Switzerland 2005

Please Note that some of these pictures were taken by our guide Dominique Fellay please email him if you are planning any trips in the area dominique.fellay@bluewin.ch .

 

Chris and I had planned to do five or so peaks on this trip but it turned out I wasn't in the best of shape and due to an injury to my knee three months earlier I was only able to spend a couple days in the clouds. We started our trek from Zermatt and took the cable car up to the Klien Matterhorn a peak just East of the Matterhorn. The cable car stops and you walk through a tunnel in the mountain to get to the other side. Most tourists here either hike nearby or ski onto the glacier. We began our hike by heading South East and up to the summit of The Breithorn,(13,661 ft./4164 m) a simple snow climb if your in shape. From Zermatt the peak looks very foreboding with its huge overhanging serac. I never really noticed it until Dominique pointed it out as we were coming down with the cable car  a few days later. The path takes you right on top of the serac which no doubt will one day collapse. Its quite an awesome sight. My right knee started hurting on the descent from the Breithorn and our original plan was to summit Pollux also in order to get better acclimatized but my knee was sore. We instead passed by the base of Pollux, (13425 ft./4092 m) and headed to the Hut a short distance below.. We were officially on the Italian side and my Italian came in useful as I needed to use the phone to check work messages - I suppose it was a working vacation. After some good food and a night of rest my knee felt a little better. We woke at 4am ate breakfast and we headed up to summit Pollux, which is an easy mixed climb of rock and snow. There is a small pitch of steep rock fitted with chains which can be used to drag yourself up. Its a short (One to Two hour hike) but exciting little climb. After hiking down from Pollux my knees were very sore and unstable again, so we decided not to attempt the Monte Rosa Massif as was planned. We took a break at the base of Pollux, (smaller peak center left) and Dominique mentioned once we climbed past the main peak (center) it would be too difficult to attempt Monte Rosa and return. The hike out to Zermatt is by way of a long glacier behind and to the left of these peaks which involves a long day of hiking down snow and rock. I knew my knees would not be able to handle this so we turned around and headed back to the cable car.

 View of Pollux and ascent to Monte Rosa Massif the highest peak in Switzerland.

 

Hiking back to the cable car Mont Blanc is the mountain in the distant centre.

So we headed back down to Zermatt ate some great food and drank some fine beer and headed back to Sion. The rest of the week was spent rock climbing, canyoning and more rock climbing which I enjoyed a great deal. Friday we tried for another peak near Sion called the Dent Blanche which is somewhat technical but after spending eight hours hiking to the Hut, (very slow) Me and Chris were spent. I had decided I was happy hiking to the hut and knew my knees were not up to a summit attempt. After dinner and a good  sleep Chris woke up and decided not to summit either. I had a long and painful hike back to the trailhead and was glad to just rest my legs.  I was glad to have pushed myself to do a final spectacular multi-pitch climb on Sunday before leaving for Geneva. It is the first real multi-pitch, (8 pitches) I have done and although the exposure took some getting used too I really enjoyed it, (see "exposure" picture below).


 

Left to right Denise, (Dominique's wife), Peter, Me, Chris and Dominique.

View of the Medieval Church (Chapelle de Tous-les-Saints) in Sion.

View of the Matterhorn from Zermatt, usually it is not covered in snow this time of year.

Looking at the Matterhorn from the top of the Breithorn

On top of the Breithorn our first summit

A veiw looking south from the hut. Below is Val D'Aosta in Italy and in the distance Val Paradiso and the plains of Italy beyond it.

Just above the rock face on pollux. An iron statue of the Virgin Mary looking towards Italy.

Chilling on the summit of Pollux. Notice there are more smiles in the rock climbing picks.

A view of Monte Rosa from Pollux. As can be seen in this picture the hike is quite far and involves a few peaks. This is what I was concerned about.

Swiss cows grazing on the way to our first rock climb day

This is the limestone cliff we rock climbed at first. Its in a world famous rock climbing region called Sanetsch.

Warming up on some top rope in the Sanetsch Region just north of Saviese. These are great limestone climbs of 30 to 100 meters.

Leading a short 5.8

Chris

Belaying Dominique - lots of smiles

Seconding a beautiful friction climb in Sanetsch

This region is truely beautiful. The road below winds through a valley which not too long ago held a glacier which can still be seen.

The limestone was like sandpaper and the feet held without using hardly any hands.

Near the top, notice the back pack below right, this one was two short pitches. Really nice

Chris on the same route

Ok this one is Dominique using some creative photography or maybe Chris is actually spider man

Airing out our feet on top before hiking back down.

Just 20 minutes from Dominique's home is some great water falls to try canyoning in. As you can see it took me some time to get fitted in my wet suit.

View of Dent Blanche from Dominiques house in Saviese. Sion is below and the small nib of a peak to the right of the Dent Blanche is the Matterhorn

Beautiful vistas looking down from the trail to Dent Blanche

An old shepards hut on the hike to Dent Blanche

The Dent Blanche up close

On the hike towards Dent Blanche our last peak some green begins to take hold on the barren glacier rock.

The Dent Blanche is a semi technical rock route. The ridge with the plume is the normal route.

Dominique belaying Chris on our multipitch climb. See the water fall below

Exposure? Ok even though this climb wasn't very exposed it had hiegth. The town below is Martigny an hour from Geneva.