Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chamonix, Zermatt, and Grindelwald

Greetings from Grindelwald! I'm firing this post out from the Mountain Hostel in Grindelwald, Suisse. In a few minutes I'll jump on the train to Zurich and be headed back to the States. My future daughter has been waiting patiently for me to return, so I better get to it! Despite some rough weather and difficult conditions the last couple weeks, Dr. Forg and I managed to have a great 12 day trip in three of the main alpine centers in Europe.

We started off in Chamonix to 2 solid days of driving rain that left Mont Blanc covered in loads of fresh snow. With an avalanche catching parties the day before and more rain coming we opted to bail to Zermatt early. One more rainy day spent in the Gorner Gorge, and day 4 dawned clear. We did a couple routes on the Riffelhorn. The photo above is of the doc on the summit.
We then climbed Pollux the next day in fine weather. After that came the ultra-classic Half-Traverse of the Breithorn. Photo 2 shows Pat hydrating before heading to the third summit of the traverse. We went up to the Matterhorn the next day for some recon, and soon found too much fresh snow still covering most of the route.
So instead, the next day we bussed over to the Saas Valley and climbed the beautiful 15 pitch Panorama Route (5b or 5.8) on the SE face of the Jagihorn. Excellent climbing and a beautiful day. As we waited at the bus stop, I got a call informing me that the Mittellegi Hut on the Eiger would not be opening for our reservation to climb on the 22nd.

We still went to Grindelwald, and instead went to the Monch Hut and climbed the pleasant SE Ridge to the summit. A hearty lunch, and we were ready to try the Jungfrau the next day. But once again the mountains had different ideas. We awoke to a stiff wind, biting snow, and bad visibility. Above you can see the weather still enveloping the Eiger in the afternoon. We went back doen the Jungfraubahn to Grindelwald and enjoyed a nice hike below the Schwarzhorn instead. This beautiful landscape is just below the towering North Face of Wetterhorn and inhabitated by many lazy and friendly alpine cows.More to come from Colorado! Cheers, Clint