Saturday, July 30, 2011

SMG Alps 2011 Post #11 Martigny

With yet another grim forecast, tired legs, and only a couple of days left in our trip we decided to get to lower elevation and the possibility of some rock climbing.  We drove from Sass Grund to Martigny.  Martigny is a French speaking part of Switzerland and riddled with culture and history.  From Roman ruins to a museum dedicated to St. Bernhard dogs, the city is diverse to say the least.  After checking into the hotel we drove to some single pitch climbing right off the road.  Despite the sprinkles or rain we were able to climb 5 fun pitches before calling it a day.  It rained all night and the next morning we weren’t sure we would be able to find dry rock.  After a quick stop to get Tony and Mich their train tickets for the next day we drove to the trailhead.  The approach drive included some of the narrowest and steepest roads yet.  At one point Bastien told me, “Narrow and steep coming up, keep going!”.  The road went up to the left and through two buildings on what seemed to be an impossibly steep road.  After some tire spinning and clutch smoking I was able to get up the road.  This brought us to the trailhead and a 45min descent to the start of the climb.  If felt like we were in the jungle as we descended through dense vegetation, creeks, and waterfalls.  The trail eventually led us to the start of our climb, a five pitch 6a+ translated to Marvelous Not.  The climb was sustained and interesting the entire way.  We had great views of the valley and finished the last pitch as the rain began to start yet again.  We drove back to the hotel and said thanks and goodbye to Bastien.  What I trip!  Thanks to Tony and Mich for being so flexable and to Bastien for all the local logistics.  We didn’t stick to our original itinerary but we made some damn good lemonade out of the lemons the weather gave us.  
Sass Grund

Single Pitch Climbing

The multi pitch venue.

On the approach.

Tony starting up Pitch 2.

Mitch jamming his way up the corner on Pitch 2.

Mich with a great view of the valley behind.

My Evolv chalk bag with Mich in the background.

Tony starting up Pitch 5.

Mich on the last pitch.

Back to the car.

The Roman Colosseum in Martigny.

The Saint Bernard Museum.

And, we're done! Whew.

SMG Alps 2011 Post#10 (Nadelgrat)

 Yet another 3am start found us winding our way up the moraine in the dark following the reflector trail.  We got on the glacier and wound above the huge icefall to the couloir leading to the first col of the day.  Another beautiful sunrise greeted us we saw the objectives ahead of us.  The couloir offered some ice, snow and rock climbing on our way to the summit of Dirruhorn (4035m).  We climbed back down the ridge to the col and continued on steep snow and mixed climbing to our second peak of the day Hoberghorn (4218m).  From there a steep mixed ridge let us to our third summit of the day Stedknadelhorn (4241m).  With views of the Matterhorn, Dom and the grand Alps we were in awe.  Another knife-edge snow ridge led us to a steep traverse under the north face of the Nadelhorn.  When we reached the ridge we decided we were done for the day and descended to the Windjoch (wind col).  We dropped down the other side of the Windjoch in the clouds and descended to the Mischabel hut.  When all was said and done we had climbed three 4000m peaks using all our climbing skills along the way.  Considering the grim weather in other places we had a fantastic day in the hills.  After finding out that we needed a 3:30am start the next day we hit the sack for some well-deserved rest.  The next morning found us tired but in good spirits as we climbed back up to the Windjoch.  We retraced out steps up the steep ridge of the Nadelhorn (4327m) and continued to the summit with some fun mixed snow, ice, and rock climbing. We retraced out steps back down to the Windjoch and then climbed more steep snow to the summit of the Ulrichshorn (3925).  Then began the long decent back to the Bodier hut and a great hot lunch.  The weather was threatening again as we made our way back to the cars.  After just three days we had packed 5 summits, over 10,000 feet of climbing and descending, and two different huts into our weather window.  
The reflector line.


Beautiful Morning.

Let the climbing begin.

Summit of Deruhorn.

Looking over at Hoberhorn and Stecknaldelhorn.

Great views of the Matterhorn.

Fun Climbing.

The ridge on the way up to Hoberhorn.

Tony working the mixed climbing.

Number 2 for the day, the summit of Hoberhorn.

The ridge to Stecknadelhorn.

On the ridge.

Tony Climbing in the steeps.

Summit of Stecknadelhorn, number 3 for the day.

Looking at Nadelhorn.

Heading to the hut in the clouds.

Tired Tony!

The next morning heading to the Windjoch.

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Summit of the Nadelhorn.

Looking down the ridge.

Looking over at Dom.

Tony on the Ridge.

Looking back at Deruthorn and Hoberhorn.

Looking back at the Nadelhorn.

Back at the Bodier hut.

A nice view when we got back to the car.

SMG Alps 2011 Post #9 ("Rest Day")

Our “rest” day found us heading to the via ferrata (iron road) in Pontresina.  After some amazing exposure and fun climbing we took a rest break on the bench at the half waypoint. More fun led us to the top and the restaurant for some treats.  We stuffed ourselves and then rode the lift back to town.  The next day we drove from Pontresina to Greindelwald only to find that they had just received 50cm of new snow.  The routes we had in mind were out of shape due to avalanche conditions and new snow on rock.  We juggled our options: Italy (forecast for rain), Mediterranean (single pitch rock climbing), Zermatt (less new snow).  We decided on Zermatt to stay with the alpine theme and took off from Grindelwald the next morning.  The drive found us winding around on the narrow twisting roads of Switzerland on our way to the train.  We drove our cars right onto the train, which then took us through a long tunnel and to better weather in Visp.  We drove toward Zermatt and then up a crazy narrow winding road to the trailhead for the Bodier hut.  A beautiful four hour hike found us at the small and quaint Bodier hut.
On the approach to the Via Ferrata.

Tony enjoying the iron road.


Rest break. Ha!

Mich working the spider web.

Too bad the views weren't so good.

The restaurant at the top. MMMM.  
The nice weather in Grindelwald.

Loads of new snow on the Eiger.

Packing up the cars.

Riding the train with the cars.

Starting the approach to the Bodier hut.

On the approach with the Glacier in the background.

The Bodier hut on the ridge.

Looking down at the bridge off the glacier.

Some local wildlife.

The Bodier Hut.