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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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.


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