We flew out from Bristol to Geneva on Friday morning. On the way out we met with another alpinist, Steve and as he was travelling out to Saas Grund as well. So we all got the train and then bus out together. The first night was in Pension Heino, which was a cheap hotel offering half board. There were a number of other alpinists there and we ended up on the table with one of them.
The first peak of the week was the Lagginhorn. As the weather was good, we decided to go for it. In hindsight, not the best choice, as one night as 2800m doesn’t make a good acclimatisation strategy. We picked on following the West Ridge all the way up to try and speed things up a bit and miss out the glacier. We made fairly good time till around 3700m when we got up to the snow fields and things really started slowing down. The last few hundred meters were done Everest style, take a step, pause for breath, take a rest and then take another step. But eventually we got onto the small rock step that makes up the summit.
As I was properly acclimatised this peak went much smoother. The last part was tough, but I was able to keep on trudging for much longer. I actually enjoyed the summit properly. We go in a bit under the guidebook time, we left at 0430 and hit the summit at 0845, spent 10 minutes there before heading down. We made good time on the descent getting back to the Hosaas hut shortly before 1100. We met up with Steve and his son Ben on the descent and had a chat with them in the hut. Then the long trudge down to Kreuzboden station so we could get the monster scooters and blast down to Saas Grund. 1000m and 30 minutes later and we were back at the hotel. Well to be fair, it only took Steve 25 minutes, I’m a wimp and after a big speed wobble I backed off somewhat.
As things were getting warm and we couldn’t book into a hut, we decided on a quick trudge up the Breithorn. We got the Klein Matterhorn lift first thing in the morning and beat a path over to the western summit of the Breithorn. This one was much easier, however the very deep tracks on the way up presented their own challenge. We then negotiated the narrow snow ridge off the summit before heading back down before the snow on the glacier got to slushy. As it was it was pretty poor on the way back across.
By this point, I was pretty knackered and as the Rifflehorn had been suggested as a sport crag, we were keen to try it out. There is an AD ridge route, Skyline, so we decided on that as a introduction to AD routes for me. We got up the route pretty quickly. Sat around and had a nice lunch. We then abseiled back down the route and downclimbed the last section of the route. We thought about another route however the clouds were building over the mountains so we decided descretion was the better part of valour. After a long slog we got back down into the valley. Thankfully it didn’t start raining heavily till we got back into town.
After this we were planning on doing the Via Ferrata in Zermatt however on Saturday it rained pretty consistently. To be honest after the long week, it was nice to do nothing. However we did head out for a few celebratory beers around Zermatt on Saturday night. Then it was the long slog back to the airport and back to blighty. All in a great week.