Bernese Oberland Week

~ Saturday 15th August 2009

5 days in the Bernese Oberland, 2 huts, 3 peaks and an adventure - the "Oberland Odyssey" lived up to expectations!

We walked up to the Konkordia hut from the Fiesch lifts. Impressive scenery on the Aletch glacier, and looming black clouds forcing the pace - we arrived just before the downpour.

Racing the clouds up the A;etsch glacier

Tuesday brought perfect weather for an ascent of the Grunegghorn. Stunning views and a wave to friends attempting the Eiger (they didn't see us)

Descending the Grunegghorn summit ridge

Wednesday we traversed the Wyssnollen to the Finsteraarhorn hut. This small peak has good climbing on the snow face and ridge above the Grunhornlucke, and an easy scenic descent to the Fiescher glacier

Dawn at Grunhornlucke

Thursday's plan was the Finsteraarhorn - the highest peak in the Bernese Oberland. It's a long climb on steep snow, follwed by a dramatic mixed ridge with stunning exposure above the 1000m east face - no pushover at PD.

Finsteraarhorn summit, Eiger behind

After a second night in the excellent Finsteraarhorn hut, all that remained was to walk back out to civilisation and a well earned bath. Instead of retracing our steps, we boldly chose to go the direct route down the Fiescher glacier. Descibed in the Martin Moran 4000m guidebook as "a fine way to complete an expedition in the Oberland", we were prepared for a "full day" - and we got one!

At first everything went very well, with fast progress down the dry Fiescher glacier. Some tricky ground leaving the ice took us to a waymarked path.

Climbing off the glacier

More fast progress, following new paint marks, new ladders, new cables - had the route been completely re-equiped?

No! Despite careful searching for the Via ferrata ladders, we found ourselves stuck in the "crevassed bend" Retracing steps up the glacier, we finally spotted the cables...and the place where the ladders used to be...oh dear. 40m of loose UK Severe climbing lead up to new equipment on the via ferrata. New, cemented bolts, steps and pig tails.

Via ferrata above the glacier

Then came 500m of alarmingly steep grass, and a chain leading down to where the glacier used to be. Now, there's 50m of unstable moraine. We lowered and abseiled down. Climbing up would be unpleasant and dangerous.

We came down there! Nice.

Surely we were nearly there? More rubble glacier took us to the foot of the climb up to the path - a tottering pile of unstable blocks, which looked too dangerous to attempt. We battled on down the glacier looking for an escape until a chance meeting with an odd man, the first person we had met all day. He told us about a bridge and a path just a little further on. Phew! Soon, we were walking through the hamlet of Titter (which raised barely a smile from a tired team)

So, all's well that ends well. However, this route must have changed significantly since guidebook publication. In current state, it can't be recommended as a descent, even less as an approach to the hut.

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