Blog

A short Swiss roadtrip: Matterhorn and Salbit

20120829-salbit-217.jpg

Apologies for the lack of updates for a while – surprisingly enough for mountain adventure photography, the heart of summer is actually low season, while things pick up with a vengeance come the fall… In between photoshoots and planning a wee expedition to Morocco, here are some updates on a cool trip in late August with Hulya.

It all started with a plan to go shoot some hardcore climbing on the famous Tre Cime in the Dolomites. Hulya and I quickly agreed it didn’t make sense to drive the 8 hours from Chamonix and not climb anything, so we planned to get on the most classic line, the Comici-Dimai on Cima Grande. And since we were driving anyway, and it’s kind of on the way (what’s a 3 hours detour, really?), we thought we’d attempt the Zmutt Ridge on the Matterhorn on the way back. It’s a much harder proposition than the two normal routes and is rarely in condition, but we had heard good reports two weeks earlier, so it was worth a shot.

Finally, at the last minute, the Dolomite shoot was cancelled but our spirits were so high that we decided to just make it a Matterhorn trip, and see from there. To make a long story short, we had the usual Zermatt experience: beautiful, overpriced and with awful service in the Hörnli factoryhut. We traversed under the North Face but decided to turn around before reaching the ridge proper, a combination of high winds and terrible ice conditions. Bailing was actually much more involved than going up, especially having to downclimb a bad ice slope with barely any screws. Slipping would have been a really bad idea. Since it was still early, we gave a weak hearted try on the classic Hörnli ridge, but eventually yours truly felt too tired to keep going and we just went back down to Rösti-land.

Somewhat discouraged by our Zermatt experience, we decided to drive a few hours to the Bernese Oberland and what had been described to us as a granite paradise, Salbitschjen. The double crux turned out to be not spending a few days eating blueberries on the approach trail, and managing to leave the insanely tasty breakfast in the local hut. We had intended to get on the crazy West Ridge, a 32 pitches, 1000m, 6b route, but threatening weather made us reconsider and we climbed the shorter and mellower South Ridge with Takala start instead (still 17 pitches, 600m, 5c+) and uncharacteristically only got pouring rain well into the descent.

Continue reading

Standard