4 August 2019, Eiger Matterhorn, Dufour, Mont Blanc – Early August Alpine Mountaineering Conditions

4 August, Eiger Traverse & Mission Impossible Complete!

We are really proud of our Canadian guest Jon and our Italian Guide Alberto, who, in traversing the Eiger today completed the Mission Impossible by climbing Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and Eiger…in just 4 days!  A seriously  impressive effort making the most of the prevailing weather and conditions before the next storm cycle arrives later this week.   This not only requires great fitness & good technical mountaineering skills but clearly lots of endurance and enthusiasm on the way, as well as good ‘on the hoof’ logistical skills from Alberto’s mobile office!

Jon on the slabby limestone on the traverse of the Eiger. Photo Alberto di Guili

Having climbed the Matterhorn yesterday, and Mont Blanc on Thursday, see reports below, Jon & Alberto travelled to Grindlewald last night and ascended the Jungfraujoch railway this morning before making the approach to the Mittellegi Hut for morning coffee this morning.   They then enjoyed good conditions and solitude on the Mittellegi Ridge before sumitting the Eiger around 1400.  The descent was in good condition also and they made such good time they could have still caught the last train down to Grindlewald.  Train to Train on the Eiger, that’s a new one to us!

Jon on the North Face fixed ropes on the Mittellegi Ridge on the Eiger. Photo Alberto di Guili

When we jokingly asked if they were going to do the Jungfrau tomorrow…the reply, no, it’s not in good condition…but maybe the Monch!  Chapeau and congratulations to Jon on a brilliant completion and only our 2nd successful Project Mission Impossible.

Jon on the North Face fixed ropes on the Mittellegi Ridge on the Eiger. Photo Alberto di Guili
Summit of the Eiger. Boom! Mission Impossible complete…once the descent / traverse is safely negotiated….

3 August, Matterhorn – Bishorn – Chamonix Rock Climbing

Our 3 Matterhorn teams experienced quite tough summit conditions this morning after yesterdays stormy weather.  Some teams had crampons on below the Solvay Hut and numerous teams turned around at the Solvay Hut in quite snowy / icy conditions.  As this photo shows there was some climbing which was more delicate than usual with the snowy conditions, like here on the lower Mosely slab just below the Solvay Hut at 4000m.

Snowy conditions on the lower Mosely slab just below the Solvay Hut at 4000m on the Matterhorn. Photo Albert0 di Guili

However the snowy conditions meant there were a lot less teams on the mountains than usual and Alberto and Jon were the 3rd team to the summit and only around 8 teams reached the summit today.  A demanding but rewarding ascent for them and an impressive continuation of their ‘Mission Impossible‘ project, having now climbed Matterhorn & Mont Blanc over 3 days….and are now in Grindlewald and hoping to climb the Eiger tomorrow!

A superb position on the shoulder on the Hornli Ridge, Matterhorn
Jon on the summit of the Matterhorn and thus two thirds of the way through his ‘Mission Impossible’ project….Thanks to Alberto di Guili

Owain and Tom also had a fresh and snowy morning on the ascent of the Bishorn although the fresh snow makes for less delicate climbing than on the Matterhorn!  They made the summit in good style and enjoyed superb views across to the Dom & Tasch and much of the surrounding Swiss Valais Alps…

Tom & Owain on the summit of the Bishorn after a fresh and snowy ascent from Tracuit Hut, above Zinal. Photo thanks to Owain Jones
The mighty Weisshorn North Ridge & Grande Gendarme from the Bishorn Summit, Photo thanks to Owain Jones

The Tracuit Hut is busy and lots of teams are up there enjoying the decent conditions, great weather and this physical but relatively technically easy 4000m peak.

Back in Chamonix our rock climbing team headed to the shady Aiguille du Peigne and Les Lépidoptères which gave a real Chamonix Granite feel and pleasant climbing conditions in the warm & dry conditions prevailing at the moment. There is very little snow left in the Papillons couloir on the descent of the rock climbs on that part of the mountain or in general for approaching the middle mountain rock climbs in the Aiguilles Rouges etc.  Higher up however, there is still some decent snow volume on the glaciers and routes on the South Face of the Midi, Eperon des Cosmiques and even Salluard route on Pointe Adolphe Rey all have reasonable approaches thanks to the decent snow volume remaining higher up.  Our Chamonix Rock team will hopefully be enjoying the sunny south facing granite on the Rebuffat route on the South Face of the Midi tomorrow….

Les Lépidoptères on the Aiguille du Peigne, Chamonix. Photo Jon Bracey

1 August, Mont Blanc – Pigne d’Arolla – Chamonix Mountaineering

Alberto & Jon climbed Mont Blanc this morning in great style from Tete Rousse to the summit in 5 hours in good conditions and stopped at the Gouter Hut on the way down.   This is the first of the big 3 summits on Jon’s plan to do the Mission Impossible!  The next planned ascent is the Matterhorn and many teams climbed that mountain today via both the Hornli and Italian Lion Ridges, reporting good conditions on the former at least.

Dawn from the Dome! Alberto & Jon climbing Mont Blanc this morning in good style. Photo Alberto di Giuli

It was a great summit day today with fine weather, little wind and a good overnight freeze giving crisp snow on the glaciers this morning.   Our Pigne d’Arolla team made a fine traverse of the mountain from Dix Hut and down to Arolla Base camp this evening before heading up to the Tracuit Hut tomorrow to try the Bishorn.  The conditions were fine for the Pigne although it is worth noting the rather more complicated crevassing than normal at the top of the steep serpentine slope and snow cover is low on the lower altitude bits of glacier.

Mont Blanc summit ridge, Photo Alberto di Giuli

Snow conditions were also good on the Col du Midi this morning and there were lots of teams doing the normal route on the Mont Blanc du Tacul.  There was a decent looking track albeit with a pretty recent debris slide having tracked right over it and some more fresh looking debris at the base of the face which had come from the very upper seracs.  There were a few teams setting off on the traverse of the Vallee Blanche and the odd team also doing Pointe Lachenal which looked pretty icy and loose rocky!  The easy summit ridge on the main peak is very chossy, and whilst the approach path was ok, the seracs above don’t look good and I’m not sure how long the little glacier on this north face will be there for.  See photo below for the current state of this peak an glacier / ice slope approach.

The little glacial north face of Pointe Lachenal with the ascent track on the right and little north face centre right.

There were lots of teams rock climbing on the South Face of the Midi and the approach to the Eperon de Cosmiques looked ok with a couple of teams climbing on that.  There were also a few teams traversing a dry Arete Laurence and also the Cosmiques Arete although this seemed a lot quieter than normal probably due to last years rock fall changing the route.   The routes on the Triangle du Tacul now look like ‘high summer’ conditions, eg not good for ice routes!  The Chere Couloir in particular looked like a rocky rubble chute lower down and well worth avoiding.  However, despite the poor conditions in places, there remains pretty good snow cover for the time of year in many high altitude locations and the good weather has been giving some great sunny mountain rock & high alpine climbing.

The Chamonix Valley at sunrise from the Gouter Route on Mont Blanc. Photo Alberto di Giuli

31 July, Dufourspitze, Dent du Geant, Skyway Monte Bianco Mountaineering Conditions

We are really pleased for Andrew & Steven who sumitted the Dufourspitze today with Neil.  A brilliant big peak – 2nd only to Mont Blanc in the Alps.  A great achievement after coming out to climb Mont Blanc a few years ago and plugging away at other good alpine peaks and routes and improving their skills, hopefully towards a future ascent of the Matterhorn.  Neil reported very good snow conditions on the ascent this morning thanks to the storms last weekend.   They also enjoyed the new ascent path and made a leisurely 4.5 hour ascent from the train station to Monte Rosa Hut.  They also climbed the Breithorn as part of their warm up and acclimatisation programme and had a pleasant night at Schwarzsee Hotel.

Andrew, Steven & Neil on the summit of the Breithorn, with the Monte Rosa Massif beyond.

We had several teams climb the Dent du Geant and traverse of the Aiguille d’Entreves in the last few days.  The former was busy with lots of teams enjoying the steep solid granite of the tooth itself, a lot more than the loose and chossy approach which is changing by the year as more bits fall of it!  There were also teams heading along the full traverse towards the Grandes Jorasses and teams on the normal route on the Jorasses from the Val Feret also.

The upper slabs on the Dent du Geant. Photo Paul Warnock

The approach to the Aiguilles d’Entreves has a few crevasses growing on it and one particularly big slot about half way with a pretty narrow bridge to watch out for.   There are some small crevasses but with a few holes around them near the descent from the end of the traverse itself.   The descent from the ridge was done today via a 25m abseil from the new bolted anchor on the north side of the ridge.

The scenic, and crevassed! Glacier walk from Skyway Monte Bianco to the Col d’Entreves and start of the traverse of the Entreves.

Inevitably there was a constant stream of rock fall from the old / winter route on the Tour Ronde and only a faint old track now visible to approach the Arete Freshfield.    There was however a team on the summit!   Also various teams camped under the Grand Capucin, various teams doing the traverse of the Vallee Blanche and one team seen doing the West Face of the Aiguille de Toule, presumably then descending the loose rocky East Face.

Great ‘solid’ granite on the traverse of the Aiguilles d’Entreves

We have teams poised to hopefully climb Mont Blanc and the Dent Blanche in the next few days, so check back in for updates on those as well as the Eiger next week if the weather holds.  Conditions are reported to be pretty good for the traverse via the Mittellegi and South Ridge.  We have teams also enjoying some brilliant middle mountain Chamonix alpine rock this week and have been doing routes like the Arete Fret above Montenvers, see photo, the Arete de Marion above the Col des Aravis, Multi pitch easy mountain rock at Brevent and the traverse of the Aiguilles Marbrees from the Skyway Monte Bianco.

We diverted plans to do the Traverse of the Domes de Miage this week as the latter part of the traverse is now icy and not in good condition although teams have been doing the summit aller retour from Conscrits.   Despite the heatwave, some snowy routes are holding up ok and the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour from the Albert Premier Hut has been popular and relatively fine!  We have a team aiming to do the traverse of the Pigne d’Arolla tomorrow and then hopefully climb the Bishorn later in the week….

We still have a few places available on 2019 late summer alpine mountaineering courses…

And, for summer 2020 courses….

The South side of Mont Blanc from the Dent du Geant