Chris Kulp, Alps Alpine Climbing • August 2-15, 2004

Once again Chris Kulp from the San Francisco Bay area joined Mark for a couple weeks of climbing in the Alps. Those of you who follow these pages will surely recognize him from numerous past trips and adventures.

This year, we had our fair share of frustrating weather, made difficult mostly because it was unsettled, with much morning clearing and afternoon showers and thunderstorms. The short morning windows of good weather were unpredictable in length and the occasional rain fell as snow at high elevations. So we did a healthy bit of rock climbing.

We did however, make a very fine ascent of the WSW Ridge of the Ober Gabelhorn, a beautiful peak just north of the Matterhorn. The traverse of this mountain, up the WSW and down the normal NE Ridge is about as "Classic" an alpine mountaineering outing as can be found anywhere.

Other Recent Trips

For our first climb, we took advantage of fine weather to climb the Eperon des Cosmiques, a fun rock climb on the the Aiguille du Midi. Though the weather looked a bit cloudy early, as seen here while we are descending the Midi enroute to the climb, it cleared up in the course of the day.


Chris on the clean granite of the Eperon.


A young Japanese climber builds a belay next to us.

After our climb of the Eperon, we rappelled the face, put on our big boots and finished with a quick but fun ascent of the Arête des Cosmiques, back in town early enough for a fine dinner.


On our second day, we did another classic Chamonix rock route, the Chapelle de la Gliere. This climb is in the Aiguilles Rouges. In this photo Chris is about to traverse the "Razor" one of the best bits of rock climbing in the area.

Clouds blowing over Mont Blanc became a common sight.


Chris on the final moves of the Chapelle. Les Praz, in the Chamonix valley can be seen far below.


On our third day we did another Aiguille Rouges climb, this one called Crakoukass. It is located up near the Brévent and offers about 8 pitches of rock along a spiney ridge.


The view from the tip of the Brévent lift station. The Bosson and Taconnaz Glaciers in the background, along with cloud hiding the higher summits.


Finally, a forecast for improving weather and our heroes jumped in the car and zipped off to Switzerland. Our objective is the Ober Gabelhorn's WSW Ridge, the left skyline as seen in this photo.

A speedy hike up to the Arben bivouac hut (located on the dark rock blob between the two lower tongues of glacier ice) and we were in position and ready to go. Rain in the night put down a skiff of new snow on the upper route, but nothing a bit of crampon scratching could not overcome.

This photo was taken a couple years ago.


A German climber and Chris hang out on the bench of the Arben bivouac hut.


The interior of the hut. When we first arrived there were only three German climbers there, but, for better or for worse, another nine arrived just at dinner time. But there was plenty of room for all, as the hut can accommodate up to about 30 climbers.


Sunrise on the Matterhorn the following day. Though there was much cloud during the climb, it came and went, and in the end, we had a lovely day.


Chris traverses on the south side of the first gendarme.


A cheval higher on the ridge.


Higher still on the WSW Ridge.


Moving right along on the Ober Gabelhorn....


...and finally nearing the summit.


We descended the normal route on the NE side. Here, we are looking back up towards the summit after coming down first rock, then snow.


The normal route on the Ober Gabelhorn includes a "bonus" ascent of the Wellenkuppe. Here we are on the summit of the Wellenkuppe. Chris contemplates the Zinal Rothorn, a peak we had done previously.


Descending the upper rocks of the Wellenkuppe.


We continued our long descent all the way down to Zermatt. Here we are not far below the Rothorn hut and only several thousand feet above town.


We stopped briefly at the Trift Hotel for a drink and a bit to eat. But in the name of excess, we continued down to Zermatt, took the train to Täsch, hopped in the car and drove all the way back to Chamonix, where we arrived about 1 am.

We took a well-deserved rest day the following day.


After our rest day we did a number of day climbs, of which I have few pictures. These included "Asia" a very fine route in the Aiguilles Rouges, a climb called "L'île aux razmokets" also in the Rouges, and a route called "le 'tit Train" on Pierre Avoi, a fine limestone rock tower high above Verbier.

After these ascents we were joined by Mike Powers (hamming it up for the camera) and went around to Italy to do a good rock climb on the Tour Ronde, the NE Ridge.


Approaching the Tour Ronde. The route ascends the orange rock of the clean buttress descending from the summit. This is a very good climb, with fine rock and quite steep at the bottom. We climbed about 6 pitches, up to the point where the difficulties ease before rappelling back to our gear at the base.

It is a good thing we did not go any higher, as afternoon storms forced an early lift closure and we just made the ride back down to civilization as it was.


This picture was taken by Mike and shows the back of my head and Chris on the first hard pitch, a sustained 5.9 steep crack climb.


Chris and Mark at the tip of the first difficult lead.


Rappelling down from the Tour Ronde.


On our last 3 days we enjoyed rock climbing at La Duchère, up high on the Brévent and also on a route called Fraise des Boâtchs. This photo was taken while we were up on the Brévent and shows the town of Chamonix.


At the end of our trip, Chris' friend Akemi joins us for for dinner at Munchies in Chamonix. The two of them then took off for another week of travel.

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