Thursday 30 August 2012

Dent Blanche S Ridge

Despite the searing heat of mid August disappearing, we've been having some odd conditions here in the Alps with plenty of sun, but plenty of thunderstorms too. Picking an objective is always tough at times like this, and the main danger is letting frustration rule, and picking what you'd like to do rather than what you should do. Peter, Tom and I debated several options including a quick hit to the Bregaglia area, but all of us are keen on having good days, and none of us are keen on "getting away with it", so that plan was shelved in favour of a trip to the Valais for some classic alpinism on the Dent Blanche.

With all 3 of us unacclimatised, the famously tough slog up to the Dent Blanche hut felt like a real grind, but we still managed it in 4.5 sweaty hours (and that was with me carrying some vegetables which the hut guardian had asked me to pick up in Martigny!).

All photos Peter Riley - 

Me and Tom at the hut.

Hut sunset

Away from the hut about 4.15 the next morning we made good time and had tagged the summit, stuffed ourselves with Haribo and M&Ms and were on our way back down before 8. Most of the route is very steady scrambling, and there are just a few short, trickier sections. Were it not for the verglas which covered the final third of the route, I think we all would have been happy soloing everything, but as it was we stuck the rope on briefly near the top. The descent took as long as the ascent as we abbed down a few verglassed slabs, and got stuck behind a few guided teams, but we still back in Cham for dinner time and a well earned vin rouge. 

This was without a doubt one of the best viewpoints I've been to in the Alps, so here is a shedload of photos to illustrate the point!

Me mid-way up the ridge at sunrise

Looking across to the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa et al.

Waiting to pass a guided team high on the ridge

Looking across to the Zinal Rothorn & Ober Gabelhorn 

Matterhorn gets the first rays of sun

Tom and I on the busy summit

Starting down

Me on the verglassed rock just near the summit. 

COLD!!! I wore all the clothes I had when we left the hut at 4.15, and still had them on when we got back! My water froze too, so pretty wintery all told.

Looking back up at the ridge

Heading home as the clouds thicken. It started raining a few hours later.

Final thing - when we were checking out Peter's photos, we came across this one; in which Tom and I seem to be having a competition on who can look the most camp. I'm confident I won but cast your votes now please.