I have just spent the past week based out of Evolene with Martin Moran Mountaineering (www.moran-mountain.co.uk) climbing with Mountain Guide Graham Frost, Katya, Simon, John and Clinton.
The week began last Sunday with an Ecole de Glace session on the Glacier Ferpecle. This allowed us to cover lots of skills before making the ascent to the Cabane Bertol on Monday. Behind the Cabane is a large pinnacle of good rock which we climbed in the afternoon.
The weather was perfect on Tuesday and a good freeze overnight gave perfect conditions for our approach to the Aiguille de la Tsa (3668m). We climbed this brilliant pinnacle before descending using multi pitch abseil skills and returning to the valley. Two ropes are required for the descent. The rock was dry and warm.
With a perfect forecast for Thursday we made the ascent to the Cabane Vignettes on Wednesday. Following a very early breakfast we completed the traverse of the Pigne d’Arolla (3796m) and Mont Blanc de Cheilon (3870m) to the Cabane Dix. This gives a top class AD traverse which was in excellent condition. We returned to the valley via the Col de Reidmatten as the Pas de Chevre is currently closed.
Today, we travelled to Saas Grund and climbed Panorama on the Jegihorn (3206m). This gave a great 350 metre rock climb on excellent rock.
I am just down from a successful three days in the peaks above Saas Grund. On Sunday we walked into the Almageller Hut before traversing the Dri Horlini (3206m, AD). This is an excellent route on perfect rock. On the side of the Dri Horlini a large number of rock routes have been bolted. A full topo for the mountain can be purchased in the hut.
Yesterday we traversed the Weissmies (4017m) from the Almageller Hut to the Hohsaas Hut. I had not climbed this route before having normally climbed the Weissmies up and down from the Hohsaas Hut. However, I intend on going back and doing the route again as it is excellent due to a good variety of terrain. There is a nice rock ridge, snow arêtes and a steep glacial descent. The route was in perfect condition. It is worth noting though, that the descent is threatened by serac fall.
Today we climbed the Lagginhorn (4010m) from the Hohsaas Hut. Conditions have changed from my blog posting on Saturday. On Saturday I wore crampons above 3600m. Today they were needed above 3750m due to a reduction in the quantity of snow. As the quantity of snow decreases more ice will appear on the upper slopes and careful crampon technique will be required.
John, Harvey, Andy and I have been based out of the Hosaas Hut above Saas Grund the last couple of days. We drove early on Friday morning from Saint Gervais with the hope of good weather and the intention of climbing Weismies. There had been heavy snow overnight and at 3450 metres on the peak we retreated due to poor visibility and dangerous snow conditons. We did however have a great afternoon on the glacier practising, crevasse rescue, prusiking and ice climbing skills.
Today, we traversed the Lagginhorn (4010m). This very long ridge route is AD in standard and begins by climbing the South Ridge before traversing between point 3906m and the true summit and finishes by descending the normal route. The route is easiest when the rock is dry. At the moment, due to the recent poor weather, there is a lot of snow around and we climbed a large percentage of the route in crampons. These conditions did however, give us a brilliant mixed route and a great finale to the week.
For the past three days Matt and I have been in Switzerland. On Monday morning we drove from Saint Gervais to Saas Grund before using the Hosaas lift system to quickly gain height. This gave us access to the Sudgrat on the Jegihorn (3206m). The route is 350 metres long on excellent gneiss. We finished the route a couple of minutes before the hail arrived, perfect timing. Once in waterproofs we continued our day by ascending to the Hosaas Hut to overnight.
The next morning we climbed the normal route on the Lagginhorn (4010m). The route was in good condition with lots of firm snow. On the descent we pitched one rope length using an ice screw belay to safeguard the most steep and exposed traverse.
After a fast descent to the hut and a quick drink we continued our day by practising crevasse rescue on the Triftgletscher. Normally, at this time of year the glacier is fairly dry and the crevasses are obvious. However, due to the large amounts of snow this past winter the glacier is still very wet and great care is required when practising skills.
Following our descent to the valley we drove round to the Moiry Dam. Our aim for this morning was to traverse the Couronne de Breona but as the alarm went off at 4.40am we could still hear heavy rain. Following a long lie until 7am we walked up and onto the Glacier de Moiry. We then had a great day practising lots of essential skills; prusiking, prusiking past knots, hoist systems, ice climbing skills for steep ground and building ice climbing anchors. The glacier was dry making it a good venue for practising these skills.