High above Saas Almagell, overlooking the valley is the Almagelleralp, a high alp at the foot of the Weissmies, the Portjengrat and the Dri Horlini. The Horlini are, as the name might suggest, three towers, or horns, set in a row on a rock ridge that seems to have grown out of the alp.
The rock is a highly featured, course grained granite, orange, yellow and gray. It is great climbing. And to make it all more fun, the Almageller hut is only minutes from the base of the Horlini. There are many routes on this fin of fine rock. So many, in fact that the hut has published a little topo guide. By far the most popular and longest route is the Traverse, a ridge climb over the summits of the three horns and the other gendarmes of the crest.
The climb is not especially difficult, and we often do it in mountaineering boots as training for other, bigger summits. There are a few thin sections, however, also exposed, that require some careful thought and climbing skill.
With an early morning start from Saas Almagell in the valley, we can arrive at the hut and still have time to do the Traverse. Or for a more leisurely pace, do the hut approach one day and the traverse the next.
The Horlini, the Protungrat and the South Ridge of the Weissmies are what make the Almageller hut a great destination. A very fine three for four day outing is to hike up to the hut, climb the Horlini, either on the first day of the second. Follow this with the Portjengrat, returning to the hut again, then on the last day traverse the Weissmies up the South Ridge and down the Normal Route returning to the valley via the Hohsaas lift.
|Almageller hut and Dri Horlini|
While there are many routes on the Horlini, some of them quite difficult, the traverse of the crest is perhaps 5.6 at the hardest, though we normally climb in mountaineering boots, which increases the difficulty somewhat. The route is not overly long and perhaps take 4 hours from hut to hut. Combining the hut approach hike with the Horlini traverse is a moderately big day, and an early start from the valley is advised.
Climbers need to be fairly fit, and have experience on 5th class rock climbing. There is considerable exposure on many parts of the route, so a head for heights is necessary.
We almost always combine the Dri Horlini with an ascent of the Portjengrat and/or the Weissmies South Ridge.
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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