Andy Latham, Alps Alpine Climbing • August 16-23, 2004

Andy Latham of Kalamazoo, MI joined Kathy as he often does, for some climbing in Switzerland this year. We had plenty on our “wish list” as usual, and ticked some of it off. But the week started inauspiciously with a big warm storm bringing rain to the entire country.

Other Recent Trips

Hoping to duck out of the worst of the bad weather, we headed first to the Salbit hut, in the canton of Uri, near Andermatt. This is a very mountainous part of Switzerland, with tremendous vertical relief, though the summits are all low-ish by comparison with nearby ranges. What it lacks in elevation though, it more than makes up in innumerable huge walls and ridges of beautiful granite! Here we are starting up the south ridge of Salbitschen (still-damp rock and a very strong cold wind turned us around, but we swore to return.


The cozy, comfortable Salbit hut, looking very welcoming on a squally day.


The epic west ridge of Salbit, with it’s many towers, looks imposing from the south ridge.


Leaving the Salbit hut, we drove east to the Engadine for a try at Piz Bernina’s Biancograt. The weather was forecast to improve in a couple of days, which stretched to four days, but never mind! We hiked in to the Boval hut, above the confluence of the Morteratsch and Pers glaciers.


Leaving the hut in the morning, we climbed up over the Fuorcla da Boval in blowing fog, en route to climb the Morteratsch and then descend down the other side to the Tschierva hut. It felt like a big adventure, feeling our way through fog and snow or rain. These early morning rays were all we saw of the sun all day.


The following day was to have been our summit day on Piz Bernina, but the forecast clear weather was still procrastinating in arriving, so we spent the day exploring, taking photos, and relaxing in the newly renovated and very comfortable Tschierva hut.


When will these clouds ever clear out? In fact the change didn’t come until late in the evening.


At last! A clear day! Cold though, and with all the warm precipitation of the previous days, the first part of our route was coated in thick verglas. Thank goodness for the local guides’ generous use of pig iron to protect the steep rock cliff sections on the approach.


The route was in really snowy condition.


But the day was gorgeous and we were overjoyed to finally see the sun!


A fresh wind blew the new snow away from the icier sections of the Biancograt, but was not strong enough to interfere with climbing safely.


A steeper, icy step called for belays high on the ridge. Looking back down the route.


The rock scrambling among towers on the summit ridge was very, very snowy. But fortunately several previous parties that morning had helped to clear our way for us.


The view from the summit of our descent down the opposite side of the mountain, into Italy.


Andy on the descent.


The following day, our last, Andy enjoys great photo weather on Piz Palu. Piz Bernina is behind him, the Biancograt mostly hidden.

All images, layout and text ©2004 Cosley & Houston Alpine Guides, All Rights Reserved