Tag Archives: Alpine Climbing

Mont Dolent

We climbed this pretty summit on the Swiss, French and Italian border under a perfect blue sky. Though not technically difficult, fantastic views abound. We spent the night at the Fiorio bivouac to break the climb into a couple small chunks. It is a cute little hut, reminding me of what most of these alpine huts used to all be like. Take a cook stove, food and a couple of spoons to prepare your own food since this bivi is not guarded.

Matterhorn 4478- The Hornli Route

Catherine and I climbed the Hornli Route on the Matterhorn last week, taking advantage of the last good weather of the summer. As fall steps in, those light dustings of snow will begin to stick. But it’s not over yet!

We made it to the summit in a bit over 4 hours, proving how well acclimatized Catherine was. It was so nice that her brother Andrew was there at the same time. It is such a special peak, this one, evoking intense emotions after the colossal struggle to get to the summit. As the saying goes: No pain, no gain! And what a scene it is on this hill. The hut was full of guides and their clients. The sign read, “Breakfast at 4:30, depart for the summit at 4:49”! How’s that for precision? There were so many of us on the climb, but depending on where you were, you may have been alone or with others. Classic Matterhorn climbing!

The weather in the mountains this week has been mixed. It has really cooled off and the Bise was blowing. That made for a few really fine days of sailing on the lake!

Dent Blanche 4356m

Carla and I climbed the Dent Blanche in the Val d’Hérens yesterday under clear blue skies and a light SW breeze. This was Carla’s 2nd 4000er in 2 days! Bravo!

We climbed quickly to the hut in just over 4 hours Monday, and made the summit in just over 3 hours the next day. But it is still a long day, arriving back at the car at 3 that afternoon.

The climb is a real nice variety of tasks, involving crampon changes several times, as one goes from ice to rock. The route finding is real straight forward as it is getting very well worn. There is some very steep and exposed climbing on good rock, but all very well protected, with either new bolts or rock spurs. Though the climb is not very difficult, one needs good rope skills to make the climb safe. The views along the climb and at the top were phenomenal.

Ingrid, the hut warden, is an exceptionally nice women. I was so impressed with her easy going style, chatting nicely with most every one, even though she had a million and one things to do. A climb just to the hut itself is a worthy task!

Traversée des Drus

Vadim and I spent a few days in the Chamonix valley, climbing some classics, and traversing the iconic Drus. This long climb from the Charpoua Hut, goes up to the Flammes de Pierre, across the SE face of the Petit Dru, over the Grand Dru, then down a series of recent rappels to the Charpoua Glacier. We were lucky enough to have good weather, allowing us to do the climb on a warm and calm day. Checking out the Charpoua Glacier the evening before, we found a nice direct line through the seracs, even so late in the season. Traversing the ramp and climbing to Flames de Pierre in the dark unroped, got us to the ridge at daybreak, 2 hours from the hut. Finding the series of chimneys, sandy couloirs, and steep cracks for the next few hours became a fun game of choosing the most appealing line and the easiest way up! The infamous Z up the Grand Drus was not as difficult as expected, but the iced up chimney above was certainly quite a feat with the back pack getting stuck every few centimeters!

The line of rappels down from the East Ridge of the Grand Dru were quickly found, and provided a fine way to get off the peak. They lead to the little gorge which spits out all the debris of the East Face onto the Charpoua Glacier. Knowing this allows you to imagine where the next rappel station is, as they are placed in very logical places, allowing a climber protection from falling rocks as she pulls her ropes. We were lucky to not get any of our ropes stuck!!! (A real good guide book for this and other routes around the Mont Blanc is the Jean-Louis LAROCHE – Florence LELONG “Ascensions au pays du Mont-Blanc”)

We finished our trip with the classic Rébuffat route on the South Face of the Aiguille du Midi. What a contrast to the remote and quiet Charpoua Basin. There were people everywhere: literally crowds on the Arête des Cosmique, people cruising the Valley Blanche, and crowds of tourists gazing at us as we rapped down onto the Midi platform, though amazingly enough, we were alone on our route. A quick cable ride got us to the valley floor in under an hour. Talk about contrasts!