The weather in Zermatt on the first morning of our 3 day Matterhorn training / familiarisation programme was even more uninspiring than the forecast had predicted, which was saying something! Fortunately there was an excellent breakfast and free flowing coffee at the hotel and the Matterhorn chat was also free flowing, all useful info!
In the end we decided a walk up to to the Hornli Hut would at least give us some views of a wet start to the Hornli Ridge and an opportunity to do some accurate cramponing on the icy approach path and perhaps some fixed rope training on the initial pitches above the hut.
On buying our tickets to Schwarzsee, we noticed the webcam up high was actually showing blue skies. Whilst we had joked about the steady rain being an inversion…it turned out it was! The télécabine punched through the clouds above 3000m and we were treated to a bright white light show as the giants of the Zermatt skyline showed off their new fresh white coats!
Very pleasant conditions were thus enjoyed on the traverse of the Breithorn Western & Central summits with a fine narrow snow ridge section linking the two peaks. Richard starting feeling some affects from the altitude and rapid rise, swift climb on the descent and this prompted lots of discussion about acclimatisation as part of the preparation for the Hornli Ridge ascent. Happily the rapid descent on the lift provided an almost immediate remedy!
Next day the weather dawned driech again so we reverted to the ascent to Hornli Hut which gave some atmospheric views through occasional clearings in the thick cloud to nearby Swiss Giants like the Monte Rosa, Lyskam, Dent Blanche and Zinalrothorn. The steep final bastion of the approach path was well icy and gave some good crampon practice. Then we enjoyed some fixed rope & neat crampon work on rock practice at the base of the Hornli Ridge, before a brew in the Hornli Hut winter room which was very clean & tidy.
The great mountain hotel ambiance was then enjoyed at Schwarzsee with some good views when the rain clouds parted. The last day also dawned very wet and we made the journey back to Zermatt via a fine footpath descending under the North Face of the Matterhorn before climbing to the traverse balcon leading round to Trift and descent of the final steep gorge leading directly to the Zermatt High street.