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11/09/2013 - Matterhorn Success Early August provided near perfect conditions for climbing the Matterhorn. James Gilbert .....

Matterhorn Success

11/09/2013



Early August provided near perfect conditions for climbing the Matterhorn. James Gilbert arrived from London on good form, and ready for the challenge.

We started the week easy with a gentle traverse of the Aiguille Crochue in Chamonix to blow off the cobwebs. James' balance was excellent so the next day we went for the much longer traverse of the Aiguille Perron just over the border in Switzerland. This long day involves traversing a number of rock towers, with lowers and abseils all part of the deal. James had no problem at all and we were back in Chamonix in plenty of time for dinner.

The following morning it was through the tunnel to Italy for a gentle traverse of the Entreves. The aim of the day was to get some altitude, enjoy some climbing, but allow the legs a bit of a rest from the previous day.

Day four saw us off to Switzerland and heading up the Klein Matterhorn lift before climbing the 4000m peak Pollux. Although quite an easy peak the section of fixed ropes allowed us to practise rapid ascent and descent in preparation for the fixed ropes on the Matterhorn.

Leaving the Ayas refuge the next morning we made a traverse of the Breithorn (4000m) before taking the lift down to Schwarzsee where we checked into the hotel for the night. Most groups climb the Matterhorn from the Hornli Hut but I wanted to see what it was like going from Schwarzsee. It's only 90 minutes lower on the mountain, and gives a much more comfortable night with private rooms, showers, and excellent meals. Having tried it, I can happily confirm that I don't think I will ever stay in the Hornli Hut again !

Summit day could not have gone smoother. A cool 90 minute walk to the Hornli Hut was followed by a 4hr15 summit climb. Had we not been held up in queues we would have been even quicker. Conditions on the mountain were very good, but I really do believe what made the day easy was the fact that we were in great condition. We were fit, well acclimatised, and well rested after a night of proper rest at Schwarzsee.

The Hornli Hut is closed next year for renovation, so I will be doing all my Matterhorn ascents from Schwarzsee. The mountain will be very quiet due to the hut closure, so if you've ever thought about the Matterhorn but been put off by stories of the crowds, then next year is your year to do it. Get in touch asap if you're keen - the hotel has limited capacity so I'm keen to book soon.



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