make Europe as a whole use less energy.

But all this is besides the point. We – or at least I – don’t want to live in a Soviet-style command economy where bureaucrats decide what’s best for us, or what variety of Trabant we’re allowed to purchase. If we have bureaucrats with nothing better to do than this then excellent: fire them all and reduce our taxes by a tiny amount. The correct solution to costing carbon is to cost carbon; not to impose thousands of micro-regulations on aspects of behaviour as trivial as choice of vacuum cleaner.


* The hairdryer conundrum– David Hone.
* A Republican Scientist Explains Why Coal Is Expensive – Barry Bickmore

Did you miss me – yeah – while I was away?

I’ve been on holiday in the Stubai. It was great. My apologies for the few comments that got stuck in moderation over the past two weeks, they are all released now. If you think there’s anything else do let me know.


Be reassured that I will bore you with more mountaineering photos in the near future. In the meantime a teaser: which peak is this?