|Breithorn Half Traverse|
The Half Traverse of the Breithorn Crest is our favorite one-day climb from the town of Zermatt. Made so easily accessible by the Klein Matterhorn lift, the Half Traverse offers a level of climbing quality seldom found so close to the comforts of civilization.
The climb itself begins with a traverse of the glaciers below the south side of the peak, then some steeper snow (occasionally icy) to reach the col at 4022 meters and the start of the climbing on the ridge proper. From here exposed but generally easy rock mixed with short sections of snow climb up and over the three main towers of the ridge. The route finishes with an easy walk to the east summit and a traverse of the snowy, corniced crest to the slightly higher west summit.
The rock is excellent, sharp solid handhold on beautiful orange walls. But it is the sense of exposure that makes this route so special. The north side of the ridge is often vertical, and for many hundreds of feet. And usually the crest is quite narrow. In one section we climb with feet on small footholds on the south side and fingers on the north.
We descend the normal route back to the cable car.
|The Breithorn from the northwest|
The Half Traverse is easy of access and usually the route takes about 5 hours round trip from the top of the Klein Matterhorn lift. But there is some steep rock on the route, so climbers must be comfortable on challenging, very exposed terrain. Usually the snow or ice climbing is fairly straightforward.
This is a good route for intermediate climbers who have had considerable experience in rock climbing and crampon work.
Further along the ridge to the east are the twin peaks of Pollux and Castor. By staying in the Guide d'Ayas hut on the Italian side, one, or perhaps both of these can be climbed along with the Breithorn.
For the more ambitious a great combination is to keep heading east, along the "Spaghetti Tour" all the way to Monte Rosa. See out 5-day Monte Rosa Traverse for more information.
|Breithorn from the east summit|
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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