Alpine At Its Best
For those who love mountains, a trip to the Alps once in the lifetime is a must. No matter what type of climber you are, you will always find a way to enjoy the range. Almost every peak is fully charged with history and every climb represents more that the summit itself, not to mention that the experience is even better when we add the delicious food and great facilities that represents climbing in Europe.
This summer Mountain Madness has been running several trips reaching the most iconic peaks in France, Switzerland and Italy, we are almost at the end of the season and the list of climbs continues to grow. So here is a short dispatch of some of those stories:
Mont Blanc — The Gouter Ridge. Joshua Jarrin photo
We began with an ascent to the highest peak in the Alps, Mont Blanc, mainly located in French territory with one face that belongs to Italy. Joaquim and Luiz O, two Brazilian brothers, found a way to fit a climbing trip into their family vacation in Europe. In fours days, we climbed Petite Aiguille Verte, as part of the acclimatization, and then Mont Blanc by the Gouter Route. Meanwhile their families took some of the lifts from Chamonix and enjoyed great views like from the top of Aiguille du Midi.
After this, Zermatt, in the heart of the Swiss Alps, was the destination and the chosen peak: Matterhorn. Jens N, a Danish climber that already completed the Seven Summits, wanted to try his chances on the Hornli Ridge. We used three days to acclimatize and get used to the terrain before the main goal. During that time we reached the summits of Pollux and Breithorn on the border between Switzerland and Italy.
Jens on the summit of Pollux. Joshua Jarrin photo
When we felt ready, we took the lift up to Swarzsee and hiked for two hours, just in time for a great lunch in the Horli Hut. That afternoon we checked the details of the route and rested for the upcoming push. The following day started early. At 3:30am, we were up and having breakfast before our climb. Twelve hundred meters of an alpine rocky ridge were covered in just four hours of scenic climbing. The Matterhorn wasn’t an easy climb, but it got it’s reward once on the top, where we could enjoy the view of peaks from Mont Blanc in France to Dufourspitze, the main summit of Monte Rosa, in Italy.
Summit Ridge on Matterhorn. Joshua Jarrin photo
After this, still in Switzerland, Jim C, an experienced climber from Washington joined us for the Spaghetti Traverse. This is a beautiful, five day trip that travels the border with Italy climbing the most important summits of the Monte Rosa Massif. Aside from the climbing, the highlight of this tour is the great accommodations on the Italian side. Everyday, after an average 5 hour journey, we arrived to a different hut and had the opportunity to enjoy some drinks and tasty Italian food for dinner. Considering the title of the trip, you can guess what was the first course! In Jim’s case, the traverse worked for acclimatization and afterwards he successfully climbed the Eiger with MM Guide Mark Allen.
Liskamm from the top of Signalkuppe, part of the Spaghetti Traverse. Joshua Jarrin photo
Ice formation on the Spaghetti Traverse. Joshua Jarrin photo
But the summits are not the only way to enjoy the Alps. Sometimes the situation calls for a change of plans, but the fun never ends. That was the case for John L, his wife Meredith and friends Ben and Ashley who completed the traverse of Vallee Blanche from the summit of Aiguille du Midi in France to Torino Hut in Italy and also hiked up to Lac Blanc, near Chamonix. What great stories to come home with after traveling with a professional wrestler, John, who used some of the spots we traveled to to film promotional videos for his own video game.
“Bradshaw” promoting his video game from Lac Blanc in the French Alps.
Joshua Jarrin photo
Finally, if the weather goes bad and there are no other options but to turn around, you can still have fun! That was the case with Joe, Kirk, Mario, Pat, David, and Mark, a group of friends that take one mountain trip per year and this time it brought them to the Alps. The first idea was to complete the Spaghetti Traverse, but after reaching Castor, we got hit with a bad storm and had to find our way down to Italy and back to Zermatt. Since we couldn’t complete the traverse, we went for a good time in “Via Ferrata” close to the Furi lift station above Zermatt. The guys were a bit skeptical at the beginning. In the past they always completed the trips, and turning around was a new experience, but after a huge dinner in the Ferraro Hut (Italy) and lots of fun on the cliffs, they ended up with the conclusion that the final plan was even better than a couple of extra summits with bad weather on the range.
Mario P. climbing on “Via Ferrata” close to Zermatt. Joshua Jarrin photo