Majestic mountains with the longest alpine glacier and dramatic north faces. No north face bravado here, but the climbs are still about as hair raising and memorable as I can cope with. Apart from the adrenalin and the exposure, the heights and distances are hard to estimate and the results shattering. At least I learnt plenty of German, mainly how to cry help.
This is the Concordia Platz (the original one!). And this is the front entrance to the Concordia Hutte (well, part of it anyway). Of course, not everything in the alps is hard work. But some of the slopes are a bit steep (this one's a 60 deg, slope - no ice fortunately) for an afternoon stroll, and there are some holes rather bigger than yer average North Pennine lead mine shaft.
The idea was to get up one or two of the big ones. The Mönch has dramatic views of the Eiger (behind to the left in this picture) and a very enjoyable if initimidating snow ridge climb. And we didn't cheat by taking the train to the Jungfraujoch either - it took 3 days to get to the top from Fiesch. On top of the Mönch - Jungfrau behind.
The Jungfrau is a slightly more ambitious target, some of the moves are a bit dodgy (for a coward like me anyway), and it's a long way down. But the views from the top repay the pain and fear. The Mönch and Eiger look quite small really (well, they are), and the view of the glacier reminds you of the sweat, blood and fear of the crevasses and ice-falls. Can't imagine what the Himalayas are like, wonder if I'll ever get there?
Studies in exhaustion #1
Studies in exhaustion #2
Studies in exhaustion #3
Studies in exhaustion #4
A memorable week, it was hard to tear ourselves away. This was our last view on the descent.
Different territory altogether, in some ways harder, in some ways more remote. A lot of time spent on ice and snow, so it was always a pleasure to feel grass under our feet from time to time. The Weißkugel was hard going, and I chickened out just before the top - but the views were extensive, to say the least.
The Similaun is close to the Italian border, and turned out to be less frightening than it looked. The views were even more dramatic, the descent was not a route I would have chosen, but the Germans insisted. Crevasse-wars with attendent head-scratching seemed to be the order of the day. For some reason, everyone seemed to enjoy it - even after falling in a few times. Ropes "de rigeur".
The end of day destination was always eagerly awaited - at least by me. Here's the Hochwildehaus - one of the lower ones at a mere 2900 mt.