Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog


~ Tuesday 30th August 2011

The two 4000m peaks of the Saas Grund area make an excellent 2 day trip. We stayed at the Hohsaas "hut" - aptly described as "unsightly" in the guidebook but an ideal base for the Weismies and Lagginhorn, saving an hour's walk over the Weismies hut. With an early breakfast we were the only team stumbling through the boulders in the dark on both days.

Day 1 we climbed the Lagginhorn South Ridge, a long climb with the tricky bits at the top on the exposed summit ridge.

The top of the Lagginhorn south ridge Today - with the team reduced to 2 by blisters - we went back to the same col before turning right for the Weismies North Ridge. This time the tricky bits are in the first half, but the ridge goes on for 2km! The Weismies normal route gives a quick descent with the usual worrying dash through the seracs and crevasses...

Zinal Rothorn

~ Friday 26th August 2011

Gambling (again) on Meteosuisse pessimism we set off for the North Ridge of the Zinal Rothorn. The approach to the Grand Mountet hut is a long hot slog from Zinal but it's worth it - this has to be one of the best views in the Alps. The hut was quiet, food excellent and the staff as usual were very friendly and well informed on local conditions.

The North Ridge is in excellent condition with dry rock (crampons off from the shoulder) and good snow on the Arete du Blanc. The weather, despite producing some threatening clouds, stayed good for the day. Phew.

I was working with BMG guide Dave Kenyon, star of the back cover of Martin Moran's excellent 4000m peaks book. Here he is climbing the Rasoir...

Climbing the Rasoir

Descending the Bourrique

And Dave re-enacting the back cover shot on the Rasoir. Descending the Rasoir

Descending Arete du Blanc

l'Éveque traverse

~ Tuesday 23rd August 2011

Perfect conditions today on the Eveque traverse. The Col de chermontane is totally dry glacier and we only hit snow on the climb up to the start of the route. There are some big crevasses to avoid on the way!

Descent was fine, still snowy on the steep bit .


~ Saturday 20th August 2011

Off to the Bordier hut at the other end of the Mischabel range to climb the Nadelhorn via the "Nadelgrat". This was plan A, but as usual plan B turned out to be better. The glacier was poorly frozen and very crevassed and at 5am we were all going knee-deep, sometimes waist and armpit deep and occasionally deeper! With a distinctly uninspiring first view of the Dirruhorn couloir plus concerns about re-crossing the glacier late in the day we diverted to the Nadelhorn normal route. Other teams reported lots of stonefall and poor conditions in the couloir. We returned over the Ulrichshorn which gives great views of the Nadelhorn and Lenzspitz, as well as having a bench on top!

The Bordier hut deserves a special mention for selling the most expensive bottled water in the Valais - an eye-watering CHF17.- per bottle. Ouch.

I was working with aspirant guide James Thacker - here he is reaching the top of the Ullrichshorn.

Alphubel Rotgrat

~ Tuesday 16th August 2011

Good conditions today on the Alphubel Rotgrat - the west ridge. This is a great and direct line to the summit. A nice path starts from the hut and quickly leads to interesting and sustained scrambling with the occasional bits of Valais rubble. We descended the south ridge which is still quite snowy and offers a quick descent to the Tasch hut.

Matterhorn Hornli Ridge

~ Friday 12th August 2011

Back to the Matterhorn yesterday. Conditions haven't changed much since last week - still good although it's snowy and we put crampons on at the site of the old hut. We had a good ascent after a prompt start from the hut and with time to spare we traversed over to the Italian top. It was much busier on the descent than last week though - we had to negotiate teams of wobbly soloing Japanese and a large group of slow moving Spaniards plus the usual confusion at the Solvay hut on the way down!

Above the Solvay

Fixed ropes above the shoulder

The summit slopes

On top!

Swiss summit from the Italian summit

Amazingly for August the North face has been in good condition. Successful ascents on Wednesday and we saw 4 teams on the route on Thursday.

Spot the teams on the north face

Grand Cornier

~ Tuesday 9th August 2011

Excellent day today on the South Ridge of the Grand Cornier. This peak just fails to make the 4000m mark so is very quiet compared to it's neighbour the Dent Blanche. It's a sizeable haul up to the Bivvy hut - 1700m from Ferpecle. Worth it though - the site under the Dent Blanche north face is awesome and the hut is very cosy. The route starts straight from the hut and quickly becomes quite airy. Lots of up and down, great situations and although the ridge climbs only 500m from the col it packs in a lot of action!

Matterhorn Hornli Ridge

~ Friday 5th August 2011

 Success against the odds today on the Hornli ridge. The as-ever pessimistic Meteosuisse forecast showers in the morning and thunderstorms in the afternoon - not ideal. Luckily the morning was clear and we made fast progress with only about 30 people on the route. After a brief tustle at the start it all went very smoothly. Crampons on early at the old hut site so that slowed things down, but the rest was in good condition and the top slope is very good and snowy. With many nervous peaks around the ridge to check the incoming weather we made the top around 8.30, then made a quick descent to beat the rain...

As usual on photogenic routes I forgot the camera. 


~ Wednesday 3rd August 2011

The search for a comfortable hut with showers took us back to Moiry this week. It was Swiss National Day on Monday so the hut was busy, but we got space in the conference room (!) Luxury, lots of space and no snoring!

On the Moiry glacier

National Bonfire Day

On Monday we climbed the Pigne de la Lé while everyone else went up the Point de Mourti, and had the top to ourselves before heading up the beautiful Bouquetins ridge.

Climbing the Pigne de la Lé

Great views to Grand Mountet

Next day - 3 days in a row of perfect weather being unusual this year! - we climbed the Dent de Rosse, a long glacier approach leading to a short scramble on good rock and again, the summit to ourselves.

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