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End of season summits: Weissmies traverse, Mt. Blanc de Cheillon traverse, Gran Paradiso

With shadows lengthening and becoming more defined on the alpine landscape, fresh snow dusts the summits and the leaves change colour as the mornings come with a crisp freshness and the shy sun takes early refuge behind the horizon, leaving the natural world to dance on its last touches of warmth before the darkness lays down its cold, calm blanket.

The autumn can be one of the most pleasant times to climb in the Alps. With decent weather one can climb the classic summer routes and with the new snow and colder temperatures it is often an ideal time to climb some of the steeper ice gullies or north faces in the Mont Blanc range.

The end of the summer and early autumn have included the following ascents:

Weissmies traverse

This is an aesthetic and varied traverse of moderate difficulty on one of the 4000m summits surrounding the Saas valley.

sunrise above the Allmageller Hut, nearing the start of the climbing

sunrise above the Allmageller Hut, nearing the start of the climbing

the Mischabel chain across the valley just after sunrise

the Mischabel chain across the valley just after sunrise

The exceptionally snowy summer makes it possible for teams to gain more height on the snow than is possible in most years.

The exceptionally snowy summer makes it possible for teams to gain more height on the snow than is possible in most years.

The team putting on crampons on the subsiduary summit.

The team putting on crampons on the subsidiary summit.

the summit ridge

the summit ridge

the Weissmies summit

the Weissmies summit

 

Mt. Blanc de Cheillon is one of the less famous summits of the Valais mountain range due to the fact that it doesn’t quite reach 4000m but is a very worthwhile objective with an imposing pyramid form above its plunging north face, bordered by seracs on both ridge lines. The traverse is an excellent journey up the expansive glacier below the Serpentine and along the airy east ridge to the summit, the descent by the west ridge is easier than the ascent. It’s an AD rated climb taking between 6 and 8 hours from hut to hut.

sunrise from below the Serpentine with the Pigne d'Arolla in the foreground and the Matterhorn in the distance

sunrise from below the Serpentine with the Pigne d’Arolla in the foreground and the Matterhorn in the distance

Mont Blanc de Cheillon east ridge

Mont Blanc de Cheillon east ridge

 

Gran Paradiso is the highest summit entirely in Italy, not sharing its summit with France or Switzerland, more importantly it’s an ideal climb for beginner mountaineers, requiring more fitness than technique even though the scramble to the summit virgin Mary is exposed. The view is exceptional and the challenge not negligible.

an autumn afternoon approach to the Rifugio Chabod

an autumn afternoon approach to the Rifugio Chabod

taking in the first views of the objective

taking in the first views of the objective

view from the well equipped winter hut

view from the well equipped winter hut

everyone on top!

everyone on top!

 

 

 

Plenty of space to play in the Burnese Oberland

The climbing in the Burnese Oberland is slightly different to the other areas of the Alps. The summits are high, with steep limestone on their northern flank, to the south of the watershed its a maze of peaks divided by expansive glaciers really giving the feeling of being in a big, slightly wild place. It is a long range of mountains extending from the Col du Sanetsch in the west to Grimsel Pass in the east with a lifetime of mountaineering and rock climbing possibilities if we start to look at the sub-four thousand metre peaks.

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View east into the Oberland from the Mutthorn hut with left to right: the Eiger, Junfrau and Abeni Flue dominating the skyline.

Looking west into the Oberland from the Engelhorner. The horizon from left to right: Froschkopf, Kingspitze, Kastor, Rosenhorn, Mittelhorn, Wellhorn and Wetterhorn with the huge face of the Scheideggwetterhorn to the right.

Looking west into the Oberland from the Engelhorner. The horizon from left to right: Froschkopf, Kingspitze, Kastor, Rosenhorn, Mittelhorn, Wellhorn and Wetterhorn with the huge face of the Scheideggwetterhorn to the right.

A few weeks ago the Rosenlauistock and traverse of the Kleine and Grosse Simelistock were the objectives with Laurie from Australia. Here are some photos from these two days of alpine rock climbing in the Engelhorner:

The Rosenlauigletscher behind good limestone climbing.

The Rosenlauigletscher behind good limestone climbing.

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traversing pitch on the Rosenlauistock with the Wellhorn behind

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overhanging abseil on the descent

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taking in the morning views from the Kleine Simelistock

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great climbing, perfect setting

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Engelhorn ambiance

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Another party on the summit of the Kleine Simelistock where we had just come from.

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climbing the ridge up to the Grosse Simelistock

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on the crest

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summit sandwich

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looking back up at the “mountain goat” descent

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relaxing in the meadows below the imposing cirque

 

The Oberland is most famous for its high alpine summits and the biggest glaciers in Europe, here are some photos from the Finsteraarhorn, Hinterfiescherhorn traverse, the Grunegghorn and the Monch in late July.

the Finsteraarhorn in the morning light

the Finsteraarhorn in the morning light

the rimed up summit cross of the Finsteraarhorn

the rimed up summit cross of the Finsteraarhorn

Finsteraarhorn summit view over towards the Aletschhorn, Grosse Grunhorn and the Jungfrau

Finsteraarhorn summit view over towards the Aletschhorn, Grosse Grunhorn and the Jungfrau

the Grosse Wannenhorn  with the Valais behind

the Grosse Wannenhorn with the Valais behind

Grunegghorn summit view up the Ewigshneefeld with the Hinter and Grosse Fiescherhorn on the right and the Eiger at the top of the valley.

Grunegghorn summit view up the Ewigshneefeld with the Hinter and Grosse Fiescherhorn on the right and the Eiger at the top of the valley.

sunrise from the Monchjoch hut

sunrise from the Monchjoch hut

The view down the Aletschgletscher from the top of the Monch

The view down the Aletschgletscher from the top of the Monch

The Monch summit ridge

The Monch summit ridge