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Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Rimpfischorn/Alphubel

~ Saturday 17th September 2011

 Both the Rimpfischorn and Alphubel are popular peaks in the summer, but late season the area is deserted - there were only 8 people for breakfast in the Tasch hut yesterday, and 7 this morning.

The Rimpfischorn is a long way from anywhere, but it's a spectacular glacier trip with an airy finish.

Alphubel is also a long way and was a bit of a race against bad weather, but we had the top to ourselves and made it back to the hut dry. 

Gran Paradiso North Face

~ Wednesday 14th September 2011

 The beautiful Chabod hut has an excellent webcam which has been showing a very white North West face of the Gran Paradiso for a few days now despite some warm weather - a promising sign that it's actually well covered and not just a dusting. From close up the face still looked good...

Reaching the bergschrund from the hut takes longer than you'd think - a good 3 hours of moonlit moraine-stumbling and some huge crevasses. It was a relief when the first axe placement at the bergchrund was perfect...and the next...and the next. The whole face turned out to be covered in 5-10cm of squeaky snow-ice, 500m of first-time placements.

Radek can't believe how good the snow is...

The mini-Madonna has gone!

Breithorn Traverse

~ Sunday 11th September 2011

 Breithorn traverse today - the weather forecast was - correctly - for thunderstorms in the afternoon so we decided that wallet-bashing Zermatt experience was worth it. (The Klein Matterhorn lift gets you from 1600m to 3800m for a mere CHF98.-,  or 32p a metre)

Strangely the Breithorn was deserted. A team of 3 turned back early leaving just us on the traverse, and we had the summit to ourselves. 

And this solo adventurer made it safely to his tent on the Breithorn pass...

Lenzspitz-Nadelhorn

~ Saturday 10th September 2011

After a very dark,windy and cloudy night stumbling around the glacier we emerged - in improving weather - onto the very fine ENE Ridge of the Lenzspitz.

This has a reputation for being tricky if snowy, and it was! More reminiscent of the Northern corries than the Mischabel range.

Some trailbreaking later we reached the fine summit of the Lenzspitz. The Mischabel range is well known for it's AD ridges, and the summit of the Lenspitz is definitely only halfway there. "AD" here means "All Day"! The traverse to the Nadelhorn is on fine red rock - unfortunately heavily rimed and very time consuming. The sun had dried the south sides of the "several" gendarmes, but left the northern sides covered in 15cm of rime. 

A big thankyou to the Mischabel hut team for their excellent food and warm welcome (and very clean toilets)

"substantial and sustained weakening of the Swiss franc"

~ Wednesday 7th September 2011

 The best news this year for British alpinists and ski tourers? 

Mont Blanc de Cheilon

~ Wednesday 7th September 2011

Another traverse of Mont Blanc de Cheilon yesterday - we started up the normal route which went quite well, so we continued over the traverse, which went quite well...so we carried on over the Pigne to the Vignettes hut. (Best wishes to the Dutch pair following us who were rescued from the traverse - I hope you are both OK) The traverse is in good condition with a bit of snow, but we didn't need crampons. Compare the pics from earlier this season here and here

Team following us on the MBC normal route

Descending from the MBC summit

Passing the "horns"

Today's plan was the Eveque traverse. We set off from the Vignettes hut (which closes this Thursday) with a stunning sunrise and a very red sky. The Col de Chermontane is completely dry now, but the climb to the start of the route involves passing some huge crevasses. With strong winds, fast-building clouds and an iffy forecast we decided to call it a day, down-climbing the Bouquetins approach and walking out down the Arolla glacier - a scenic but long walk! (Reaching the SW ridge from the Bouquetins bivvy is still possible but now needs 10m of steepish rock climbing - we walked up here on snow in June)

Couronne de Bréona

~ Saturday 3rd September 2011

The Couronne de Bréona traverse makes a good day trip for unsettled weather - interesting climbing on an airy ridge but not too high. We traversed north-south and continued over the Clocher de Bréona, but you can go the other way too. 

High above the Moiry glacier

September Snow!

~ Thursday 1st September 2011

After a summer of reliable pessimism MeteoSuisse fooled us with what turned out to be a hugely optimistic forecast. We believed it and headed up to the lovely Mischabel hut. After an excellent meal and a comfortable night we woke to find heavy snow falling...not ideal. Setting off in the hope it was just a shower we ended up spending an hour at 3600m in the group shelter until we finally gave in and turned back, fresh snow making the planned ENE ridge of the Lenzspitz out of the question. 

 

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