Momi Avital • August 22 - 25, 2005

Momi Avital, from Israel, spent 5 days with Mark, hoping for a go at the Eiger, along with the Mönch and Jungfrau. Unfortunately, his arrival in Grindelwald more or less coincided with the arrival of a large and very moist storm. The center of low pressure for this storm lay just southeast of the Alps, and its counterclockwise circulation brought warm, wet, Mediterranean air around the east side of the mountain range and produced heavy and prolonged rains in the northern Alps.

The rains were so heavy that widespread flooding resulted, cutting road and rail lines to many small towns. On the morning of our first day, we looked outside through the pouring rain and could hear the boulders rumbling in the river bed. With a few phone calls we determined that the weather ought to be better in the Valais, to the south. So we packed up and, along with Kathy and her climber, Paul, drove to the Saas valley. Only hours after out departure from Grindelwald, both road and rail to this town were washed out, not to be restored for several days.

Other Recent Trips

With an early start from Grindelwald, we were able to get to Saas and still have time to hike up to the Almageller hut, in place for a climb of the South Ridge of the Weissmies. We guessed that there would be lots of new snow, but also expected that we would still be able to do the route, if the weather was reasonable.

Here, sunrise on our summit day lights up the Portunhorn.


Higher on the South Ridge of the Weissmies, we approach the summit. The day was pretty cold and windy, but generally clear.


Summit wave for the camera.


Descending from the top involved some deep snow wallowing. Fortunately, several other groups came up behind us and helped with the heavy downhill trail breaking.


Momi, Paul and Kathy descending the Weissmies.


After the Weissmies, we traveled around to the Zermatt side, hoping to do the Half Traverse of the Breithorn. A track had been broken across the glacier, but not up to the base of the route. As soon as we stepped out of the old track, to reach the start of the route, we sank into the new snow literally to mid-thigh. This clearly was not going to work.

So we changed objectives for the day and did Pollux instead. Here, Momi tackles the fixed chains on the final rock section.


A day later, and perhaps a bit wiser, we rented snowshoes and headed back to the Half Traverse. These were nearly essential for the approach and proved worth their weight several times over. I have never rented snowshoes before in the Alps but was glad to have them here. Even so, the route was still very snowy, as those of you who know this classic climb can tell from these photos.


Much of the climb that is normally rock, turned into steep soft snow climbing. This pitch, in particular was rather interesting.


Momi on the summit of the Breithorn. The weather came in the following day.

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