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Camper vans have vacated the mountains and the seasons are changing. Empty trails beckon, adventures await, our new TRAIL collection is here.
For more than a century, the Kesch-Hütte has been a magnet for alpinists. More recently, it has gotten on the radar of mountain bikers.
Building a Swiss Alpine mountain hut at 2,625 metres above sea level demands materials that are capable of enduring the harsh winters in a largely untouched rugged landscape. Self-sufficient and sustainable have to be key considerations. Communal sleeping quarters at Kesch are upstairs (no shoes allowed), a shower will cost you dearly, and meals are eaten around large tables with hearty soups and pasta dishes ladled out by weather-worn staff at the hut, who probably free-climb a peak or two when not on shift.
For a mountain biking fantasy, Kesch is not a bad daytrip.
It’s just, how do you put it, a little inaccessible.
The Kesch-Hütte is a feat of architectural brilliance—both environmentally and aesthetically. Perched high in a valley between Saint Moritz and Davos, under the shadow of Piz Kesch, it is an assault on your senses.
For this ride, we’re joined by cross-country mountain biking legend Florian Vogel. Now semi-retired from competitive racing, he’s the first to volunteer for backcountry therapy. The fourth rider in our group is British enduro rider Francie Arthur. Our two friends get on well; they’re both coaches, both into bikes, and dressed for the conditions.
We start our climb from Davos before the sun rises; the October frost and chill in the air would usually make it difficult for even the length and technical nature of this climb to warm us fully — fortunately that is where the new softshell thermal additions to the ASSOS TRAIL Collection come into their own. The heat we generate matches that of our spirits, which remain as high as our satisfying core temperature. We hit the final hike-a-bike section up to the Sertigpass (2,739 msl) as the sun finally breaks into the valley, darting over the patches of ice and fresh snow at the top as if to forewarn us that winter will soon be upon us. Had the conditions not been in our favour today, there’d have been no rescheduling. Come the end of this month, the Kesch-Hütte will be out of bounds to mountain bikers and hardy hikers.
From the top of the pass, we make sure our blood sugar levels are sufficiently high before skirting down the hiking trails down to Lais de Ravais-ch Suot (2,505 msl), navigating our bikes through the high Alpine landscape. Another pause to admire the view before the climb up to the architecturally striking wooden refuge, whose image has cemented itself in our minds since we first stumbled across it in a Swiss Alpine hut brochure. First opened in 1893, it underwent a major future-thinking renovation around the turn of the millennium to render it entirely self-sufficient and environmentally sound. While still predominantly used by mountaineers and alpinists heading up to Piz Kesch and the Porchabella Glacier, sightings of trail riders in the vicinity have increased — not least because of its sunset shots.
If we were you, we’d aim to get there before the snow settles. If not, plan it for late spring 2021.
ESSENTIAL KIT FOR KESCH THIS FALL/WINTER
Cargo Pants — The wait is over for a dedicated all-winter mountain biking pant. One of our most function-driven items, these pants are tough but supremely flexible to ensure unhindered flow while guaranteeing a warm, dry lower half.
TRAIL Liner Bib Knickers — Building on our versatile bib short platform, the TRAIL knickers feature all the same benefits — support of a bib, the storage of a pack, and the protection of pads — along with added leg coverage and a few fresh updates for FW20. Wear these under the Cargo Pants for the ultimate comfort.
Cargo Softshell Jacket — Warmth, protection, and breathability. The old standard would say pick two. We say have all three. The new TRAIL Winter Softshell is a step up from our rider-favorite Spring/Fall Hoodie — cranking up the heat and boosting protection levels — to become your complete all-mountain winter ally.
LS Jersey — Light, protective coverage on the trail is something we welcome, but it usually comes at the expense of bulky pads and extra layers. Those days are behind us, as we’ve developed a new long-sleeve trail jersey that incorporates a touch of added coverage right where you need it most, making it the ultimate choice for your all-day winter ride to the Kesch-Hütte.
Skin Layer 3.3 — For 2020 we’ve completely reset our base layer construction and this all-new iteration comes in lighter and more effective than ever before. With a winter-tuned blend of carbon and polypropylene yarns, plus elastane, the 3.3 Skin Layer draws moisture away from your skin and insulates your core, keeping you dry, insulated, and comfortable from the outset. If your body runs hot, step down to the spring/fall 2.3 model with long sleeves.
TRAIL Socks — This all-new winter edition features added coverage and a thicker makeup to strike back when the going gets ultratough. It starts with the taller 24cm cuffs, which we made using a specific wool blend. Think lower-leg warmer here, as the boosted coverage lends itself to added insulation and protection from the elements.