Zermatt's Schwarztor and Strahlhorn • May 2 - 5, 2013

Bill Pearson, from somewhere between California and Nevada, made a quick trip to the Alps for some end-of-the-season touring. With several revisions to the planned itinerary due to weather and such, we finally settled on two 2-day outings, the first including the Schwarztor above Zermatt and the second a ski up the 4190 meter Strahlhorn, near Saas Fee.

Other Trips with Bill

Silvretta, March 2007
Berner Oberland, May 2006

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Here's Bill finally enjoying some good snow and sunshine on the descent of the Strahlhorn, our last day.


Back to day 1.... As our poor luck would have it, the Klein Matterhorn lift was closed for "technical reasons", so we had to start our tour from the Plateau Rosa, adding another 400 meters to what would turn out to be a rather long day.


Traversing below the south side of the Breithorn we found an impressively large pile of recent avalanche debris.


With recent fresh, very wind-blown snow, ours were the only tracks down the Schwarztor.


As the day wore on, however, our team started to experience some rather severe GI problems. Rather than continue to the Monte Rosa hut, as originally planned, we opted for a return to Zermatt.


In the very late season, the Schwarztor exit requires some boulder hopping and scrambling to get past the gorge. The weather is chasing us down-valley.


In the end, it was a good thing to return to town, as the weather the following day (no photos) was pretty rotten the entire day. This photo, however, was taken from our hotel balcony on the morning of day 3.


The ascent of the Strahlhorn necessitates an overnight in a hut, in our case the Britannia hut. And at the end of the season, when the Saas Fee ski complex shuts down, there is only one lift to help you on your way, the Felskinn cable car. It runs only one time each day, at 4:30 pm.

So virtually everyone heading to the hut was on that lift. And the hut was full that night.


The skies cleared at night and we had a beautiful start to our day. The Strahlhorn is the peak on the left. Down on the glacier you can just make out the head lamps of the early-birds.


Gearing up for the departure from the Britannia hut.


Sunrise on the Spechhorn, which lies on the Swiss-Italian border.


And on the Strahlhorn.


Skiing up the Allalingletscher with the Rimpfischhorn above.


First rays of the day on the Allalingletscher.


Looking back down the track. The Weissmies behind.


The final few steps on the Strahlhorn, 4190 meters.


Bill looking happy about the upcoming descent.


And it certainly was something to be happy about. The first turns off the summit.


Fantastically fun skiing, all the way down the glacier.


Clouds building up in Italy.


And after a very long descent, some 2500 meters (8200 feet) of it we run out of snow just as we arrive in Saas Fee.

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