Paul Stillman • August 22 - 26, 2005

Paul Stillman of Bolton, CT spent 6days with Kathy. They met in Grindelwald, and had planned an odyssey over the Aletsch Glacier, hoping to take in the Mönch, Jungfrau, and Finsteraarhorn among others, and crossing several high passes. Arriving at the same time as Momi Avital (see his recent trips page), Paul and Kathy were affected by the same enormous and very wet storm that kept Mark and Momi from the Eiger. 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 Mark and Momi, 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

In retrospect, we dubbed this trip "Escape from Grindelwald". Having heard from the Almageller Hut keeper that the sun was already making an appearance there, we made for Saas Almagell. We took a short detour to Lauterbrunnen to see the waterfalls at their fiercest. Highway workers with shovels kept a wary eye on irrigation ditches already brimming. Little did they know what the next 24 hours would bring! The main road and railway to Grindelwald washed out in several places and remained closed for many days, stranding tourists who had to be evacuated by helicopter. About a week later we returned to see many of these green fields buried under great washes of mud and boulders, which will probably take months to clear up.

Low lying orchards and yards along the roadside were already flooding as we drove down valley to Interlaken. The road and train track up to Kandersteg were closed due to the flooding, so we went by the long road through Bern.


After our drive to Saas Almagell, we hiked to the Almageller hut, along with Mark and Momi. One of the few places in the Alps with relatively calm weather, we were not alone! Nevertheless there was still a lot of new snow on the South Ridge of the Weissmiess, seen here in the early morning light.


Paul, Mark and Momi making their way up the route. Behind, the Strahlhorn and Monte Rosa.


A stiff and biting wind didn't diminish the reward of clear, sunny skies on the summit. Paul poses for Mark's summit shot.


The descent down the untracked (for a change!) West Face "normal" route was harder than the way up, with new snow knee to mid-thigh deep, stiff and wind-blown.


Mark and Momi picking their way down the heavily glaciated West Face route.


Parting company with Mark and Momi, Kathy and Paul continued on with an ascent of the Allalinhorn in perfect weather (the Weissmiess with its South Ridge on the right hand skyline to the left of Paul in this photo) ...


Followed by the Alphubel via the Fee Kopf decked with new snow, and Alphubel's East Ridge, snaking up behind in the extreme right of this photo.


The social aspect of climbing can be the best part! Here Paul shares a typical Swiss "berg heil" with a party of three young Swiss and Austrian women.


Back in Saas Fee, a toast and a good meal, over which we begin to plan future adventures... Prost!

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