Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Alpine Road Trip

Reuben Berg and I planned a trip where we would climb in a different mountain area through out the week while taking in some of the finest roads Switzerland and Italy have to offer.
We drove from Chamonix to Andermatt then walked up to the magnificent Salbits Hut. The next day we climbed the stunning route "Paralleler Ostgrat" above the hut before moving onto via the impressive Oberalp pass the via Laax to Pontresina.
The weather on the Wednesday was a bit mixed so we headed on and over to the Stelvio Pass which at 2785m is the highest road in Europe. From there we drove to Bolzano where we stopped at the Mesner Mountain Museum where we got to see the great man himself.
Thursday we drove through into the heart of the Dolomites and climbed on the iconic Cinq Terre.
An early start on Friday was needed to make the most of seeing the mighty walls of the Cima Grande before traversing a fascinating war time via Ferratta which passed through a series of tunnels before gaining a ridge line.
It was then time for a dash back to Chamonix, this time via a very hot and sticky Milan with temperatures hitting 38c.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

South Ridge Of Salbitschiijen

Peter Little decided to go and climb the South Ridge Of Salbitschiijen. We were not disappointed. It is possibly one of the best climbs of its grade I have ever done. Each pitch was magnificent. We were lucky with the weather too. The previous day had been very windy but for us it could not have been better. The down side was that we were not alone. Another 10 teams on our route. Peter and I managed an out flanking move and got to the front and therefore had an uncluttered run all the way up the route.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The 1st Casualty of war is the plan

This phrases could just as well be attributed to mountaineering trips. Our plan was to complete the mountains above Zermatt which form the border between Italy and Switzerland often referrred to as the Italaian High Level route or the "Spaghetti Tour." Our team was Alan, Mark, Clarke and Miguel plus James Thacker our other Guide

Day 1 We walked to the Gandegg Hut to acclimatise. The weather was windy and rainy which meant that the other people staying in the Hut did not turn up. This was a pity because it was Kate Moss plus a group of super models shooting for H&M's winter brochure and using the Matterhorn as a backdrop.

Day 2 The weather was even worse and so the Kliene Matterhorn lift was again shut so we bailed back to Zermatt where we talked through the options . Our new plan was to get up early and push 2 days into one.

Day 3 The new plan fell apart before it started when the cable car broke down leaving us stranded for 2 hours. We missed our opportunity to get a safe early start and had to re plan , but we could not get a booking in the hut we needed. So we re -booked into a lower hut the Mexxalma hut. We did however enjoy beautiful weather and enjoyed a magnificent traverse of the Breithorn 4164 m.

Day 4 More high winds so we descended the beautiful valley to St Jaques where our new plan was to take a taxi around to the next valley: Gressoney. Our luck changed and we managed to find a Land Rover Taxi straight over the mountain. We arrived at the Gnifetti Hut back on track. This hut would have to be one of the best in the Alps - super friendly staff, excellent food, free wifi and hot showers.

Day 5 Bad forecast we could not get back over the col des Lys to Zermatt. We did however manage to climb Pyramid Vincent 4215 and the Balenhorn4167m. We then had to figure out another way back to Zermatt. We descended back to Gressoney where we struggled to find a taxi. [My usual taxi had cleared off to Tuscany for the summer]
The plan was to drive round to Cervina, unfortunately we arrived too late to catch the lift back over to Zermatt. Fortunatly we did find a very comfortable Hotel and a good Pizzaria which made everything except Pizza.

Day 6. It was raining hard. I jumped out of bed and ran up to the lift station to check it was open. It was not. Too windy. We spent breakfast working out how to get back to Zermatt. Then we learnt the bottom lift was open. We could use it then walk [a very long way] Luckly the wind monetarily dropped and the very kind Italian lift operator ran a cabin for us and we managed to get to the top of the ridge where we made a dash for Switzerland.