Ken Seamon, Alps Climbing • June 26 - July 1, 2006

In late June, Ken Seamon was back for the third year in a row to climb with Kathy in the Swiss Alps. Their plan was to do the "Monte Rosa Traverse", AKA "Spaghetti Tour", taking in several of the peaks running along the border between Switzerland and Italy that overlook Zermatt. Very hot and sunny weather made for pleasant climbing in many ways, but the freezing level remained so high for so long that soft and un-consolidated snow conditions persisted on the glaciers. The result was much post-holing in deep snow, as well as tenuous bridging of the crevasses, with perhaps predictable results!

Other Recent Trips


Day 1 was spent traversing the long glacier route to the Rifugio delle Guide d'Ayas in very deep, soft snow. Despite an early start on day 2, the snow had really only cooled off and was vaguely "stiff", far from frozen. Here Ken is approaching Castor. Although I (Kathy), at 5'3", tried my best to break a good trail, Ken at over 6' still punched through much more often and more deeply than I did. His stoicism and patience were admirable!


Another result of the size inequality! Ken broke through a snow bridge that I had blithely walked across. Characteristically undaunted, Ken had already placed an ice screw, clipped himself into it, and was enthusiastically taking pictures of his unusual surroundings by the time a nearby party of helpers approached and prepared the lip, taking this photo while I set up the haul system. With their help, the extrication was very fast and easy.


Snow conditions improved as we head up the steeper, north-facing slopes of Castor. A German group leads the way.


The summit ridge of Castor in early morning sunshine and light "traffic".


The following night, at the Quintino Sella hut, brought a thunderstorm so intense and widespread that the lightning strikes were coming at a sustained rate of several strikes per second for several hours. In the morning it was still snowing, and the hut settled in to wait out the day. However the weather cleared off around 7am, and everyone started across the "Naso del Liskamm" much later than they had hoped, wallowing in even softer, wetter and sloppier snow than the day before! This was a long day of heavy going, but beautiful weather set in by mid afternoon. Here our German friends head down the home stretch ahead of us toward the Mantova hut.

At this hut, another intense evening squall–brief this time–dropped hailstones the size of ping-pong balls.


The following day was very wet and "mossy". Taking advantage of a generous offer by a French guide and his party to give us a lift, we descended to Gressonney in Italy and drove with them to Chatillon in the Val d'Aoste. From there a bus took us up to Cervinia whence we were able to take the telepherique back up to the Theodul Pass dividing Italy and Switzerland above Zermatt. After a pleasant night spent in a hut there, Ken is seen here approaching the Breithorn Half-Traverse in –FINALLY–perfect, beautifully frozen snow conditions and cool, crisp weather.


Such a relief to be on the surface consistently for a change!


Ken approaches the rock section of the traverse.


Snowy, but great conditions on the ridge!


We spent our last day climbing on the Riffelhorn, across from the Breithorn, Castor and Liskamm The weather continued beautiful.


Looking down the lovely upper pitches of "Kante" onto the Gornergletscher.


Heading back to the train, and down to Zermatt for a beer at the end of a lovely day.

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