Its a long drive home from the Alps, especially as there’s lots of time to reflect on what we did or didnt get done. Our recent Alpine hit wasa mix of weather and difficult decision making but all in all I enjoyed this recent adventure in the company of good friends.
Getting started on some easy peaks to ensure good acclimatisation Ken, Hannah and I went to Arolla. We were aiming for SW Ridge of L’Eveque, Pigne de Arolla & Mont Blanc de Cheilon which can all be linked by a multi day traverse. After staying the night in the Bouquetin Bivi Hut, which is excellent by the way, we were met by very Scottish damp and murky conditions more akin to Scotland than the Swiss Alps! Bypassing L’Eveque we wandered over a snowy lump at 3500m for some height before descending toward the Vignette Hut for the night. The following day we traversed over the snow dome of Pigne de Arolla and onto the entertaining Mont Blanc de Cheilon traverse which is a great value for the grade. The weather in and around Arolla looked mixed so we set off for Chamonix and onto a classic rock route high in the Aiguilles Rouges.
Following this acclimatisation trip, Hannah went climbing with Dave and Harry. Ken and I had our own plans, all we needed was the weather; and that was the problem. It was neither good nor bad for a period of about a week with sporadic lightening storms mixed in with some unreliable weather forecasting. We spent some time walking in and abandoning plans or cragging at nearby multipitch venues. Which was fun but not really what we had hoped for. Time ticked by so we reacclimatised on The Grand Cornier which quite shockingly was guarded by some very steep black glacier ice that warranted more than our toffee axes offered. Staying up high Ken and I traversed over the Bouquetin, Pigne de Le and onto the Aiguille de Le which was an excellent consolation prize taking in high level exposed ridge scrambling above the Lac de Moiry.
Plans changed daily and in the end we settled for a traverse of the Zinalrothorn via the Rothorngrat and down the North Ridge. This was brilliant fun with a heavily crevassed glacier to negotiate before dawn which Ken took the lead and cruised through. Followed by a nice snow couloir leading to a long rocky ridge: The Rothrongrat. The climbing itself isnt hard but it just keeps coming. It was great fun making sure we were slick, staying well ahead of other parties. The descent of the classic North Ridge was just as fun and luckily our timing meant meeting just one bottle neck which we managed to squeeze through.