Mike Starr in the Saas and Chamonix areas • July 25 - 29, 2010

Prior to a vacation with his family, Mike joined Mark for 5 days of climbing. With an uncertain weather forecast, we elected to begin in the Saas valley, reputed to be one of the driest places in Switzerland.

Other trips with Mike

Alps, June-July 2008
Alps, June 2009
Alps, August 2009

Return to all recent trips

We began with a hike up to the very fine Almageller hut. We were to spend two nights here. On our first full day we enjoyed very good rock climbing on the southeast face of the Dri Horlini, the large cliff behind the hut. Our first climb was called "Schmetterling", a fun 8-pitch route with climbing to about 5a in difficulty.

If you mouse over the photo above, it is the route on the right. Our second climb was "Take It Easy", a fantastic 4-pitch 5b route at the left end of the wall.


Mike on Schmetterling. In the early part of the day, the clouds would roll in and out.


Looking across to the west. Cold, fast-moving cloud engulfed the Michabel peaks.


The last moves of "Take It Easy", a great route on the west end of the wall.


That evening, the weather moved in. Rain, sleet, then snow fell during the night. We awoke at the usual 4 am breakfast time to gusts of wind and light rain. So back to bed for another couple hours of sleep. At 6 it looked as though things might be improving and we set off for the Traverse of the Weissmies.


As the sun came up we could see occasional glimpses of blue sky, though the wind was still strong out of the north. In this photo, we are looking across the sun-lit Dri Horlini, towards the Nadelhorn.


The route begins easily, though the occasionally strong gusts of wind would almost knock us over.


Looking southeast into Italy.


As we climbed higher, the wind abated considerably. There were moments one could almost call warm. Here, we are looking up the South Ridge of the Weissmies.


The Portunhorn.


On the summit of the Weissmies, back in the cloud.


And starting down the normal route.


This year, about half way down, the route crosses an impressively crevasses area.


When this collapses, the route will become even more interesting.


Looking back up the Weissmies from low on the north-side glacier.


Though our original plan was to continue climbing in the Zermatt area, a poor weather forecast suggested we would get more down in Chamonix. Driving over in the morning, we continued up the Index SW Ridge.


Most of the day, the weather was fine, though by the time we reached the summit, clouds had formed over the Mont Blanc Massif. The precipitation began that night.


With the entire north side of the Alps under drizzly gray skies, we drove south, into Italy and sunshine. In the Arnad area, we chose a climb called Dr. Jimmy, a fun 10-pitch slab affair of about 5b in difficulty.


Looking north, towards the Alps from Dr. Jimmy.


Mike on one of the upper pitches. The town of Hône below.


Typical climbing on Dr. Jimmy. It was quite warm in the intense sun. As we drove through the Mont Blanc tunnel, back into France, again we entered the drizzly gloom of the north side. A great day.