Larry True around the Alps • July 17- 21, 2007

Larry True from Seattle, WA and his friend Fre Bosman from Lausanne, Switzerland, planned a trip (their second) with Kathy in the Alps this year. A recent knee injury kept Fre from climbing, unfortunately, so I guess this posting is Larry's alone, in the end.

The plan was to head deep into the Bernese Oberland. Conditions and forecasts deterred us, but we did get some things done!

Other Recent Trips


We met up in Grindelwald, and took the early train up to the Jungfraujoch. The weather was fine, with the hoped-for views down the Eiger North Face from the train tunnel windows.


Our objective on this day was the Mönch's SE ridge, shown here as the right-hand skyline. The weather and conditions were excellent, though possible thunder-showers were expected later in the day.


Though high and mid-level clouds moved in as we climbed, we had plenty of time to enjoy the varied climbing on the route. Larry here surmounts a steep rock step near the summit ridge.


From the summit, great views over to the Jungfrau, and down at the cluster of techno-gadgets bristling at the Jungfraujoch in the center of the picture.


The following day was very, very warm. Despite a mostly clear night, the snow didn't freeze at all. On this short rock section of the Jungfrau, this made no difference, but the deep post-holing across the glacier and up the snowy ridge toward the Rottalsattel was very time consuming. We turned back fearing instability on steep slopes above, and also to avoid being out when the weather should turn nasty as forecast.


Loathe to continue farther into the back country given the soft glacier conditions and mediocre weather forecasts, we decided to head for the Valais and see if we could get up the Dent Blanche, a less glacier-oriented objective. We spent the night in a small hotel in the charming burgh of Evolène, whose main street is shown here. Beautiful, eccentric old houses with their carved and weathered siding and timbers, accentuate the feeling of "Old Valais" in this village (contrasted by the satellite dish! They haven't figured out yet how to make these out of wood I guess).


Newer buildings faithfully reflect the style of the old.


Our objective is the south ridge of the Dent Blanche, here seen as its right-hand skyline, more or less.


It's a lovely hike up to the Rossier hut at the base of the ridge, which is a lucky thing as it's really LONG! Here Larry approaches the boarded-up but spectacularly situated old lodge at Bricola.


The wildflowers are going nuts in all the warm, wet weather.


The colorful and welcoming prayer flags at the Rossier hut might reflect the influence of Rinji, the Nepalese assistant hut-keeper who was holding down the fort while his fellow hut-master was on a visit down below. This hut, with its exciting location and views, is a popular stop for those doing the Chamonix - Zermatt (or reverse) summer High Route.


Once again we had a difficult decision to make the following morning. More cumulus building with the dawn, thick cloud cover over the upper part of the ridge, and a cold, stiff wind, took the iron out of our spines. Better safe than sorry, we regretfully turned back once more.


We took our time on the descent, taking in the beautiful and eerie effects of the light through the clouds.


Descending the route, we look down onto the Stockji Glacier and the vicinity of the Schönbiel hut on the Zermatt side of the ridge.


Looking across at the Dent d'Hérens (in the center of this photo, could you but see it), and the Matterhorn (on the left), the light ducked in under the clouds as it rose.


Larry on the snow slopes not far above the hut.


After our long hike, we were ready to de-emphasize boots and packs, and do some rock climbing. We chose the "Voie Péroux" on the Index, near Argentière. Larry pulls the crux, with the chairlift station tiny down below.


Our route joins the "normal" SE ridge route near the summit, where we merged with the flow of traffic, shown here. A welcome sun break lent contrast to the generally misty conditions of the day.


The subject of this photo is the same as the last, I just couldn't resist firing off several shots in the contrasty light/dark of the weather on this day.


And of course, one of the interesting challenges of climbing on the Index is finding your slot among the crowds waiting for a chance to rappel off the steep back side of the summit. This group actually cleared out pretty quickly.


Somebody wondering what we find so interesting up here... a good reason to wear climbing helmets all the way down to the trail. More thunder showers found us at the chairlift station, but we were soon riding back down to town and a good meal (Indian! yum).

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