Bivy on the Sarstein

Sleeping High under a Blood(less) Moon

So, there was that “super moon” and “blood moon,” and I felt like adventuring under the moon again.

After all, you can’t just complain that a big part in good photography is simply the good luck of being in the right place at the right time, and then only ever stay at home rather than try and find a good place yourself.
You can’t envy others for the experiences they have and the interesting lives they lead while you yourself only just park your ass in front of the TV.

Or actually, you can complain like that very easily, and it is a very popular thing to do, but it just will not do you any good.

You want luck, you have to (also) create it.

So, I let this potential chance give me the pressure that seemed necessary to finally, quickly get some things done which still needed doing, grab my essential gear, and head for the mountains.

This time, the mountain of choice was the Sarstein.

Sarstein (Screenshot from Google Maps)
Sarstein (Screenshot from Google Maps)

The mountain is located between Obertraun, Bad Goisern and Bad Aussee, just north of the Dachstein, to which it does, geologically, belong and of which it offers nice views.
Also, it looked to have a nice trail crossing over it on not too technical a terrain – which is a concern when going to a new place for a night tour, of course.

Indeed, even as the trail was meandering in quite a few more tight turns than my GPS route showed (loaded into my Suunto Ambit3’s navigation, of course), it was generally very easy to find the path, even in nothing but the light of my headlamp.

Sarstein Path in Light of Headlamp
Sarstein Path in Light of Headlamp

It was supposed to be a full moon night, but the cloud cover was already rather heavy, unfortunately, as I started.

Through forest at first, then among high alpine dwarf trees and meadows, the trail led.
Patches of snow from the recent cold front appeared; they were not too many, but still a reminder that the temperatures had plunged.

As if I needed more reminders beside the chill in the air…

Near the top of the mountain, at almost 2000 m above sea level, it was time to organize the bivy and lie down to a short sleep until the time of the lunar eclipse, still in the dark.

Some times, I woke up, opened my eyes to say Hello to the moon which had come out between clouds, then promptly dozed off again.

3 am, my alarm went off.

The eclipse started, the moon was visible between clouds – and just as more of the moon got covered, a bank of clouds moved in and hid it completely.

Bivy on the Sarstein
Bivy on the Sarstein, Obertraun below, Dachstein in the distance, ‘eclipting’ moon above

Camera still at the ready on the backpack, bivy moved over to be able to take photos while hidden away in sleeping bag and bivy, I waited, dozed off, awoke, dozed more.

All to no avail.

The moon remained covered by clouds. Tough luck. Not even a chance for a decent sunrise.

So, I packed and moved on, up and over the top of the mountain, down the other side, into a slow dawn, back into “civilization” and headed for the next railway station from which to go home.

Crazy somehow to climb a mountain just to take photographs and sleep at altitude and in cold, all the more so while the railway stations are filled with war refugees sleeping in the rough.

“We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” — Oscar Wilde

Or then again, wouldn’t it be truly crazy to not use the chances you have, to make yourself comfortable with uncomfortable conditions and grow in the process, exactly while the going is good?

Who knows if that will hold or if physical fitness, psychological preparedness, and practical experience won’t prove their constant relevance soon enough again…


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