Friday, 17 July 2009

Monte Rosa (Dufourspitze 4633.9m) day 1

From Zermatt, Ben and I got the Gornegratt railway up to Rotenboden, some 2818m above sea level. Since our destination, the Monte Rosa Hut, was only at 2795m this might seem like cheating, but it was a 3hr hike down onto a glacier and up a cliff to get there. Today we didn't even need crampons, since the glacier was quite dry and gritty, so our good winter boots were enough. We were constantly filled with trepidation about our impending climb, since our route was spread out in front of us and we had plenty of time to contemplate it. On a more positive note, we were also able to see the conquered Breithorn and some splendid views of the Matterhorn.

We got to the hut at about 11am (plenty of the day left to acclimatise) and found it all to be pretty civilised. Dinner was to be at 6.30 (Italian themed today - soup, salad, spag bol and meringue) and lights out at 10pm (far too late for us - we were in bed by 8), ready for breakfast at 2am. This left us several hours after arrival to scout out the beginning of the climb - we climbed up to 3500m, where the main glacier started - put on crampons and generally got a good (invaluable) feel for the first few hours which would all be in the dark. Over dinner we chatted to a couple of veteran british climbers from manchester who couldn't help name-dropping the Matterhorn amongst climbs they had done (they said it was easy). They were quite encouraging though, so we went to bed thinking we might be able to get to the top the following day. Sleep didn't come easily (for me at least) - I spent most of the few hours that we had thinking about how I would cope with the conditions - would I get altitude sickness, would we make it to the summit by midday (our turn around time), would the summit ridge prove too technically difficult? Eventually I did get an hour or so of sleep before the brutal 2am call came around....

The start of the walk to the Monte Rosa Hut

The view of Monte Rosa - the Dufourspitze being the right-hand peak.

The ever-present Matterhorn.

Rotenboden station

No comments:

Post a Comment