8 days, 11 summits: Mihai Iancu from Chamonix to the Engadine • August 31 - September 8, 2013

Mihai Iancu, now living in Washington State, joined Mark for 8 big days of alpine climbing. We began in the Chamonix area with the Eperon des Minettes on the Aiguille du Peigne. Wasting no time, we zipped through Zermatt, climbing Pollux, Castor, the Traverse of the Liskamm, Zumsteinspitze, Dufourspitze and Nordend. Finally, with the four days remaining of good weather, we climbed the Biancograt on Piz Bernina and finished with the North Ridge of the Piz Badile.

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Day 1, Mihai on the Aiguille du Peigne.


The last steep pitch that leads up to the spectacular summit ridge of the Peigne.


And the first of several rappels on the descent, this one, right off the summit.


On our second day, we drove to Täsch, took the train to Zermatt, the lifts to the top of the Klein Matterhorn, and then continued (on foot, by now) to the summits of Pollux and Castor before descending to the Sella hut for the night. Mihai on the summit of Pollux.


A view of Castor from the top of Pollux. You can see the up-track.


Our summit number 3, Castor.


Looking towards Liskamm from our descent of Castor.


Funky sunrise clouds as we climb up towards Liskamm on Day 3.


The west summit of Liskamm, summit number 4. A chilly northeast wind blew, but the weather to the west looked clear.


Looking towards the east, and highest, summit.


A bit of the Liskamm ridge, actually one of the easier sections.


Easy climbing up to the east summit.


Some of the new snow had drifted in deeply, and occasionally the going was not so easy.


The obligatory pose on the summit of Liskamm, number 5.


Looking down the east ridge of Liskamm. You can just make out three dots along the crest, another group of climbers.


Looking east. The summit of the Signalkuppe, with the Margherita hut, is hidden in the cloud.


Looking back to the Liskamm east summit from near the Margherita hut. Mouse over the image to see the route down.


The rather impressive ridge crest that runs east from the Signalkuppe towards Punta Tre Amici. Signalkuppe would be summit number 6.


The Zumsteinspitze and Dufourspitze in the late afternoon light, from the Margherita hut. Mouse over the image to see the line up the Zumsteinspitze, then down into the notch, and back up the Dufourspitze.


Everybody comes out to watch the sunset.


A lovely view, indeed.


On the morning of Day 4 we traversed the Zumsteinspitze, seen here (summit number 7) before continuing up the Dufourspitze.


Looking north towards Nordend from the top of the Dufourspitze. Mouse over to see the route.


Looking back towards the Dufourspitze from the summit of Nordend. (Summits 8 and 9, respectively). Mouse over to see the route down the Dufour, and the route coming towards us up the Nordend, and also the very start of the descent down to the Monte Rosa hut.


An amusing passage on the glacier on the descent to Zermatt.


A very long Day 4 ends in a comfortable hotel in Zermatt.


Not slowing down much, on Day 5 we drive to Pontresina, in the Engadine, and hike into the Tschierva hut. Our goal for the next day is the famous Biancograt on Piz Bernina.


On the walk into the Tschierva hut.


Piz Bernina from the below the Tschierva hut. The hut can bee seen left of center. The route for the next day closely follows the left-hand skyline.


Finally, sunrise on Day 6, just above the Fuorcla Prievlusa.


Looking up the Biancograt on Piz Bernina. The route was in absolutely perfect condition.


The last winding part of the Biancograt.


Looking to the summit of Piz Bernina from the Piz Bianco (I didn't include Piz Bianco in our summit count for fear of losing credibility.) Crampons the whole way to the top.


And summit number 10, Piz Bernina.


The long descent down the Fortezza and on (up) to Diavolezza.


Still on Day 6, we take the train back to Pontresina, jump in the car and drive to the Hotel Pranzaira, near Vicosoprano.


With time and a good weather forecast both running short, we felt the only sensible option was to get up ridiculously early the next day (Day 7) and climb the North Ridge of the Piz Badile from the car park.


First sunlight on the upper part of the Nordkante.


Climbing up into the sun on the Badile.


Higher on the ridge.


Typical climbing on the upper part of the ridge.


Almost to the summit now.


Summit 11, Day 7, the Piz Badile.


Looking east towards the Sciora Dafora and Punta Pioda.


Other climbers on the North Ridge of the Badile. There were 2 other teams on the route that day, as well as a couple other teams on the harder routes of the NE face.


And finally, not even too late in the afternoon, we unrope at the start of the easy walk down to the Gianetti hut.


Sunset of Day 7, the summit rocks of Piz Badile.


Mouse over to seen the descent route on the Badile.


No summits on our last day, Day 8, on which we simply hiked down from the Gianetti hut, took a taxi back to our car in Bondo, and continued into Italy and family visits in Europe for Mihai, and a relaxing break at home for Mark.


The peaks of the Val Masino. Mouse over for labels and move the scroll bar to see more of this long panorama shot.


Back down in civilization at the hotel at the Bagni del Masino.

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