Consuelo Gaspar & Rob McNeill in the Alps • July 7 - 16, 2010

Rob and Consuelo, from Calgary, decided to spend their summer vacation in Europe, visiting friends, Paris, and even doing a bit of alpine climbing. They spent 10 days with Mark wandering between the alpine centers of Chamonix, Saas Fee and Zermatt.

We enjoyed generally very good weather, quite hot, but with occasional afternoon thunderstorms. But by adjusting objectives to avoid the worst of the weather, we were able to climb every day, except for one used for a rather rainy approach to the Britannia hut.

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Starting on the Arete des Cosmiques is seldom a bad idea. The route was quite crowded, however. But the weather was fine and we had plenty of time to enjoy the views.


We took a slightly harder variation for part of the route - fun and empty of other climbers.

On our second day we climbed the Chapelle de la Gliere in the Aiguilles Rouges. Unfortunately, I experienced a hard drive crash and lost the photos from that day.


On day three we headed back up into the high mountains, this time to the East Arete of the Pyramid du Tacul. This is a fantastic climb on incredibly good rock. Some 10 pitches in length, and at a difficulty of about 5.7-8, it is simply "tip-top".

Mouse over to show the climbing route as well as the rappel stations for descent.


Hiking over to the Pyramid in the early morning.


Rob on what is arguably the crux pitch, a series of steep flakes with little for the feet.


After the climb we cross, again, the rather crevassed entry onto the glacier.

On our fourth day, we also climbed l'Y route on the Miroir d'Argentine, a giant limestone slab in Switzerland. Again, I don't have any photos from that day, as I forgot to pack my camera. Dhhhh!


And on day five we changed venue and moved over to the Saas valley. Or first objective, the Hohlaubgrat on the Allalinhorn, seen here. On this day, we took a leisurely start from Chamonix, had a fine lunch in Saas Fee, rode the lifts up to Felskinn and did the final 45 minute walk to the Britannia hut in the afternoon rain.

Mouse over to see the route. The Britannia hut is just out of view to the left. Saas Fee is down to the right. I show a portion of the descent route (on the right) that leads to the Allalin Station and the "Metro Alpin" back to Felskinn and then the valley.

This photo was taken from across the valley, on the Weissmies, which we climbed later in the trip.


Another view of the Hohlaubgrat, from the Allalin Station. The route is the skyline.


Patterns in the snow, just below the Britannia hut.


The evening sun from the Britannia hut. The Weissmies is the big peak in the center of the photo.


Sunrise on our ascent of the Hohlaubgrat. Despite the large number of other climbers in the hut, we got ahead of the pack and had a nice, tranquil ascent.


The upper Hohlaubgrat. Mouse over to see the route.


Another party behind us, the only people near us on the ascent.


Climbing the two pitches of rock near the summit.


And, the obligatory summit photo.


We were back down in Saas quite early. So ever ambitious, we hoofed it on over to Zermatt, and still had time for a lunch and a trip down the Gorner Gorge, the "Gorge Adventure" as the local Alpin Centre likes to call it.


Amusing, but admittedly, quite slippery on the polished rock.


The finish takes in part of the very old walkway once used by unroped tourists.


Now on our seventh day, we enjoyed a relaxing climb of Kante, a very fun 5-pitch route on the South Face of the Riffelhorn. This shot is from near the base of our route, looking east with the shoulder of the Riffelhorn on the left and part of Monte Rosa on the right.


Rob belays while Consuelo records the proceedings.


Rob on one of the upper pitches.


Consuelo poses against the impressive backdrop.


And the day finishes with a very nice hike down to Riffelberg. Behind is the Obergabelhorn on the left and the Zinal Rothorn on the right.


Day eight, it must be the Breithorn Half Traverse. Looking across the Breithorn plateau to the summits of Pollux and Liskamm.


The Half Traverse is a great climb, one of our favorites. Great rock, impressive exposure and non-stop fantastic views.


Moving along the exposed crest about half way up the route.


One of the more interesting bits.


The clouds begin to encroach as we get close to the final section.


And the last tower, offering a few tricky moves.


On the summit, in the mists.


For our last two days, eight and nine, we headed up to the Almageller hut and the Weissmies, seen here. Leaving Zermatt fairly early, and hiking up to the hut quickly, we had time to also do the wonderful traverse of the Dri Hornli, a rock route not far from the hut.

Mouse over to see the various routes. The Weissmies was traversed right to left up the South Ridge and down the glaciated north side. The Dri Hornli is the small peak next to the hut.

This photo was taken from our climb of the Allalinhorn.


The Almageller hut with the Dri Hornli behind. The Traverse starts on the left skyline and continues along the ridge to the summit, out of view on the right.


Great rock and exposed positions.


The final slab on the last tower.


Easy scrambling leads back down to the hut. We made it with plenty of time to spare before dinner. The Strahlhorn, the Rimpfischhorn and the Allalinhorn are the big peaks behind.


And on day ten, we traversed the Weissmies. Here a group of climbers takes the snow slope east of the ridge.


Climbing on the fun, blocky ridge of the Weissmies.


The route finishes with a fine snow arete. in a dream...


The summit was rather busy, with all the climbers coming up the normal route from Hohsaas. We didn't stay long, wanting to take advantage of the still-firm snow for our descent.


Heading down the normal route of the Weissmies. The big peaks of the Mischabel Group behind, the Alphubel, Täschhorn and Dom.


One final glance at the upper slopes of the Weissmies.