Tony Pond Alps Climbing • September 2003

Tony Pond, from California's Newport Beach, had been climbing for some time but had never made it across the Atlantic to sample the Alps. He and Mark spent 12 days wandering from Chamonix to Zermatt and finally Grindelwald. The end of the summer's heat wave coincided with Tony's visit, and we just managed to squeeze in Mont Blanc, before more rain began to fall, with snow up in the hills. But more clear weather followed, and even though new snow complicated rocky ascents, we did do some great climbs.

Other Recent Trips

The Cosmiques Arête on the Aiguille du Midi was our first climb. The route follows the left-hand skyline, more or less. Notice how dry the glaciers are with lots of old gray ice and rockfall debris flowing out onto the snow. This view is from the Cosmiques hut.


Inside the Cosmiques hut. Our original plan was to do one or two more acclimatization ascents, but the forecast called for only one more day of good weather, so we decided to go for the big one and do the Traverse of Mont Blanc. It is a lucky thing we did as the weather did indeed poop out on us the day after.


Tony on the summit of Mont Blanc. We could watch the dark clouds building to the west all day long. Fortunately, the weather held long enough for us to easily get down.


Looking east from near the summit. The Grandes Jorasses is the large peak in the foreground, the the Grand Combine just behind. The Matterhorn is the little pointy thing to the right and Monte Rosa the broad massif in the distant center of the photo.


Descending back over the Traverse. Here we pass a couple tents on the Col Maudit, with the Aiguilles du Diable on Mont Blanc du Tacul in the background.


Because of the very dry spring and the hot summer, Mont Blanc du Tacul was a bit of a mess. Local guides have put in a fixed rope over this tricky section. On the way up we walked around this part, winding through some wild crevasses, but we rappelled this wall in descent.


So the next day it rained all day long. It was probably just as well as up and down the Traverse on the second day in the area is pretty tiring.

On our 4th day we escaped the rain with a quick dash into Italy to climb at Machaby, a smooth wall of fine gneiss just down valley from Aosta, offering about 10 pitches of good climbing in the sun.


After Machaby, we continued on to Zermatt to see how conditions were there. We met Kathy and her guest, Bruce and all hiked up to the Almageller hut with designs on a traverse of the Weissmies. Here we are just leaving the Almageller Alps Hotel were we had lunch, and continuing our hike up to the hut, some 2 hours further. Cloud and wind hide the summits of the Dom and Täschhorn behind.


The Almageller hut with the Dri Horlini behind.


The following morning the weather stayed a bit cloudy, but this only added interest. Sunrise on Monte Rosa (left) the Strahlhorn and the Rimpfischhorn.


The view down the South Ridge of the Weissmies.


New snow on the rock added spice to the climb.

Nearing the summit of the Weissmies.


Tony and a sea of cloud below.


The sun never quite came out, and it stayed pretty cold until we were well down the normal route.


Looking down the South Ridge from near the summit.


On the summit of the Weissmies. A large lenticular forms over the Dom and Täschhorn.


The descent down the normal Northside route included ladders spanning some rather big holes. Normally this route is pretty straightforward, but this year, the dry and hot season opened up holes where none had been before.


Tony and Mark enjoying coffee and apple strudel in the Hohsaas restaurant.


After our climb of the Weissmies, we continued to Zermatt and did the Half Traverse of the Breithorn. Riding the lift up to the Klein Matterhorn.


The Breithorn from near Trockner Steg. The Half Traverse starts in the notch on the left (gained from the other side) and climbs over the rock steps and then the snowy summits.


Tony climbing on the Breithorn. With all the new snow we were obliged to where our crampons for the entire ascent.


On the summit of the Breithorn.


After our Breithorn adventure, we decided on a short rock climb of the Jegihorn, located above Saas Grund. Here we were joined by guide and friend Michael Silitch and his guest Pete. The Jegihorn is the peak in the background and the route we did, the South Ridge closely follows the lefthand skyline.


Climbing on the Jegihorn's South Ridge.


From the Jegihorn, we set our sights on the Zinal Rothorn, a superb peak just above Zermatt. This is the Rothorn hut, a good four hour's hike up above town.


Approaching the Zinal Rothorn on summit day. The route, which climbs up to the notch in the lefthand skyline, then up the ridge, was in perfect condition.

Sunrise on the Weisshorn.


Tony on the Rothorn, with the Matterhorn in the background.


Climbing over a tower on the Rothorn.


On the summit of the Rothorn.


Well the forecast again, was not so good, with more snow and cloud. So, keeping our option open (more or less) we drove to Grindelwald and continued by train, then by foot, to the Mönchsjoch hut. We were hoping to try the Eiger's South ridge, but new snow in the night changed our plans to include the Mönch.


Tony on the summit of the Mönch, with the Eiger in the background.


Looking down the SE Ridge of the Mönch. The Finsteraarhorn is the highest peak behind.


With a bit of time left on our last day (the day we climbed the Mönch) we decided to do a little Via Ferrata on the Rotstock, a rock tower not far from the Eigergletscher station. The route climbs up into this unlikely looking notch.


Ladders, cables and other climbing aids....


Kleine Scheiddeg in the background.


The cross on the summit of the Rotstock.


Tony looks up at the Eiger's North Face from the comfort of the train to Grindelwald.

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