RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 46 Number 1 Article 4

February 2009

Saas 4000s

Peter Devlin

September 2008

Rachel, Terry, Richard H, Richard G and I joined Pelle Bagewitz and Marty Beare for the Saas 4000s course the first week in September.

We started out with a gentle day doing the via Ferrata on the Jegihorn: nice easy scrambling with fabulous exposure and stunning views of the Weissmiess was breathtaking. Climbing together on a rope while clipping in to the hardware felt strange. The last scramble up to the summit (3200m) was an easier grade so we didn't bother clipping in, but moved together on the rope. I was certainly aware of the altitude as I was puffing more than I would have been doing similar in Snowdonia.

The next day we walked up to the Almageller hut: highlights were Pelle making the wire bridges bounce and the Rosti with bratwurst for lunch on the way. Tuesday saw an earlyish start before dawn to climb the Weissmiess from the south. Above a snowfield we came to the ridge: this scrambling was easy with fabulous views across to the Mischabel view. We were going fast enough that I didn't have time to get spooked by the exposure. Again, moving together over rough ground while maintaining the right tension on the rope kept me focused. Soon we were on the snowfield at the top, putting on our crampons and having a brief rest. Starting off again we came to a snow

ridge half a meter wide with respectable drops on both sides. An intense dialogue broke out in my head arguing the pro's and con's of this madness. In the end the rational voice argued that I'd been walking for years and as long as I didn't trip over my crampons I would

live. Soon we were on the summit, enjoying fabulous views of the snowfields on the north side of the mountain. The walk down was a joy.

The next day the weather was supposed to be aweful so Pelle had managed our expectations down in terms of summiting the Lagginhorn, but we made a start. Halfway up he decided we had a shot at the weather holding, so breaks were going to be kept to a minimum. The scrambling on the Lagginhorn ridge was excellent, but the snow field at the top felt extremely exposed. Fortunately the weather held all day and mid afternoon saw us luxuriating in the Hohsaas restaurant at the top of the cable car.

Thursday was an easy day, more of a dander to the Britannia hut having done 2 4000m peaks in 2 days. The weather was dreadful so we did rope skills in the hut. Before bed we agreed that if weather permitted we would get up at 4 to do the Hohlaubgrat route of the Allalinhorn. At 3am I woke up to go to the toilet and we were still in cloud, but there was still thunder and lightening. At 5.30 I woke up and concluded

that the Hohlaubgrat route was off and went back to sleep. At 6 Marty woke us to say the weather had cleared and we were doing the normal route of the Allalinhorn. This route is a snow trudge start to finish, so though I was tired, and my breathing wasn't great due to

a mild chest cold, it was just a question of getting on with it. Before too long we were having our photos taken on the summit and we were heading back down to the valley for "tea and medals" ... or maybe the Saas Fee equivalent of a lovely pizza in picturesque surroundings.

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