Alps - July 7th-24th 2006

The west side of the Saastal Valley: Taschorn, Dom, Lenzspitze & Nadelhorn

Friday 7th: Dave Collier and I were the first to arrive at the Kapellenweg campsite in Saas Grund and soon had our tents set up in a nice open area with a bit of shade. The others arrived over the next day or so.

Relaxing in the campsite

Saturday 8th: Wasting no time we walked up to the Almageller hut - Dave was keen to do the traverse of the Dri Hornli.

The Almageller Hut (2894m) with the Dri Hornli (3209m) close behind

Sunday 9th: An early start to do the Sonnighorn via the Sonniggrat, descending by the 'normal' route.

Mittelruck (3393m), Sonnigpass (3147m), Sonnighorn (3847m) & the Sonnigrat ridge

Monday 10th: Another early start saw us heading up over the Weissmies by the SSE Ridge.
                        300m from the summit we met a dog who required assistance up a couple of rock steps.

The Weissmies from the Sonnighorn

So at the top of the mountain we made a rope of 3 to descend the SW Ridge/NW Flank.
A temporary home was found for the dog at the telepherique halfway station.

... waiting patiently for these slow humans ...

Tuesday 11th: Our "rest day" in the campsite was very hot and to cool down we visited the nearby crag in the gorge five minutes away. There is a very cool breeze in the gorge but you soon warm up!

Ed got wet feet belaying...                                                              A long reach for Dave...

Wednesday 12th: Raring to go we took an early telepherique up to the top station, walked down to the Weissmies hut, booked in, dumped our excess gear and then headed over to find the South Rib route of the Jegihorn. Failing to locate it at first we decided to do a harder variant start which we found quite exciting in the big boots!.

The Jegihorn (3206m)

We had lunch at the summit and after chatting to some people who had come up the via ferrata we decided to descend it rather than taking the path down.

The epic via ferrata!

Going down this via ferrata by way of the steep wall/rope "ladder"/cable bridge was really quite challenging! It's interesting enough going in the other direction

Fletschorn 3993m

Thursday 13th: An early start to climb the Fletschorn by the SW Ridge, descending via NW Ridge/West Flank.
A long approach through fairly difficult terrain and as we neared the summit the weather began to close in and it began to snow.
Our descent through soft snow over a heavily crevassed glacier (with poised seracs) was made worse when the surface gave way beneath me and I damaged my leg which made it a painfully (sic) slow descent...
(Of course lower down the snow was falling as rain so we got back to the hut absolutely soaked.)
With me unable to walk properly we abandoned our plan to stay up to do the Lagginhorn 'Round' the next day and headed down to the campsite.

Friday 14th & Saturday 15th A couple of easy "rest" days to try and get my leg back in shape... Lots of resting with gentle massage and the "magic cream", a bit of easy cragging and a few easy walks into Saas Grund... beautiful weather...


Sunday 16th:  Deciding to test out the state of my leg we took the telepherique up to the halfway station and walked up gently to the Weissmies hut. Four others of the group were going up to do the 'normal' route up the Lagginhorn and I was hoping I would be fit enough to manage it too.

The Fletschorn (3993m) & the Lagginhorn (4010m)

Monday 17th: An early start and we all headed up the Lagginhorn via the WSW Ridge.
                        A lovely route with great views all round.

The Weissmies from the summit of the Lagginhorn

Tuesday 18th: With everyone due back in the campsite we took another rest day (with a bit of climbing on the local crag) and made plans to go up to the Mischabel hut to do the Nadelhorn and perhaps the Lenzspitze.

Heading up to the Mischabel hut

Wednesday 19th: Eleven of us headed up to the Michabel Hut at 3335m - a very long ascent in the heat of the day with about 1500' of brand new via ferrata! Just my luck that it was my turn to carry our rope!

   The path up to the Mischabel hut turns into a via ferrata.....        and gets very steep!

Dave and I had actually decided to do the challenging Lenzspitze-Nadelhorn traverse but my leg had been giving me a lot of grief on the way up and I also felt I was having a very 'bad day' because I was so utterly wiped out by the ascent to the hut ... In fact when I reached it I just collapsed in a heap for well over half an hour feeling really ill and just trying to get my breath! ~ I felt so bad that I thought it would be prudent to join the others to just do the Nadelhorn, if I was able to!   

(NB. Six years later in 2012 I recognised the symptoms in hindsight and realised that was very probably my first angina 'heart attack'...)

The ENE ridge of the Lenzspitze

Thursday 20th: However waking at 2am I felt fit enough and was raring to go so we reverted to plan "A" and set off along the ENE Ridge to the summit of the Lenzspitze making good time with just a friendly guide and his two clients in front of us.

Looking back down the ENE ridge from the Lenzspitze summit

Great views all round from the summit and we were first away along the ridge leading to the Nadelhorn.

The connecting ridge to the Nadelhorn

At the Nadelhorn summit we met up with Dick, Wardie and David (GC)

Summit of the Nadelhorn 4327m

A few photos and then we headed down the NE Ridge where we caught up with Ed, Martyn and Adrian. Then back to the hut and finally the campsite.

descending the NE ridge of the Nadelhorn

Friday 21st: We had a final "rest day" and visited the nearby crag again!

Everyone was planning to leave the next day, most to return home, some to visit Bondo
while Dave and I decided to attempt the traverse the Matterhorn from Italy.

The Matterhorn from the Nadelhorn summit

Saturday 22nd: We all broke camp and Dave & I parked up at a handy garage in Tasch which taxied us into Zermatt. We caught the telepherique up to the Kleine Matterhorn and walked across the glacier/snowfield/piste (1hr) to the Guides Hut at Testa Griggia. A quick coffee and then the telepherique down to Breuil where we checked in at the Hotel Joli for the night.


The Tete du Lion & the Matterhorn from the Plan Maison telepherique mid-station in Italy

Sunday 23rd: First telepherique back up to Plan Maison and then a pleasant walk around to the Abruzzi (Rionde) hut in about an hour, then up to the Carrel hut in good time.

The way up from Breuil

Monday 24th: We were up early at 3am and the 2nd party away over the Italian Ridge. The route finding wasn't obvious in a few places and a guide and his client stormed past us in the dark quite early on. Finally we reached the summit and after a short lunch made our way carefully down the Hornli Ridge to Zermatt.

The Italian Ridge from the Col du Lion

Looking back up the Hornli Ridge from near the hut

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