For the last two days of the four days Brian and I had mountaineering together (as part of a Martin Moran Mountaineering week), we visited the Almageller Hutte which is located above Saas Almagell (near Saas Grund).
We walked in on Tuesday (the bad weather day) to put us in place for the ascent of one of the many excellent peaks in this area. During the day and the night around 30 centimetres of snow fell at hut level (2894m) resulting in challenging conditions on Wednesday. However, we still completed the ascent of the Mittelruck (3363m) which is accessed from the Sonnigpass.
At this time of year, the ridge from the Sonnigpass would normally be a rock scramble. At the moment however, it is a long mixed ridge. The climbing is still very good in this condition but extra time should be allowed by parties aiming to complete the route.
Again this week I have been based out of Evolene with Martin Moran Mountaineering (www.moran-mountain.co.uk).
Following an Ecole de Glace session on the Glacier Ferpecle on Sunday, Mark, Monica and I had a hut trip from Monday to Tuesday.
On the way to the Cabane des DIx above Arolla on Monday we climbed the Pointe du Pas de Chevres (2991m) before returning to the Pas de Chevres and traversing the Col de Riedmatten. The ladders on the Pas de Chevres remain closed and the Col de Riedmatten is the only option.
The weather on Tuesday was very poor. In full Scottish winter conditions we did however manage to climb La Luette (3548m) before returning to the valley. We climbed the ridge route rather than the glacial route as this was a safer option in the conditions we had.
Monica joined another team for the rest of the week while Mark and I headed to the Saas Valley. On Wednesday we made the ascent to the Mischabel Hutte before climbing the Ulrischhorn (3925m) on Thursday morning during a break in the weather. The Ulrischhorn was in excellent condition. After returning to the valley we completed the approach to the Weissmieshutte to overnight.
Today we completed the Sudkante on the Jegihorn (3206m). Despite all the recent bad weather the rock was perfectly dry.
Another great week in the Alps completed. A short video on the climbnow facebook page shows the current conditions on the Lenspitze and the Nadelhorn.
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.
For the past three days I have been off piste skiing and ski touring in the Saas Fee and Saas Grund areas of Switzerland. On Saturday, 50 cm of snow fell which allowed us some brilliant tree skiing at the Plattjen area. Yesterday, we toured to the Brittania Hut for lunch before enjoying the snow in the Saas Fee ski area. Today, we had brilliant conditions for the tour of the Lagginjoch (3499 metres).
There is a short video on the facebook page showing the excellent snow cover and conditions we have experienced over the last three days.
It has been an excellent summer in the Alps. In many areas this past winter and spring ten metres of snow fell. This has led to some fantastic conditions on the glaciers and the ridges of many regions.
It has been a busy summer for the ClimbNow team. Paul has been busy throughout North Wales teaching rock climbing and summer mountaineering skills. Martin has been doing similar work in many parts of Scotland and has spent some time climbing with me in the Alps. I have spent the summer guiding throughout the Alps during the months of June, July, August and September.
My summer began with a holiday in Les Aravis and the Chaine du Bargy with Rosie. From here, I drove to Les Ecrins and spent two brilliant weeks climbing in the best conditions I have seen in the massif for many years. Routes such as the Voie Originale on the Pic Coolidge were in good condition. Normally this route would be unsafe by late June.
After Les Ecrins, I had three weeks climbing in the Mont Blanc Massif, around Saas Fee and in the Val d’Herens. I had the opportunity to climb many interesting and beautiful mountains such as Alphubel, Mont Blanc and the Lagginhorn.
At this point in the season, I often find it useful to have a few days off. This year I returned to the UK for a few days and to attend a wedding before returning to the the peaks around Saas Grund and the three areas mentioned above.
Highlights from this period include; the South Ridge of the Lagginhorn, the traverse of Pigne d’Arolla and Mont Blanc de Cheilon, the traverse of Weissmies and Allalinhorn’s Holaubgrat.
The season continued with many fine summits in the Mont Blanc Massif and Gran Paradiso National Park before I returned to Les Ecrins for two more brilliant weeks of rock climbing and peak bagging.
The final week of my season was spent in the mountains above Saas Fee and Zermatt. Conditions were challenging but as always the mountains and the team I climbed with provided some amazing memories.
This season I have spent fifty seven days climbing and mountaineering, twenty four nights in sixteen different huts, have climbed thirty four alpine summits and eleven multi pitch climbs as well as many single pitch climbs and completed five Ecole de Glace sessions.
I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who has joined me on the many adventures this summer has provided and made it such a memorable season.
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.
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.