Thursday, July 10, 2008

I had a great week in Zermatt with Paul from New York. We started with a shake-down day on the Riffelhorn just to see where he was at. I hadn't climbed with Paul before, and was pleasantly surprised with both his skill level and good humor. We took a quick run up the Skyline route and down the normal route to practice some short-roping techniques and he did very well. The photo below is on our first summit of the day, very picturesque with the main event in the background.After the Skyline, we headed around to the South Face and climbed the nine (short) pitches of the Thermoteregg Couloir Route (French 4c). It was a beautiful day and the climbing was super-fun. Paul cruised all the pitches in approach shoes, and we had the popular climbing area all to ourselves. You can see him below climbing the classic dihedral first done in the 1940's!
Day's 2 and 3 were some fine rain in the valley, with high winds up high. After waiting, unsuccessfully, for the Kleine Matterhorn tram to open for an attempt on Pollux we opted to take in the Gorner Gorge Adventure instead. The next day the lift was open, but the weather was only good enough for tea in the buffet at 3800 meters with the rest of the local guides. Day 4 dawned clear, and we went up to climb the classic Half-Traverse of the Breithorn. We tagged along behind local guide Sam Anthamatten, who was kind enough to chop beautiful steps up the hard snow approach. Paul loved the climb, and he was looking in fine shape to give the Matterhorn a go. The photo below is leading up the top of the third rock step.
On July 9th we went up to the Hornlihutte, scoped the first hour of the route, and had a delicious pork chop and mashed potato dinner. The local guides were not yet guiding the route due to the recent snows covering much of the route. This definitely ramps up the difficulty of climbing the Matterhorn, and there were a number of recreational parties still trickling in at 1am as we slumbered in our bunks!

We awoke at 3:30am to still skies and warm temperatures. After a couple cups of coffee we were first out the door, followed closely by a couple friendly brits we had shared the dinner table with the night before. Conditions made it a little slower than usual, but we made it to the top in good form, the first team for the day. The first photo shows me leading up the Lower Moseley Slab with the Solvay hut at the top.
This photo is from the summit of the Matterhorn, where Paul proudly displays his local gym's t-shirt. It was absolutely perfect on top!
We made good time back down through softening snow, and had 5 minutes to spare on the last lift back to Zermatt!
Cheers! Clint