Summer 2011

Rimpfischhorn 4199m, WSW ridge, PD+ – 2nd September 2011

This striking peak, with its summit ridge like the back of a porcupine, lies between the mountain areas of Zermatt and Saas Fee. From the summit you might see the odd lift installation but really the view is of a vast area of mountains and little sign of humanity.

Looking out from high up on the ridge, towards the Monte Rosa – Breithorn chain

The long walk-in adds to the sense of isolation, for us it took over 4 hours of an approach on glaciers to reach the start of the difficulties from the Britannia Hut above Saas Fee.

Sunrise, welcome after 2 hours of glacier ploddingThe summit ridge appears to be quite snowy for this time of year

After the long approach, the difficulties were concise and interesting and soon took us straight to the summit. A great finish to a busy week for John, Grant and Kevin, with guides Olly and Matt.

Dent du Géant, SW face, Mont Blanc Massif – 30th August 2011

Looking directly at the Dent du Géant SW face

The Dent du Géant (the Giant’s tooth) located at the start of the Rochefort arete on the French/Italian border is a striking feature amongst the peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif. An obvious and natural rock-climb to reach the summit of this lofty 4000m peak, no easy feat at this altitude, although it is made somewhat easier these days by a chain of fixed ropes to aid progress.

Looking up at the Burgener Slabs

The summit’s shadow looms in the space below

Great climbing and situations lead directly to the SW summit, followed by a short summit and final climb to the main summit at 4013m.

Aiguille d’Entrèves traverse, Mont Blanc Massif – 29th August 2011

The Chamonix granite makes for exposed scrambling in spectacular surroundings

Grand Cornier, north ridge AD – 18th August 2011

Morning light on the Grand Cornier north ridge, with the Dent Blanche lurking behind on the left

A group making their way along the SW ridge of the Grand Cornier

Mont Blanc de Cheilon, traverse east to west (AD) – 16th August 2011

The jagged crest of the ridge traverse follows the slim glacier, that at times overhangs the face below

Matterhorn, 4478m, Hornli Ridge (AD) – 11th August 2011

The first teams are reaching the Solvay bivoak as the morning sun finally arrives

On the slabs below the hut, loads more snow than usual so crampons on early

Having reached the shoulder on the upper part of the ridge

Thanks to Graham Frost for these images that follow…

From the Italian summit, looking back towards the Swiss one

Grand Cornier, SW ridge (AD) – 9th August 2011

Exposed and interesting scrambling, both below the clouds…

The Grand Cornier is one of a handful of alpine peaks whose height is just under the 4000m mark, so subsequently it is not widely known about and is never busy. Which is just as well as it’s ridges don’t have much space available for crowds.

A cool hut at the Col de la Dent Blanche, well worth the 5 hour walk

Starting from the Dent Blanche bivoak hut (just visible behind in the above photo) the scrambling starts almost immediately, and soon the nature of the climb becomes apparent.

Always narrow and exposed, the route finds a way over towers or around them, on very good rock mostly but the challenges don’t let up even to reach the summit. And always at the back of the mind is that we are going to return back down by the same route.

…and above the clouds, just! From our summit ridge we are sharing the sunshine with the very highest tops of the Alps.

A very good alpine mountaineering excursion, with spectacular views and ambience, and very good training for our next climb…

Zinalrothorn, south face & SW ridge (AD) – 3rd August 2011

A morning of sunshine and cold winds, high up on the Zinalrothorn SW ridge

The Couronne de Bréona, south-north traverse (AD) – 31st July 2011

Interesting scrambling over the first obstacle, the Clocher…

Starting from beneath the Moiry Glacier in the central Valais alps, this was an enjoyable excursion on good rock and with plenty of exposure. Some good climbing up and over the prominent Clocher and on the other towers along the ridge.

Descending from the Clocher summit… being watched by a Brockenspectre

Abseiling and down-climbing followed each ascent, making the route very good training for the alpine routes we aspired to doing later in the week.

Descending from the main summit, the interest and the exposure continues

A very snowy summer on the Lagginhorn, west face PD – 29th July 2011

High up, nearing the summit, with the peaks of the Mischabel and Monte Rosa in the background accompanying us for most of the ascent

Looking up towards the summit… and some great-looking snow!

Hello… a mother chamois and kid

Bishorn (4153m) with a school group from West London – 15th July 2011

Heading up to the final summit ridge of the Bishorn

The Bishorn was the main objective this week, for a group of 16 pupils and their 3 teachers, accompanied by 4 guides in total. Preparation began with a glacier training day followed a day of rock-climbing at venues nearby to our base in Grimentz, in the central Swiss Valais.

We staged the final summit attempt over 3 days to allow for better acclimatisation, so we started from the remoter Turtmanntal and its mountain refuge at the edge of the glacier. This also helped avoid being high-up through some particularly wet weather.

The following day was a glacier approach up to the Tracuit hut. We were able to glimpse the summit from below for half an hour before the clouds rolled in again. However the rain, and subsequently the new snowfall higher up made for a beautifully fresh white mountain the next day.

With a perfect weather forcast the 4 teams made steady progress up the Bishorn glacier, hard work, but a determined bunch of lads and teachers all made it to the top. It was quite a feat in itself to coordinate everyone’s arrival to be on the summit at the same time!

All 19 on the Bishorn summit with the giant Weishorn just behind

Tour Ronde SE ridge (AD) Mont Blanc Massif – 5th July 2011

The amazing summit of the Tour Ronde in front of the Mont Blanc Brenva Face

The summit was approached and descended via the SE ridge

Quite exposed and tricky at times…

A fine view looking south into Italy

Welcome seating arrangements for Majella and Genevieve after a long day. Tour Ronde summit visible top right

Windy on Mont Blanc – 25th June 2011

High winds curtailed our plan for the summit ridge of Mont Blanc. The saltire had to be aired instead just outside the Vallot refuge

The day before… Snowy conditions in early summer, Rachel and Helen standing in front of the Aiguille du GouterNearing the top of the Gouter ridge scramble

Above a sea of cloud, looking across at the Aiguille de Bionnassay…

…from the Gouter hut, at 3817m

Glamour magazine was also produced (!) the summit hiding in the backgroundThe team beginning to rime up…

Looking back at the Dome du Gouter, a mushroom of windy cloud hiding the mountain and deciding our chance of summiting Mont Blanc on this day

Sea cliff climbing on the Moray coast – June 2011