23 Aug 2020, Weissmies & Dri Horlini Traverses

It was good to be back at the Almageller Hut for the first time this season and to see the friendly and efficient team making the most of a difficult season.  Like for many guides, the Almageller Hut and Weissmies South Ridge is a familiar haunt so it was interesting to take in a different part of the mountain with an ascent of the ‘Rotgrat’, West Ridge and make a fine Matterhorn Training weekend with a descent of the more popular and easier South Ridge as well as a multi pitch rock route and ridge traverse on the Dry Horlini ridge behind the hut.

High on the Rotgrat with the big peaks of the Saas Fee / Zermatt skyline above the valley cloud beyond

In the dark and mist this morning we really appreciated the hard work of Gabriel and Hugo from the Almageller Hut who have painted hundreds of flashes of yellow paint leading from just behind the winter hut across seemingly thousands of boulders right up on to the Rotgrat itself.

Rami following the yellow paint through the boulders and mist before dawn this morning.

This section is mainly rough walking with some easy scrambling but there is some steeper ground leading up from the boulders to link with the main ridge.  This gives more enjoyable easy climbing and scrambling with many bolts en route!

Steeper ground leading up to the start of the Rotgrat

The Rotgrat itself is graded Pd with a few moves of 3 but is generally enjoyable easy climbing right on or near the fine long red crest.

The fine long crest of the Rotgrat, west ridge of the Weissmies

At around 3740m the ridge joins what’s left of the glacier leading up from the northern flank of the mountain above Hohsaas and many teams were heading down this way.  Apparently there is a ladder in place to facilitate access across one of the bigger crevasses!  The upper slopes were getting a little icy but had a good track and were well frozen this morning giving rapid access to the summit and traverse over to the top of the South Ridge.

A slightly icy summit ridge of the Weissmies – late summer conditions!

The South Ridge was dry from here down and we removed the crampons and down climbed this easier broader ridge and continued back to the hut to make a fine round trip of about 7 hours.  Across the Saas Valley we could see a big track on the Alphubel and across the Rhone Valley we heard from a Grindlewald Guide on the same route that conditions were good at the moment for the traverse of the Eiger.

The brilliant position and views from Almageller Hut.

As part of our approach the previous day we had enjoyed some of the immaculate rock on the lovely sunny crags right behind the hut.  Great climbing and good acclimatisation with a summit over 3200m.  The 5a route ‘Schmetterling’ has a series of really enjoyable pitches, fully bolted with both runners and anchors, leading all the way to the crest of the main ridge near the most obvious tower.

Great climbing on the granite of the Dry Horlini crag behind Almageller Hut

We have places on our Weissmies course in September and an intro high alpine mountaineering day this Thursday 27th Aug, leaving Chamonix to visit the glaciers on the Italian side of the Vallée Blanche accessed from the brilliant Skyway Monte Bianco lift.   There are 2 places so get in touch if you would like a day of mountaineering training, glacier travel journey and some high altitude Italian café!

Abseil from one of the towers on the Dru Horlini Ridge with awesome views across to the giants of the Swiss Valais beyond.

We still have some spaces available on Chamonix mountaineering group courses running in September and still have availability for private guiding based either in Chamonix or the Swiss or Italian Alps over the rest of the summer season.  Please get in touch if we can help.