This summer saw us arriving in Zermatt to bag our first 4000er alpine peaks. Zermatt – a town of alpine horns, thronging tourists and a tiny but friendly campsite squeezed in between a garage and a building site. At 11SF a night and hot showers included it represented a rare Swiss bargain. Zermatt is car free but beware the silent electric ones which buzz around the narrow streets.
After a couple of days of acclimatisation we slogged our way up to the Gandegghutte at the top of the Zermatt valley. A typical traditional hut with an outside cold shower, plenty of food but pricey at £50 per head for half board.
The following day we tramped up the summer glacial pistes towards the Breithorn in a searing sun which was to stay with us for the rest of the trip. We weren’t prepared for the crowds of people skiing or mountaineering on the high glacial plateau pumped up in a steady current by the Kleine Matterhorn lift. Alongside the top of the lift we roped up, took in coils and ascended the Breithorn considered to be one of the easiest 4000ers in the Alps. The Breithorn ridge has several summits and we had ascended the highest point on the western end of the ridge. Our descent route took us along a narrow snow arrete down to a col and then back to the Theodulehutte where we spent the night. We spent a couple more days on the plateau and stayed at the Testa Grigio Hutte where we met a Facewest customer, Scott, who was about to ascend the Matterhorn – hope you made it Scott.
After a rest day we were later to ascend some western horns – Platthorn, Mettelhorn & Wisshorn which are long walks from Zermatt but no special equipment needed.
Finally we ascended Alphubel. This was probably the best day we had. After a true alpine start from the Taschhutte at 4.20am, we ascended the steep snowslopes of the peak via the south ridge. The panorama of the Wisshorn, Matterhorn, Breithorn, Monte Rosa massif, Rimpfischhorn and Allalinhorn standing out against the crisp blue early morning sky was unforgettable. The Black Diamond Raven grip ice axes had performed brilliantly as also had the lightweight Beal Rando rope. We descended via the ski route down the eastern face crossing a couple of crevasses and back to Zermatt. The views east across to the Saas Fee lift complexes from the summit planting the germ of an idea for a future ski touring trip.