Information and photos of my mountaineering trips in Scotland,England and Wales:
Including hillwalking,scrambling and easy rock climbing.Also via ferrata, skiing and alpine trips in Europe.

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Friday, 13 August 2010

Swiss Alps - Weissmies 4023m by the Normal Route, 13th August 2010.

To get to the start of the "normal route" for the Weissmies, we took the first (7.30am ish) lift from Saas Grund right up top the top station at Hohsaas at3200m. From here we followed the main track past the Hohsaas Hut and onto the edge of the Trift Glacier. The weather wasn't to inspiring at this point and the view up to the glacier was the same. As we geared up amongst the jumble of rocks, there was talk amonsgt some of the guides of maybe turning back if it didn't improve.

However we were soon off the tricky rocky section and onto the glacier itself following the trail across and over to the seracs on the right hand side, easily bypassing any crevasses on the way.

After the interesting section throught the seracs (more pictures from the way down later), we soon on the broad ridge leading up to the summit.

The track just went up and up with a few slightly flatter sections, but most of the time we could see the final summit section looming ahead. 

As it got higher and a little steeper most teams started to slow down and as the weather improved we took the opportunity to take more photo's, if only to have a rest!

Looking back down over the Trift Glacier to the Hohsaas station and hut, with the Jegihorn in the background and the Lagginhorn to it's right.

Serious mountaineer pose.

Cheesy summit pose at 4023m on the summit of the Weissmies.

Lorna trying to look elated after a hard slog up to the top!

The snow ridge along to the foresummit; the route we would've come along by, had we stayed at the Allmagellar Hut on the other side of the Weissmies.   

Fantastic view of the seracs and a huge snow cave from above.

And the snow cave on further inspection. Note the route of the track above it.

Heading back across the Trift Glacier and a better view of some of the big crevasses.

Back at the start point looking across the glacier towards the summit. It was then on to the cafe for a well earned strudel and custard before heading back down to Saas Grund and the end of an excellent week. One schoolboy error I made today was not enough sun cream thinking it would stay in "Scottish conditions" and consequently we ended up looking like lobsters for a few days, including the white panda eyes where the glasses were!
I don't know if Lorna has the bug for this alpine stuff, but I certainly have, so hopefully I/we will be back next year. The Swiss transport system is fantastic and with a weeks lift pass we could take any lift any time and jump on and off the post busses as we pleased. We stayed at the Hotel Roby in Saas Grund, where Christian, the hotel manager also cooks excellent food. Roll on 2011 !

Swiss Alps - Mittaghorn Via Feratta 3144m, 13th August 2010.

With a forecast of Scottish style weather we opted for a shorter easier day and took the Alpin Express gondola to the middle station at Morenia 2550m. From there we took the well marked path over various boulder fields to the start of the Mittaghorn Via Feratta. This is graded Easy-Medium and is a far cry from the Jegihorn we did earlier in the week. In fact most of the route is rough exposed walking on the ridge and we didn't clip on for a lot of the route until the final steeper sections. The fact that we had Scottish conditions though did make the rock quite greasy in places and despite it's low grade, in some parts a slip could still spoil your day!

The route basically follows the ridge all the way to the summit cross which can just be seen through the mist.

It's only near the top that the route becomes a little harder with a few stemples and the occaisional exposed move, but all very easy and well protected. The summit was pretty chilly so we had a quick bite and headed back down the walkers path and another well earned beer in the deserted Plattjen restaurant before taking the lift back down to Saas Fee. Tommorrow we plan to do the Weissmies by the normal route so a fairly early night is in order.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Swiss Alps - Allalinhorn 4027m via The Hohlaubgrat, 11th August, Day 2.

And so after not the best of sleep listening to the hippo two beds away from me, came the dreaded knock at the door at 4am. Rather annoyingly the hippo or his pals on the top bunks didn't bother to get up, and were still in bed by the time we'd had our breakfast and left! Anyway we were out of the hut by a leisurely 5am, giving me time to confirm the way we were going in the dark, after a quick a quick recce the day before, and to casually spy on other folks to check the way. From the hut we descend a loose and rocky path down onto the boulders at the edge of the Hohluab Glacier. In daylight this would be easy, but in the dark with a bit of a drop to the left it took a little more care.
Although I knew the general direction, I wasn't sure of the actual route across the galcier so I kept the team in front in my sights whilst we stopped to put crampons on.

It was still pretty dark as we made our way across the glacier, but thankfully there weren't any major crevasses and what there were, were easily crossed.

The way ahead looked a bit ominous in the dark but I knew we had to bear left-ish at some point to gain the start of the Hohluabgrat ridge which would lead us all the way to the summit of the Allalinhorn.


Lorna trying not to look tired as we stop for a wee break. A team of four can be seen ahead on the snow slope, centre of the picture.

Me, also just starting to wake up. Despite the dark and gloomy start, and being on top of a sheet of ice, it wasn't all that cold and pretty soon the sun would be up.

Soon we were off the ice and onto the snow slope, zig-zagging our way leftwards towards the central rock band that forms the Hohlaubgrat. 

We were getting level with the Mittel-Allalin, the worlds highest revolving resteraunt (apparently) as the piste bashers for the Saas Fee ski area set off to work.

Looking back over our route over the Hohlaub Glacier as the sun rises over the Swiss Alps.

Gradually the slope gets a little steeper as you get higher up the ridge.

The Lagginhorn and Weissmies above the clouds in the distance.

More teams arriving having left from the middle station of the Metro underground railway that goes up to the Mittel-Allalin.

High above the Mittel-Allalin. The middle station has a tunnel that leads out onto the glacier somewhere central at the bottom of the rock ridge, about centre of the picture.  

Lorna leading for a while as the summit of the Allalinhorn comes into view.

The final easy snow crest that leads up to the 30m rock band.

This is where the fun, if you can call it fun really started! This part is a 30m section of about V-Diff, however there was a queue of people waiting to get up it. At one point a Swiss guide led his clients up through what we thought were people still climbing up the route. It turned out that they were attempting to come down the way most folks were going up and causing chaos. We must have waited at least 45 minutes or longer as body after body (about 8-10 in all) came down by various methods and different ropes, making going up far to dodgy. At one point we moved from our uncomfortable and exposed stance to make ourselves safe around a spike, only to have one of these jokers knock Lorna's axe from it's snow placement and send it on it's way down to Saas Fee. Luckily I caught it, but the offending abseiler arrogantly said it wasn't his problem as it wasn't his axe - nice! Then another female landed in the exact spot where Lorna was standing only minutes earlier, and slid several feet before her crampons stopped her. Had Lorna been there she would've been sent for a bit of a slide! Eventually they buggered off and left us in peace to climb up.
(I think they were Italian though I'm not sure?).


Lorna finally getting peace to climb the bolted 30m pitch which also has bits of tat for aid if you find it a little sketchy in crampons, but otherwise it's not too bad.

Looking down to the Mittel-Allalin and Saas Fee.

Lorna finally triumphant at thesummit cross on the Allalinhorn.

Me and my helmet at it's annoying jaunty angle!

From the summit we took the "normal" route down to the Mittel-Allalin for a well deserved beer and a free trip down on the underground Metro (I don't know how it happened, but we never got to pay?) then the cable back to Saas Fee.


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Swiss Alps - Allalinhorn 4027m, 10th August 2010, Day 1.

After two days of "warming up", we decided to go for the Allalinhorn via the Hohlaubgrat Route from the Brittania Hut. However with time to kill, we had a couple of shots on the Feeblitz bobsleigh run in Saas Fee first. We then took the Plattjen lift once again to 2500m and then the path that passes below the Mittaghorn and continues on to the Brittania Hut at 3030m which sits above the Chessjen Glacier. And with more time to kill we stopped for a drink at the resteraunt by the lift. This route takes about two hours although there is a shorter approach from the Felskin lift but that seems like cheating!

On the way we passed below the Mittaghorn and the ridge leading round to the Eginner at 3370m.

As we made our round we go our first veiw of the Brittania Hut overlooking the Chessjen Glacier.

We also made a few friends on the way - maybe we would see them again in a stew later at the hut?

They obvioulsy weren't too bothered by people as they just barged their way through on the path - very alpine like manners!

Looking back down the moraine slopes to our route just before crossing the glacier.

It was interesting to see so many day walkers slipping and sliding around on the glacier seemingly unaware of the possible dangers atlhough on a day like today, it all seems benign. Crampons weren't neccessary but there were still a few holes to fall down especially at the edges, just where all the day walkers were trying to "ski" down in their boots!

One of the safe crossings over the soft edges of the glacier.

Almost at the hut now with the glacier below, the Eginner in the background and the route from the Felskin lift through the middle of the picture.

At last after a seemingly long two hours in the afternoon heat, we arrived at our "hotel" for the night at about 3pm ish - The Brittania Hut sitting at 3030m.

We had aleady booked the day before by phone and although most of the staff speak good english, and me a little german, they still had the wrong name down in their book. However we still got a bed for the night although sleep was at a premium as we had the loudest snorer in Switzerland in our room! I did take ear plugs and my headphones for some music but I was just too lazy to get them out. Still the food was excellent and we had a good conversation with two lads from Belgium: Wim and Dennis who managed to eat any left over food they could find! They were heading for the Rimpfischorn with a 3am wake up call, and so retired even earlier than us who had a 4am call for the Allalinhorn.

From the hut looking out over to the Stralhorn (i think?) at 4190m. So after a couple of beers a good meal it was heads down at about 8pm and attempt to get some sleep. It wasn't long before there was a knock at the door inviting us for breakfast... 

Monday, 9 August 2010

Swiss Alps - Jegihorn VF, 9th August 2010.

Monday morning and we were more organised and hired our VF kits (10chf , about £6ish) and took the Hohsaas gondola up to the middle station, Kruezboden at 2400m. From there a stiff walk took us to the start of the Jegihorn Via Feratta. There are also a number of climbing routes on the Jegihorn which we noticed several teams on.

The Jegihorn itself is the peak on the left at 3206m, but the VF route goes up the face of the right hand peak, then takes you across a wire bridge from right to left which is just visible spanning the two peaks.

The route winds it's way up with constant views across to the snow capped Weissmies.

A closer view of the Weissmies with several teams making their way down.

The start of the route takes a line up the chimney feature to the left pf the picture which if you look closely has a couple of people already in it.

The route then bears left so get to see the wire bridge a little closer - no way back now!

Once you've taken your first closer look at the bridge, the cable winds back to the right, up ladders and over exposed slabs. The Weissmies Hut can be seen way below.

As you reach the summit of the right most peak you get to look down on the rest of the route as people shuffle their way across the huge drop below.

You can also see the cargo net which you also have to climb, facing out only to reach even steeper and more exposed rock!

As the cable takes you down to the bridge the true size of it all becomes  very real!

I was hoping to do the easier route to the right which 
 avoids the bridge (two people in red and blue are near the top of it in the picture) but after seeing a 10/11 year old Swiss boy do it I guess I had no choice!

After the andrenaline filled crossing comes the strength sapping cargo net but at least you get to look all the way down to the rocks below!

And then after the cargo net comes the exposed ledges and cracks before the route eases off at the summit. Im some places, extra holds had been made by bolting peices of rock to the face of the mountain -some of which were a bit loose!

Jegihorn Summit video.

However the struggle was worth it and the crack with other teams crossing the bridge was priceless. Pant filling jokes seem to cross all languages! We also got great views of the entire Saas valley.
The photo above shows the Weissmies with the Trift Glacier below and the centre section of seracs and crevasses you have to cross.

 Saas Fee at 1800m overlooked by over half a dozen 4000m + peaks.
Click here for Saas Fee map.

Taschorn 4491m, Dom 4545m (Highest Swiss peak solely on Swiss soil) and Lenzspitze 4294m.

And then it was a 2 hour dash to catch the last lift down from Kreuzboden!