Nick Grossoehme in and around Saas Fee • July 2 - 7, 2007

Nick Grossoehme took some time between finishing his PhD and starting a new position in Indiana, to do some climbing in the Alps with Kathy. An experienced hiker and explorer, the high mountains were new to him, so we planned a glacier odyssey over the Monte Rosa Traverse.

Alas, the weather didn't allow that itinerary, so we opted to take in some less-committing peaks in the Saas Fee area, ones from which we could retreat if necessary, and adjust our plans as the forecast and conditions changed.

Other Recent Trips


Our first morning was quite rainy, so we took in the "Klettersteig" in Zermatt's Gorner Gorge. Equiped with cables, ladders, in-situ logs, tarzan swings and zip lines, this muscle powered fun-ride is great entertainment. The rain didn't bother us on this outing, we knew we were going to get wet and muddy anyway!


Nick negotiates the slippery rock, self-belayed by dynamic slings in case of a misstep, as the water roars below.


The following day we moved around to Saas Almagell, and hiked up to the Almageller hut, hoping for good enough weather to climb the South Ridge of the Weissmies the following morning. We had enough time in the afternoon to do a 4 pitch rock route on the nearby Dri Hornli, but Kathy took no photos! Here Nick steps outside the hut to enjoy a break in the weather.


The morning dawned foggy and drizzly, the snow soggy and unfrozen. Still, in the spirit of "putting ourselves in a position to get lucky", we headed up to the col to see if there would be any change in the first hour or two of the day. The only change was the marked increase in the wind as we gained elevation! Here Nick braves powerful gusts at the ridge crest, bracing his feet on the icy rocks.


A quick retreat back to Saas Almagell, a bus ride up to Saas Fee, and lifts back up to the comfortable Britannia hut. After lunch we got outside in the blizzard again to play with ropes and pullies in the relative shelter of the leeward side of the hut. We "rescued" ourselves from the fire escape and got plenty wet. What fun!


The next morning wasn't much better, unfortunately, but we did manage to climb the Alalinhorn, taking the long way up (sans subway) and getting a jump on the crowds. We got to break trail all the way up to the col! Yipee! Actually it was quite fun. Here's Nick, playing Husky in the deep snow. The first parties exited the lift station about a half hour after this shot was taken.


The crowds did catch us near the summit, as we groped around in the fog. We all arrived together, and took turns doing the photography honors. Kathy and Nick pose for the shot...


Portrait with hoar frost...


After descending to Saas Almagell for a well-earned shower and bed, the following morning we headed up to the Hohsaas hut. Arriving by 9:30, we had plenty of time to hike down to the Jegihorn, and climb a 13-pitch rock route, "Alpendurst". The route more or less follows the red line here. This was Nick's first multi-pitch route! (or rather, his second. His first was two days back on the Dri Hornli). Quite a long route for an introduction!


Nick likes the space below his feet. Great views to the Mattmark reservoir in the distance on the left, and of Saas Fee just in view on the right.


Reaching the top, the route name is painted in red, in case you wondered whether you got off route somewhere down below. The sun is out at last! Although the breeze was still brisk and gusty. Still, a good day on the rock.


The morning of our last day, the weather finallly is what we had hoped for all week: clear and cloudless, a cold but light wind, good freezing conditions on the glacier. Here we see the Mischabel ridge across the way as we start out up the Weissmies. From left to right: Alalinhorn, Feechopf, Alphubel, Tasch and Dom, Lenspitze and Nadelhorn.


In fact all the storms have left the high glaciers in excellent conditions for the time of year. We look back up the steep summit slopes as other parties climb by on their way to the top.


Our patience finally rewarded, we enjoy the views from the top.


A very fast walker, Nick is ready to head down for "second breakfast"! We were off the glacier well before the sun's heat started to soften the snow.


Back in Saas Almagell, we enjoyed a last lunch together (Fondue! Yum!) before parting company; Kathy back to Chamonix and Nick on to Austria. I hope he'll be back in the Alps again one day, for a break from the Midwestern Plains.

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