Pazola Stock – Easy to Reach 2740m Peak Above Oberalp Pass (Andermatt)

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The Pazola Stock is nice peak that can be easily climbed from Oberalp Pass (open all winter, 2000m). This small tour is suitable early in the season after the first snow falls (tour report October 2012). The terrain is not … Continue reading

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Skitouring Above 4000m in Zermatt – Castor (4223m) and Dufour Spitze (4634m, attempt only)

The Zermatt region offers phantastic, high altitude ski touring with some of the 4000m peaks that can be reached easily. One starts at Klein Matterhorn top station at already 3900m. The easiest and closest peak with any real difficulties is the Breithorn (4159m). One can ski down back to Klein Matterhorn or – more popular – by the Schwarztor (“Black Gate”) over the Schwärze Glacier and Gorner Glacier back to Zermatt. There are usually many tracks there and very few – if any – crevasses.

Castor (middle, ascent through East face):IMG_3037cCastor (great ski peak, if it is not too icy)
The next peak on the way is Pollux (4092m) which is usually climbed with the ski on the back. A bit higher and more difficult is Castor (4223m). The steep East slope (see above) can be quite icy and then rampons and ice axe are often needed. We (André, markus, Mauri and myself) climbed the peak in pretty good conditions mostly with skis on. There were only a handful of other people on the top and the weather was sunny and warm. We skied down right from the top ridge. Video of Mauri here.

Castor peak (narrow and icy ridge!):IMG_3073c

We skied down via Scharztor (as we were a bit late in the day). The more adventurous (and also more dangerous) route is via the Zwillings Glacier.

The snow conditions on the Schwärze Glacier were awful and we took a detour via the Schwärze Lake, just east of the glacier. Great powder there. Note: The last part of this route just above the Gorner Glacier is very steep (>40 degrees).

Evening over Gorner Glacier (on the way to Monte Rosa Hut):IMG_3171b

Monte Rosa Hut (lower middle):IMG_3160b

Futuristic Monte Rosa Hut (http://www.neuemonterosahuette.ch/)
We skinned up to the Monte Rosa Hut in the evening sun and reached the hut just in time for dinner. The hut was not fully booked, so we were able to enjoy the great “dining room” and the comportable sleeping rooms. The night, however, was short, as breakfeast was served already at 03.00 (the other breakfast shift at 07.00 was too late for us).

Route to Dufour Spitze (as far as we made it):Route Dufour Spitze

Dufour Spitze (attempt, Switzerland’s highest peak, 4634m)
At 04.30, we headed with our head lamps into the darkness hoping to find the tracks to Dufour Spitze (which we did). While the air was getting thinner and we got slower, we enjoyed a spectactular morning panorama (below). The ascent most of the way is very gentle and without difficulties.

Morning (Matterhorn on the left):IMG_3202c

At around 1000m above the hut (at 3800m) a nasty and very cold wind started to blow and we “called it a day” at around 10.00 after having reached 4250m just below the “ice fall” below the Silbersattel. Being very cold and tired my/our motivation to climb higher (with skies on our backs) was limited.

Mauri, André and Markus at 4200m, ready to head back:IMG_3232c

We skied down to Monte Rosa Hut for a drink and a soup. At around noon we headed back to Zermatt over the Gorner Glacier together with dozen of skiers (mostly with mountain guides) that came down from Schwarztor.

Looking back at Castor from Gorner Glacier (route back to Zermatt to the right):Castor

Overall, a great two days! Next time I/we want to go all the way to the top of Dufour Spitze!

Some more pictures:

 

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Ski Touring in the Antarktis?

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Possible? Yes. Swiss mountains are certainly closer by … Video from Outside magazine: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ht4ty_season-pass-due-south_sport    

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Gletscher Ducan – Classic Ski Tour from Monstein or Sertig (Davos Area)

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The Gletscher Ducan (Gletscher = Glacier) is a 3000m peak reached in a few hours either from Monstein or Sertig. The small glacier North of the Gletscher Ducan offers a nice powder run (there is plenty of room for everyone). … Continue reading

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First Time on Pischa Horn This Season – Great (and Short) Ski Tour from Pischa Ski Area

The Pischa Horn, which can be reached from the Pischa Ski Area in about 1.5 to 2 hours, is almost 3000m high and offers phantastic views. I am usually up there 2-4 times every year.  This seaon – for whatever reason – I only climbed Pisch Horn in early March.

More on this tour can be found here and and in the tour guide of the Flüela Region.

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Gemsstock/Andermatt – A Freeriding (and Ski Touring) Paradise

The Gemsstock/Andermatt ski area (now called “Andermatt Sedrun Ski Arena” as the Gemsstock ski area will soon be connected to the Sedrun ski area) is a great freeriding area. Last Sunday (2 March 2014) there was about half a meter of new snow, so freeriders were lining up at the base station (and it took about 1 hour to get up to the top of Gemsstock,  which is just under 3000m).

We (André, Markus, Stephan, Mauri, Jürg, Rolf and myself) were greeted by perfect weather on the top (just above the fog). We skied down the steep South side and turn left (i.e. to the East) towards Vermigel hut with the plan to climb Piz Borel. The snow was deep and heavy and as the terrain flattened towards Vermigel hut, it was getting harder and harder to ski. So we turned back right (to the West) to reach Guspislücke (2833m), the small pass just North of the Pizzo Centrale. Stephan Hörler laid the tracks in the heavy snow and the rest followed enjoying the pristine scenery with no signs of civilization. Only the remote small hut (owned by ski legend Bernhard Russi) was visible for a while.

IMG_2293c

We crossed the small glacer called “Oberschatz Firn” (South of Pizzo Centrale) and were greeted on Guspislücke by a great panorama with views of Monto Rosa (Switzerland highest peak), Finsteraarhorn, Galenstock etc. etc. We then skied down to the Gotthard Pass road and arrived in Hospental just in time to catch the private shuttle bus back to Andermatt.

While we did not climb a high peak or skied down steep couloirs, everybody enjoyed the blue sunny sky, the phantastik scenery and the good company of friends.

Gemstock, we come again!! Here are some pictures:

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Pischa-Gatschiefer-Klosters: Epic Ski Tour with 2000m Downhill Powder

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Beat, Luzi and myself took advantage of the suprisingly nice weather to tackle this classic tour with twice 1 hour uphill and 2000 meters downhill. Together with two locals we were the first skiers on the tour after the snow … Continue reading

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