For a while now, away from the laptop and free wifi, especially in Grindelwald where I was reliably informed by the tourist office and various other short-sighted establishments that..”Nothing is free in Switzerland”…!!! Fortunately this is not true in most places, including City Hostel in Geneva
We did of course have a very good ‘pub-crawl’ through the main street in Grindelwald trying to logon!
Since the last upload the weather has been very mixed. The first of a few trips was to try and climb Liskamm via Kleine Matterhorn, Castor and the Sella Hut, then on to the highest hut in the Alps, the Margarita, with a view to traversing to the main summit of Monte Rosa (Dufourspitze), before descending back to Zermatt.
After this little expedition we were pretty tired of all the poor weather and fresh snow on the higher peaks, so we lowered our altitude plans away from the Jungfrau and Monch, to allow the snow to settle a wee bit. Central Switzerland turned up trumps (12/14th July) with dry granite at Grimsel and good climbing from the Sustli Hut, near the Susten Pass. Check out Schweizer Plaisir through Google and translate the pages through Google also. The guides to look for are west and east. A lifetime of bolt-clipping fun!
Azalea Beach is five minutes simple walk from the road. Here Julien is ‘padding’ one of the many good slab routes. Abseil descent is normal.
One of the many hydro dams in the area, used as a concrete canvas.
More dry, warm granite at around 4c ish on this occasion.
Mike unleashed and a bolt every two or three metres!
Another couple of hours drive from Grimsel and slightly higher, simple snowy peaks around the Susten Pass. This area also has loads of good rock climbing and all is revealed in the guide books mentioned earlier.
The Sustli Hut is only a simple hours walk away from the road.
Plenty for the botanists amongst us all around the hut.
Simple glaciers and easy peaks, Great places for novices or tired old alpinists!
We spent one night at the Grimsel Hospice. They offer anything from single rooms to dormitories and the food, location and service is very good indeed.
East Face of the Finsteraarhorn from the Grimsel Hospice balcony. This is the highest peak in the area. It is possible to trek into the Bernese Oberland from this direction, via a series of very good high huts.
Earlier we had spent one night at the Gandegg Hut, which provides good acclimatising and easy access to the Kleine Matterhorn uplift from Zermatt. The hut is also a good kicking off point for the routes on the north side of the Zermatt Breithorn. These were in good shape around 7th July with the comprehensive cover of new snow. This snow has enhanced the build up on the glaciers and is beneficial to the continued short-term state of the glaciers. The photo shows the view from the hut towards Breithorn and the Monte Rosa massif
Anyone thinking of climbing the Matterhorn, might like to re-consider. It is very snowy (7/10th July).
Evidence of recent avalanche activity on the trek towards Castor and Sella (Felik) hut.
Then another blizzard blows through and John and Julien study the scene from the first floor dormitory windows!
A day in the Sella (Felik) hut sitting out the storm. Unfortunately for John a group had walked off with his rope, so he had to descend into Val Gressoney and pick it up. Thank you very much to the hut warden and his team for tracking down the travel company, who in turn contacted the leader of the group to let them know of their mistake. Well done John Lyall for going back down to pick up your rope. Such a bloody nuisance!
Unfortunately the toilet block is detached from the hut at left and in these conditions a rather chilly and slippery walk. Not much use for the cement mixer in these conditions either.
Fortunately the clouds cleared, but our plan to traverse Liskamm was put on hold for another year as it is well known for big cornice formations and it’s slopes were loaded with windslab avalanche hazard potential.
Sella Hut in better conditions. It is possible to use a tent for free here and thus save on your hut night fee. It is part of a testing programme Ferrino Tent Test
The solo Dutch guy who tried out the cold ‘kip’ was not impressed and found his way back inside the hut by the end of the night! The tents look fine, but in the cold conditions experienced a good sleeping bag was required.
We opted to traverse the Passo Naso, which had been scoured by the north-west winds. On it’s east side there was a safe and sure way down through rocks and these were well marked by wooden posts. Make sure you find the edge carefully in a white-out and descend a good distance to the south before finding the rocks. The slopes on both sides of this shoulder could prove a problem in heavy snow. The west side on this occasion had a good, but exposed ice/snow track.
Approaching Passo Naso. It is the slope over the heads of John and Julien
We finally found the Margarita Hut on the same day as leaving the Sella hut, after a long spell of very tiring trail-blazing, often in a whiteout, but fortunately with tracks to follow at all the right places. At least the tracks agreed with our compass bearings!
The photo above shows the technique for escaping the Margarita Hut in case of fire. What it does not inform you, is that you should dress up before escaping down the rope. A case of out of the frying pan into the fridge.
Mike coming to terms with hydration tabs in gassy mineral water at 4,500 metres. He was not the first, enough said:)
Classic rock table formations at the bottom of the Grenz Glacier
We threw out the idea of traversing Dufourspitze in the face of more high winds and new snow. Descent of the Grenz Glacier was fairly straightforward, as it had a good covering of new snow and a good trail.
A group of photos below showing why the Matterhorn is not a good bet just now. These images were shot around 11/12th July
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Hi Alan, just missed you at the airport… got home in the end hey!!…how unlucky can you get..probably the first delay in the history of the Swiss Railways….. what a trip…just been looking at the photos…a great trek together with two great peaks..Goedeke says of the Gross Grunhorn… ‘the peak offers everything that an alpinist treasures…remoteness, history, excellent views and good climbing’…cant disagree with that only to say…we were in great company as well. Thanks for getting us so far as alpinists.
I will send your glove up in the post …. cant wait to see the photos and read the blog
Look forward to catching up again this winter