Oct 12 10
We spent four wonderful days with climbing in the Monte Rosa group.
We set out with three of my climbing partners and our goal was to bag the most possible peaks. We departed from Staffal and since the lifts don’t operate any more we had to climb all the 12km and 1800m altitude up to the Gnifetti House at 3647m!
We take the route marked which takes to the house along the ski pistes.
The distance is slowly decreasing, the hills are getting closer and closer the landscape changes from pine to cows and the sounds of their bells and donkeys.
We climb the last 1.5km and 100m altitude in a pretty knackered state in the 30kph wind. 9 hours after out departure we arrive in the Gnifetti house.
As the house is closed just like the lift, we go into the winterraum.
It is surprisingly cozy, it has two rooms, the kitchen first, nicely stocked, and a real luxury, a gas cooker! Our refuge is not empty, we share the first night with two Spanish climbers.
For the following day we plan some easier peaks, Piramide Vincent (4215m), and Giordani (4048m).
Before we take a rest we melt ice and snow, eat a bit of dinner and explore our temporary home.
After breakfast we start at about 8.30 but Imre doesn’t feel well so only three of us. We start towards the viaferrata which we took up to the house not even considering the other, original walk-in route. This way we make a little detour but the route is safer, there are less and smaller crevasses. Though a covered crevasse tricks Orsi, and swallows the beauty up to the knees! As we get past the crevasses our route gets steeper and steeper.
The landscape is breathtaking!
Serac-monsters are grinning at us on our right, and there crevassed snow-fields on our left, with the unforgettable peaks of Lyskam!
Our goal is the Piramide Vincent and then the Giordani. Orsi doesn’t come with us, she chooses the Balmenhorn (4167m) and waits for us in the bivouac there. The Piramide is a really pleasant trekking peak, it’s easy to get up, you only have to walk. When we get up we walk on on the ridge, hoping that we can get over to the Giordani from here. But we must get to a halt. The route seemed somehow simpler on the map. But in reality we stand on top of a steep wall. We should abseil from here and thenk climb first onto a smaller, then a larger, exposed ridge.
The snowy Piramide on the right, the Giordani Ridge in the middle.
I didn’t plan with such a big tour and it wouldn’t be wise to go from here but from the other side. From there we would ’only’ have to climb up on not too compact rock. We are not prepared to do that at the moment so we miss it out. We decide to go down the way we came up and join Orsi in the bivouac.
An easy diagonal traverse takes us up to Blamenhorn, with a fairly wide crevasse at the end but it has a thick enough snowbridge for crossing.
The bivouac is rather like the winterraum of the Gnifetti house than a classic tin bivouac. It has almost the same size, 4 beds and there’s even a kitchen! Moreover, even a toilet which is not hard to sniff out. After some rest we go back to the Gnifetti. It’s 2.30pm, the snow is not so nice but still well walkable.
The next day we depart at 5am. Today the team is complete, everyone’s in good form. As now it’s early, we try the other route with more crevasses. Miki goes in the front and dictates a mad pace as he wants to be over the dangerous part fast.
The Lyskam is spectacular at dawn too!
For the three of us the route is familiar but now we don’t climb up the Piramide Vincent but only walk along under it. It looks really wonderful in the early morning light.
We go as far as the Blamenhorn that we reach quite fast, in 3 hours.
After a little more than half hour’s rest we go on towards our goal, to the peak of Como Nero (PD, 4321m)
An easy (F) route leads up to the foot of the peak and then the snowy peak framed by rocks. Miki, dazzled by the awaited challenge, starts walking up right away.
The three of us rope up and start the exciting, wonderful route together arount 9am. There are good steps made on the 50° wall, and the snow is still good so we are making good progress. We sit down on the rocky peak and enjoy the views for a while before we go down. (Video: Corno Nero Climbing)
Then we pick up our sacks and start N-NW towards our next victim, the Luswigshöhe (4341m).
We get up fast to this peak, it’s only a few metres higher than its nearby neighbour but the route is much easier (F).
The ridge of Ludwigshöhe.
From the ridge we have a great view on the peaks climbed earlier. The Como Nero is getting out of the snowfield like a giant shark.
Piramide Vincent on the left, Como Nero in the middle.
From here we go on towards Parrot Spitze.
This peak is a real challenge (PD).
Orsi doesn’t continue with is, she starts towards the Signalkuppe, going around Parrot in its left and waits for us in the saddle.
Our way is getting more and more exposed!
The ridge, a real sharp edge is only one footstep wide at some places and it feels like a beam exercise at 4400 metres!
The challenge is in keeping the balance that needs deep concentration (which is not easy leaning on an axe, with the sack on my back and the 1.5kg camera).
I catch up with Miki. Here at the peak we are standing safer, we are on a cornice.
It is exactly noon, the sun is brightly shining, the view is breathtaking.
From here we can see all the peaks we climbed and even the Matterhorn.
Then we start to descend.
First we get under a small rock face, then we cross a narrow snow-bridge and then to the left down a snowhill to the saddle to Orsi. We discuss wht’s next as we sit here at the foot of the Signalkuppe.
We took a rest here, deciding about how to go on.
After much hesitation we decide not to do it and start descending further in the already melting snow. On our way back we can see again the beautiful snow formations of this wonderful place.
Before we reach the crevasses we rope up again, this time I lead. A bit further down where Orsi almost disappeared 2 days ago there’s a large hole. We take the obstacles one after the other, the house is now close. After a short viaferrata we are in the house once again.
The next morning we don’t get up too early so we only depart at 10. We start our big march down. The last third is quite agonizing, the knees start aching and the feet going dead.
We descend slowly to the parking lot and at 15.40 we are at the car and in 20 minutes we start our long drive home.
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