10 September 2020, Lagginhorn & Weissmies Traverses + Monte Rosa & Gran Paradiso Conditions

After the big early taste of autumn there has been a return to late summer conditions in the Alps and lots of teams have been out enjoying some high alpine routes in quite dry conditions again.  We did another trip up the South Ridge of the Lagginhorn yesterday which was completely dry and only required crampons for the short glacier ascent to the Lagginjoch.

Dawn over the beautiful Saas Skyline during the short glacier ascent to the Lagginjoch.

The South Ridge provides an enjoyable long AD- alpine route and is a good taste of a big classic Swiss Valais style alpine 4000m ascent via an AD, but not as tough as some of it’s more burly neighbours. Teams were also climbing the North Ridge of the Weissmies which looked to have a bit more snow on it but seems to go ok regardless.  For both routes the approach to the Lagginjoch is currently probably better done via the low route as the upper Hohsaas approach looks messy with more rockfall hazard as per photo topo below.

Approximate line of our approach to the Lagginjoch, conditions as per on Sept 9th 2020

There were only 3 teams on the South Ridge but we met many more at the summit who had climbed the normal route up the rocky West ridge, again in dry conditions. One team had climbed the long and pretty remote Hohsaasgrat on the Fletschhorn which they described as long and pretty remote feeling, before traversing to the Lagginhorn.

The last few moves on the South Ridge of the Lagginhorn before the summit is reached. Great views out to the Eastern continuation of the Alps and, further south, the western Italian Lake district.

The West Ridge normal route was popular and entirely rocky at the moment with a fairly unpleasant loose section near the summit.   In descent, we avoided the traditional descent to the diminishing glacier on the west face and continued down the logical lower west ridge route which is mainly a pleasant cairned route with some easy scrambling and path country lower down linking to the moraine ridge path leading back to Weissmies Hut.  This avoids the exposure to stonefall encountered on the traditional route when under the large open and currently rocky loose slopes on the West Face.

The Weissmies Hut and it’s wonderful views across to the Saas Skyline with the Allalinhorn on the left and then moving right, Alphubel, Tasch, Dom, Lenspitze and Nadelhorn.

Numerous teams had also traversed the Weissmies, and across the valley, teams had made the Lenspitze – Nadelhorn traverse describing decent conditions and there was a big track on the Alphubel from the Langflue hut above Saas Fee.  As part of our hut approach day we enjoyed the long mountain sport route on the South Face of the Jeggihorn, ‘Alpendurst’ which, according to the team we met on the summit was 14 pitches, we had lost count!   A really enjoyable long rock outing and a bit easier but longer than it’s ‘Sudkante’ neighbour. 

Excellent big boot rock climbing on the 14 pitch ‘Alpendurst’ on the South Face of the Jeggihorn just 30mins from the Weissmies Hut.

Over in the Italian Monte Rosa Massif, Kev and Simon had enjoyed fine conditions and great weather for ascents of Punta Giordani, Schwarzhorn, Ludwigshoe and Parrotspitze.  Today they made an early morning ascent of Pyramid Vincent this morning to top off an excellent few days in the high mountains, where they enjoyed completely deserted summits on all 5 peaks and 2 good nights at the Mantova and Gnifetti Huts.

Another superb summit in the Monte Rosa Massif with the South Face of the Dufourspitze, left, Zumsteinspitze (above Simons head) behind and the Margherita Hut on Punta Gnifetti also in the background, right. Photo Kev Avery.

We had a team climb the South Ridge on on the Weissmies today and another hoping to do Gran Paradiso tomorrow although the forecast is not so good for the morning. However it’s better for both teams heading to Mont Blanc early next week so we will have more conditions updates from those peaks shortly.

Maddy and Geoff on the summit of the Weissmies having climbed the South Ridge, 10/9/20. Photo Thanks Neil Hitchings.Maddy and Geoff on the summit of the Weissmies having climbed the South Ridge, 10/9/20. Photo Thanks Neil Hitchings.

The Gouter & Tete Rousse Huts on Mont Blanc have just announced they will be staying open later in the season this year, until October 12th, so stay in touch if you would like to Climb Mont Blanc in this superb early autumn period.  See photo below from a previous early autumn ascent.

Summit of Mont Blanc and the mixture of emotions are running high. France on one side, Italy on the other. Magnificent view across the Alps, tired legs…must concentrate…must keep going for the descent. Relief? Satisfaction? Elation? Concern about the descent? Mont Blanc is a very personal challenge….

There are currently still spaces available on our 3 day early autumn Gran Paradiso course 27-29th Sept.

We also have spaces on our UK Mont Blanc training & Matterhorn training weekends in both the Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia as per these dates and details:

Late summer, early autumn mountaineering on the quality exposed central section of the South Ridge of the Lagginhorn.