Following on from our Weissmies trip, Chris and I headed straight over to Zermatt to meet Erik and prepare for our planned Matterhorn ascent.
After a very hot and dry early summer, it was a bit of a shock to see the Matterhorn looking more wintery. A few teams had been summiting (or trying) but basically the mountain was in less than ideal condition.
Coupled with regular afternoon thunderstorms, it was definitely far from certain that we would be able to get very high on the mountain, but we had a couple of days to climb around Zermatt first.
We started off by catching the Klien Matterhorn lift and traversing the glacier to climb the 4000m Pollux. The conditions were pretty good, but the clouds were already starting to build up so we didn’t hang around that long before climbing back towards the lift. It was very tempting to climb the neighbouring Castor as well, but by the time we got to the lift and down into Zermatt the storm was putting down some fresh snow up high.
The following day found us back up at the same lift with a traverse of the Breithorn planned. But as soon as we stepped out of the lift that idea was shelved. Very strong winds were blowing across the plateau and whipping across the tops, a committing ridge traverse wasn’t a good idea! We settled for a variation of the normal route instead, which still involved a few minutes of ridge climbing, more than enough excitement!
After an easy afternoon in Zermatt resting, the next morning Chris, Erik and now fellow mountain guide Tim and I walked up to the Hornli hut. It was pretty quiet up there with none of the local Zermatt guides climbing yet due to the conditions.
Eight guides and their clients set off the next morning after the 4am breakfast and a very helpful and friendly atmosphere prevailed on the mountain. Conditions were actually pretty good, and we were sheltered from the wind. Some of the fixed ropes higher on the mountain were pretty icy, but apart from that it was fine.
We put our crampons on at the shoulder and as we came onto the summit slopes it did get pretty windy, we didn’t spend long on the summit, just enough for the photos!
So congratulations Chris and Erik – top work.
The following day at the Hornli hut saw forty guides climb the mountain. Quite a contrast.