So the crampons, the ice axe, the harness and all the equipment were already nervously jumping on the shelf... and everything needed to be ventilated and where are better conditions than on the border of Switzerland and Italy?
Mattmark, Saas Allmagel
Already some acclimatization on the way and the awesome mountains between Saas Fee and Ceppo Moreli. On the swiss side the challenging weather still with plenty of snow above 2500 meters, on the Italian side sun and peace and NO people. Admittedly, the Antigine bivouac is simply Instagram-able.
Suddenly you find yourself in a fairy tale valley. Sun, warmth, brooks, grazing animals and NO people.
Passo di Antrona, Saas Almagel
Great views and weather in the morning.
It didn't look optimal on the Swiss side, so we changed our plan and descended down the snow-covered slope to Italy.
Suddenly you find yourself in a fairy tale valley. Sun, warmth, brooks, grazing animals and NO people. An interesting passage through a 3 km tunnel between two valleys.
And since the weather was stable and there was still time, why not choose a bivouac 900 meters higher for acclimatization? The ascent to the saddle was suspiciously smooth. Great weather, majestic birds of prey hunting circling above us. Access to the Antronapass saddle was again through a lot of snow, but actually quite fine.
Passo di Antrona, Saas Almagel
As there was a lot of sloppy snow in the Antron saddle and above it, I chose to climb up to the Cresta bivouac on a rocky ridge, gradually Lenzspitze and Naderhorn started to emerge as twins, majestic Dom, Täschhorn, Alphübel, Alalin, Rimpfischhorn, Strahlhorn. Just the whole 4000 squadron above Saas Fee. In the bivouac was 1 person, a Dutch student acclimatizing for 4000 ascents - so at least we chatted. The bivouac was amazingly situated, the sunset was luxurious. We were just studying the Jazzihorn side passage, which I want to do tomorrow; it's normally a red marked path, no warning that it's for experienced people or anything.
"That snow slope is impossible to traverse"
"There's probably some trick we can't see from here... or there's a belay"
"Sure, otherwise it wouldn't be a marked hiking trail."
The night sky was flawless. And the morning glow amazing. But the clouds were lifting from the valley and the wind started to blow. I was descending to the saddle on the ridge and, already in the clouds and wind, I started to climb towards Jazzihorn.
The road was good, the markings were great. Then a bit of exposed airy passage... fortunately belayed - just a rope about 3 meters below the snow... So 45 degree slope, snowed in and the route about 100 meters over it.
Luckily the snow was soft. Okay. Turn off the brain. It's just the here and now. Nothing else. No slope. Secure with sticks. Step. And again. Concentrate your brain on that one activity. It's working. Yay. Watch out. Don't lose focus. Step. Secure. Step. 100 meters long... Then it's saddle and a great feeling. A comfortable descent through snow, fog and blizzard.
At the end of the day, your boots are supposed to be wet, your feet ruined, your back aching, but with a smile on cracked lips. And eyes shining. Carpe diem.
So the necessary opening photo with Matterhorn and hopefully the weather will calm down.
Rifugio Teodulo 3,317m
The conditions for a summer vacation are great.
Klein Matterhorn, Zermatt
The sun is shining, simply, great weather for a summer holiday!
So it didn't quite work out with Breithorns. BUT, in
quite decent conditions we crossed the broken glacier Great Verra and before
the afternoon hell announced by the weather forecast, we reached the superbly
situated D'Ayas hut.
I just wonder in vain what is the difference between skiing here in winter and climbing here with campons in summer. The conditions are just similar.
Castor – 4,223m
I was a little disappointed yesterday that we didn't make Breithorns. What happened at 4 pm quickly turned all the disappointment around - continuous lightning strikes all around the hut, gales, white darkness, intense snowfall. We really wouldn't want to walk through a glacier in that bad weather. It was blowing all night and snowing heavily,
30 cm of new powder snow.
We strategized in the morning and slept a bit later, so that the "wolves" would hit our trail before us. And, indeed, in the morning - no wind, azure, the sun began to illuminate the beauty around us.
We were climbing the fields of glacier towards Castor, enjoying the mighty Matterhorn and Mt. Blanc. The icy snow wall of Castor made me a bit physically floored, climbing into the saddle with an ice axe and crampons was awesome.
Then the familiar summit ridge. Finally it was that summer holiday in Italy - azure blue, the Monte Rosa massif, the massive walls of Liskamm, the glaciers, the complete lack of wind - that moment when everything becomes perfect at one place - your calves and your back suddenly aren't aching and euphoria overwhelms you - YES!
Then the awesome descent down the glacier to the awesome hut... pasta buena... Birra. Perfect day.
Capanna Giovanni Gnifetti
In the evening it was cloudy and a bit breezy at the
cottage, but the forecast for today remained promising.
Wake-up call at 4:20, already at 3:45 the whole hut was buzzing like bees in a hive!
So after 4 to pack and after 5 to go. We chose a reasonable pace, but still our strategy was clear - to get to the wall of Naso del Liskamm as soon as possible, so as not to be held back and threaten other teams.
But without stopping? Well, we made it. 2 lengths of rope in the stone ridge, 2 lengths of rope in the ice secured with corkscrews and then a bit more and:
#1 Naso del Liskamm 4272m
Great weather and conditions, beautiful views. We continue descending quite quickly and we are already first on the plateau at the bottom!
Physically, I'm not quite there today, but I'm fighting. A long, long climb up the plateau with incredible views of Liskamm and the whole Monte Rosa massif. We go around the Ludwigshöhe from the left and we are already under its northern slightly icy wall. Our guide climbs the wall first to give us a belay; as we get a bit confused and I tear my climbing pants but fortunately my calf remains mostly untouched. A great climb to the highest point today.
#2 Ludwigshöhe 4344m
The way down is pretty good and soon we are standing below Corno Nero. The Madonna statue glitters on the sharp peak. The sharp north slope is all ice. Now what?
Before we can think, our guide is driving his ice axe and the front tips of his crampons into the wall. And, now we're axing and cramponing, the ice's holding up great.
A little more airy rock climbing and we're at the Madonna.
#3 Corno Nero 4322m
Getting up was not easy. What now? It's perpendicular down. So let's just rappel.
Well, we'll catch up on the way.
#4 Balmerhorn 4167m
And continue down towards the hut. It's physically more than enough by now. Of course - it's more a matter of willpower to fight our way up.
#5 Pyramide Vincent 4215m
And then only 600 meters of descent down the glacier to Rifugio Gnifetti. Frankly, I just arrange the essentials and roll into bed. Today was a massacre. But a WONDERFUL massacre (I just couldn't take enough photos at the pace ;).
Thanks Monte Rosa for the amazing days of “summer” climbing!
There was a thunderstorm last night and it snowed about 10 cm of new powder.
At the ladder connecting the hut and the glacier, a queue like on Everes caused a delay of 25 minutes. But walking in the strudel was obviously not our style. At a constant pace we passed one team after another and did not stop even in the saddle.
We had a clear track up ahead and arrived safely, though pretty much frozen, at the Signalkuppe 4559m.
And had a pizza and a super cappucino at the highest hut in the Alps - Margherita. This was very good for us, we almost ran out on Zummsteinspitze 4562m. Well, the top still a bit with an axe. Okay, it was also a bit windy.
Due to the descent we had ahead of us and the fresh snow, we descended directly to Monte Rosa Hütte along the beautiful Grenzgletscher.
Here we had a traditional beer and in great weather we went on. Even a bath in the Gornersee, then a glacier crossing, and the train to Zermatt, also with the traditional view of the Matterhorn.
12 hours, 1800 meters up, 2500 meters down, about 25 km in one day. Just amazing!!!