Friday, 17 July 2009

The Breithorn (4164m)

Sunday saw us waking at 6 to catch the first cable car up to the Klein Matterhorn. We actually ended up getting the second one, since there were far too many excitable small skiers around to make it worth pushing for a space. The string of three cable cars took us to over 3800m, so modern mechanisation makes a bit of a mockery of this once challenging peak. Still it suited our purposes by providing a training ground for some ice techniques and some much needed acclimitization (even if this was reached far too quickly in the cable car).

We were in the first batch of about 20 to start the climb and we began the trail across the glacier. The southern slopes that we approached were fairly featureless and just plain steep snow, so we just had to adjust our pace to suit the angle and plod on. We only had a total of about 400m to ascend, so after about an hour, we were reaching the east ridge - only then did it feel like we were on a mountain, not just some snowy playground, since the ridge narrows to a crest which is not more than a metre wide for a stretch of 100m or so. It was exhillerating to edge our way along this and when we reached the small summit, the views were stunning. We could see Mont Blanc and Gran Tourmalin in the far west, the Weisshorn in the north and the fine ridge along to Liskamm and eventually Monte Rosa to the east. We gazed in that direction mostly, since that was our objective for the following days.

Summit snap.

The Matterhorn from the top.

Along the ridge, with Monte Rosa in teh distance.

Looking back at the now swarming summit.

The only difficulty we found was the fact we had to move slowly with the altitude, but otherwise it was an ideal introduction. Due to our rapid ascent, we both found we had headaches for a few hours afterwards and when we returned to Zermatt we slept for a few hours in the afternoon - whether that was anything to do with the altitude I'm not sure, since I had had very little sleep the previous night.

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