Aug 08 2011

Alps 2011

Category: Mountaineering,Scoutingash @ 4:03 pm

Recently back from 2 weeks in the Saastal valley, Switzerland, just round from the Zermatt valley that has the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa set in it.
Excellent trip, good people (about 16 of us), much fun had. Met some new Scouting friends from West Sussex, bumped into a variety of people from universities and climbing walls whilst out there, and had a jolly good time in all, if a little pricey.

Vague itinerary went along the lines of fly to Geneva, eat food, see live music, sleep.
Travel to campsite, drink beer, chill out, sleep.
Do glacial training with british mountain guide – didn’t learn a massive amount of new things but was very useful to be assured that we’re doing the right things. Played with some toys & broke the guides new Petzl crevasse rescue doofer. Long live the prussik.
In order to acclimatise, me and Matt next walked up to the Alghameller hutte & did the traverse of the Dri Hornli in an afternoon, then to follow it with a small jaunt up the Portjagenhorn. A mere trifle of a route, the description covered 2 pages of small writing in the guidebook and had the suffix (9-10 hrs). We managed to survive, although were beset with minor issues like:

  1. We left the guidebook in the hostel, and only realised 1.5hrs after setting off when we got to the start of the route at 6am.  Managed to get txt’d instructions from Popey several hours in.
  2. The weather was ming
  3. We weren’t acclimatised at all & had some breathing/fitness issues to get over.  Plus I needed to have a dump and Matt did a small amount of coughing up blood.  Mmmm.
  4. Quite a bit of the consolidated snow on the top (as opposed to the snow that was falling on us for a good chunk of the route) was falling to bits.  And as some of it was above several hundred feet of nothing, it made it tricky.
  5. having to deal with moves of probably Severe/Hard Severe in big boots on wet slippy rock.
  6. Lots of variation in route meaning some was pitched, some was moving together.  Matt reckoned around 10 50m pitches, plus a good many hours of moving together, plus an abseil in there too.

All in all then, a good day out.  The fact it was ming helped as we could’t see the massive drop to the Eastern side of us, however it meant we didn’t get any foties.  A great day out, but we were – and we recognised that we were – exceedingly lucky. 

Warning.  Do not do this at home.

We were a little destroyed after this day.  I think the next day we worked on routes at Feechi – a crag just round the corner from the campsite (300m!).  Met a lass who works at Awesome Walls there with her mates.

Next day was a Via Ferrata up the Mittagelhorn (or similar).  A lift up, 1.5 hr round, then 2hrs up in a snowstorm that came from nowwhere, then 2hrs off.  Good fun, shame about the lack of views again.  About 8 of us on that, a good day out.

Somewhere around here was a mass tresspass up the Allelinhorn.  A few parties of ours hadn’t managed to get up anything due to weather/acclimitisation so we figured it’d be a good reason to get them out having fun.  We got the lift, then another, then a train, and popped out of the mountain a LONG way up.  Geared up & then headed up to the top – with the strains of “Tainted Love” and other throwback tunes coming from the pisted area where the children-of-many-colours were sliding around on fat planks.  Or possibly phat planks.

After this … more climbing was had, but managed to trip up in the middle of town & remove most of one palm and bits of another.  Help from Jacob and DaveD in the bogs of the Dom managed to remove all grit & cut off the flappy bits of skin, and then bind my hands enough to prevent escape of too much blood.  Called the Dr & AndyM got me over there, got patched up & returned back with a dented  sense of pride.

Sporting this new injury, I didn’t want to loose any days, so suggested to some of our guys the idea of going round to Zermatt for the day.  Didn’t quite realise the cost of this (around £50 for the day … it’s a long way), but then got the cable car up & spent the day walking on the flanks of the Matterhorn going “OoooOOoooh”.  Chuffin big hill.

Think I had a day off next, but that involved walking from Saas Grund to Saas Almagell to Saas Fee and back.  Spotted a couple of new crags and had a chat with a few people climbing on there.  That was around 1st August, which was the Swiss National day.  Took Popey, Docherty, Stu, Bainbo and Bent up to Saas Fee to see an 8 part yodelling group, 6 part alpenhorn, marching band and similar things.  an excellent night, completed by staggering down the now un-lit shortcut path from Fee to Grund, and didn’t die.

Next day, decided that with gloves on I could probably do VF (or Via Ferrata).  Had a Drs appt to get my hands sorted out, so DaveD and Popey headed on up to the Jagerhorn whilst I went the Drs, then I motored as fast as possible to catch them up.  Meant that a normal 7-8 hr route had me stood at teh top after 2.5 hours, just catching them up after overtaking a lead of people on easy ground.  Not the most straightforward route though, including 90m of suspended wire bridge with around 100m drop, then a 15m suspended scramble then, then exposed VF/Climbing to the top.  Amazing route though. 

So much so, that after a rest that afternoon I took a group up the following day with Geoff.  Excellent day, everyone really enjoyed it (and Julie made proper noises), though we did slightly get caught in an alpine thunderstorm.

After that, beers were had, curry was eaten (again), and fun was had by all. 

Top trip.

Leave a Reply