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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Monday, 8 August 2011

Epic on the NNE Ridge of the Egginer from the Mittaghorn, 8th August 2011.

Hoping for a cloud inversion on the Mittaghorn summit.

Looking at our first gendarme as we head south along the North-North East ridge of the Egginer. I was a bit apprehensive at first as although it was meant to be no harder than V-Diff for some of the moves, I was aware of there being no one else on the ridge and despite being able to see some of the lift stations, they still seemed a long way away.     
Some of the scrambling/climbing was scrappy in places, not too difficult but was it a sign of things to come?
Occaisionally a veil of cloud would cover the ridge adding to the drama closely followed by a brief spell of hailstones which was worrying, but it soon cleared leaving us just the cloud to peer through.  
The next gendarme was more "soild" and a variety of lines seemed possible although I aired on the side of caution and tried for the simplest!
We were getting close to what I thought was the lowest point in the NNE ridge, and the sight of the small glacier below seemed to confirm that. The last downclimb seemed trickier than it should've been, but we were soon on a level-ish section with possibly 20m or so to what appeared to be a final downclimb before the descent. 
At this point,after doing so well for our abilities, I suggested that instead of staying on the crest, we take a  gradually descending traverse line towards the final descent. I went first on belay, but as I moved along and down, it became clear that there was a lot of unstable rock. It was hear that I had my first feelings og doubt at my route choice and told Lorna not to descend as far as me, but to go back up to the crest (no more then 10m above) and make herself safe.
Once I was back on belay, I followed the rope as Lorna was out of sight for a while due the nature of the blocks and pinnacles.
At about 5m from the crest I came to a fridge-freezer size block.
Here it was basically walking around the large rocks, and as I stepped between the block and the mountain side - it moved.
From here everything happened so fast. The block toppled like a domino and broke in two (maybe more?). The top half went downwards, which was good as Lorna was not directly below me, and at least 5m along and very slightly below. However the remaining piece of rock decided to defy the laws of science and bounce, slide and roll towards Lorna.
As I shouted to her to move, she jumped into a recess, but not far enough.
The rock caught her right ankle between another rock , essentially acting like a vice resulting in a broken ankle.          
Looking across the the NNE ridge of the Eginner. Not far from the lowest point is where we were picked up by the Air Zermatt helicopter. I never got the names of the pilot, loadmaster or the paramedic that was winched down to us, but they were all amazing, calm and non-judgemental. Rolf, the Saas Fee mountain rescue guy who came with them was also brilliant,especially with his "shit happens", quotes!
At some point in this blog I will return to this post and talk more about the rights, wrongs, mistakes or wether it was just an accident?    

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