28 August 2004

Swiss Alps

I joined a group on the ‘Swiss 4000'ers - an intermediate level alpine mountaineering course run by Jagged Globe Mountaineering in August 2004. 

Guide books : Valais Alps East (Alpine Club) and The Alpine 4000m Peaks by the Classic Routes (Richard Goedeke)

Guides: team led by Nick Banks. Other guides: Jamie Holding, Kenton Cool, John Falkiner and Yvan Bender.

Jagged Globe's Swiss 4000ers Course members, August 2004
The course was attended by Sir Ranulph Fiennes as part of his build up to Mount Everest in 2005.


Day 1 

Assemble in Saas Grund.

Day 2 

Mountain walk to the Brittania Hut 3030m for acclimatisation. A two hour walk from the Plattjen lift at 2570m and descent across the Chessjen Glacier to the Felskinn lift.

Glacier scenery seen from the Brittania Hut
View down to Saas Almagell from above the Brittania Hut
Day 3 

Team assembles and ascends to the Brittania Hut with overnight stay.

Hohlaubgrat route to Allalinhorn and the Brittania Hut
Day 4 

Ascent of the Allalinhorn 4027m by the Hohlaubgrat route (PD) and descent by the Ordinary Route (F). Note that the Alpine Club guide rates the ascent as AD due to the 30m rock step just below the summit. Ascent 1060m, descent to the Mittel Allalin (‘Alpine Metro’) 590m.

Early start for the Allalinhorn ascent
On the Hohlaubgrat route

Kenton Cool's team on the Hohlaubgrat. Kenton is now one of the most prodigious
mountaineers of this generation and has summited Everest 9 times.
Dawn breaks over the Swiss Alps
Alpenglow on the Allalinhorn
Steep ice on the Hohlaubgrat
Mischabel group from the Hohlaubgrat
View to the Strahlhorn from Hohlaubgrat
View down the Allalin Glacier from the Hohlaubgrat
Final section of the Hohlaubgrat route to the Allalinhorn summit
Group led by guide Yvan Bender reach the final rock section

On the rock section of the Hohlaubgrat route on the Allalinhorn


Team summit shots - Allalinhorn 4027m
Matterhorn from Allalinhorn
Strahlhorn from the summit
Summit ridge on the Allalinhorn
Descent from the Allalinhorn

Huge crevasses passed on the descent

Allalinhorn from the Mittel Allalin lift
Day 5 

Lift to Kreuzboden 2397m from Saas Grund, then short climb to the Weissmies huts at 2726m. Afternoon spent on ropework, crevasse rescue techniques, etc.

Climbing with prussiks near Weissmies hut
Day 6

Ascent of Weissmies 4023m via the Hohsaashaus (3098m), then on to the Trift Glacier to West summit (p3820m) then to summit via West Ridge (PD). Planned descent to the Almageller Hut via the South East Ridge aborted due to deteriorating weather conditions from the Italian side. Reversed route to descend. Ascent ~900m, descent same.

Heading for the Weissmies summit...hard work!
Saas Fee from the Weissmies ridge
Lower summit on S.W. ridge of Weissmies

Weissmies, south west ridge

Final section of Weissmies West Ridge
On the summit of Weissmies 4023m

Ran Fiennes on the summit of Weissmies. Ran has since climbed the North Face
of the Eiger and summited Everest with guide Kenton Cool
Yvan Bender and Team on Weissmies summit
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, or 'Ran' to his mates...
Starting the descent 
Descending the Trift Glacier to the Weissmies 

Safely down from the Weissmies
Weissmies and the Trift Glacier
Ran Fiennes and Kenton Cool (first and second left)
Day 7

Climb to Mischabel Hut 3329m from the Hannigalpe lift. Ascent involves scrambling and some steeper rock sections aided by wire cables and one ladder.

Ascending to the Mischabel hut
Ran Fiennes on the ridge to the Mischabel hut 3330m
Fletschorn, Lagginhorn and Weissmies from Mischabel hut
Allalinhorn from the Mischabel hut 3330m
Day 8 

Ascent of Nadelhorn 4327m aborted due to bad weather. Descend to Saas Fee. Afternoon walk to Saas Almagell.

What the Nadelhorn (4327m) would have looked like in clear weather!
Waterfall above Saas Almagell
End of course drinks, Colin with Jen Larsen (third left) who summited Everest in 2011
The Haute Route team meets up again in Saas Grund