Author Archives: Hans Solmssen

About Hans Solmssen

I am a professional mountain guide living in Verbier, Switzerland. I grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii after my father moved to Hawaii to teach at Hawaii Preparatory Academy. He created a horse program at this high school, located in the middle of the largest, privately owned cattle ranch in the US. Horses were a major part of my life, even playing polo for a few years. I moved to northern Vermont to go to school, and discovered skiing. Little did I know, this would become my life's passion: guiding friends and clients over the mountains around the world on skis and foot. I moved to Verbier, Switzerland in 1982, and entered the Swiss guide's program in '88. I received my UIAGM "pin" 3 years later in 1991. I have two kids, Anya and Kevin.

Grindelwald Days- Eiger Monch Engelhorner

Vadim was back again to climb in these Alps and we decided to base ourselves in Grindelwald. What an exceptional valley for climbers! From the magically silent cliffs of Hintisberg and the Engelhorner, to the ice palace at the Jungfraujoch, and the wild jaunt ascending to the Mittellegi Hut, this valley has everything for the ambitious mountaineer (and hill walker and tourist!). We were hoping to climb the Schreckhorn, Monch, and Eiger, but of course the weather determined our program.

We started with a few climbs in the surrounding valleys, then worked our way up to the heights. Cow bells echoing off the high walls surrounding Hintisberg sounded the way towards the Eiger. The changeable weather then chased us to the Mediterranean Sea and a couple more limestone cliffs.

Have a look at the photos and let me know when you are coming! Autumn air is creeping into the weather, and it looks like climbing possibilities shall be with us for a good number of weeks still.

La Ruinette 3875 PD, II

Frank and I climbed the Ruinette in perfect conditions. A full moon the evening before lit the Chanrion lakes as if it were broad daylight. The forecasted temperature at 4000 meters was just under 0 degrees, so it was not cold. In fact, the occasional moderate breeze from the East made the temperature perfect for this fine alpine ascent.

Located in the upper Val du Bagnes, La Ruinette is the broad peak visible from the road to Verbier from Le Chable. It’s a deliciously, varied climb of 1300 meters from Chanrion, starting with a nice hike to the Col de Lire Rose. With some delightful scrambling and a few fine moves on nice gneiss, one arrives on the upper snow field. Another couple hundred meters of elevation gets you onto the final summit ridge to the top.

La Ruinette is the perfect peak for someone looking for a fine day out with stunning views and no major obstacles. And so close to home!

Grimsel Rock Climbing

We spent a few days smearing our way up a few of the famous Grimsel slabs. Located between Meiringen and the Grimsel Pass, this little valley of Haslital is well known for its plethora of technical, multipitch rock climbing. Though our technique was certainly improving after more than 30 pitches on these smooth slabs, my toes were killing me! This area is smack dab in the middle of other world class climbing areas such as Graue Wand and Winterstock above the Furka pass, the Salbit valley below Andermatt, and the Englhorner range above Meiringen.

These climbs are part of the multipitch rock climbing trips I organize. Have a look at some of the places we can visit together.

Terrasse a Choucas

Andy and I climbed the Terrasse a Choucas above La Fouly yesterday. The heat has finally arrived in these Alps for the first time this “summer”, making this north facing, rock climbing route at 2000 meters, an ideal choice. Olivier and Andrea Roduit, Charlie Fellay and Jean-Yves Michelod put this route up a few years ago in the Val Ferret. The climbing is varied, with the more difficult moves on slab/friction. 10 rappels gets one quickly back down to the base and into La Fouly for cold beer.
The forecast calls for sunny days with afternoon thunder showers probable for the next 5 days. The high peaks are still in great shape for ski mountaineering, and as the snows from last week’s fall quickly melt, the pure rock routes will quickly come into shape.
Summer Time!