Sunday, 26 September 2010

Matterhorn Traverse

After three years of  thwarted attempts at climbing the Matterhorn  - we finally got lucky with the weather and made a successful traverse of the mountain via the Liongrat and Hornli ridges this week.
Previous trips had been abandoned due to poor weather / conditions / serious rock fall to such an extent that Rob and I were getting to the stage of giving up on the mountain, however, after a long drive out to Cervino on the weekend, an area of high pressure moving in from the west suggested we might get lucky.
We walked in slowly to help acclimatise, hoping to spend a comfortable night in the Abruzzi Hut - only finding it closed for refurbishment - a long cold night in a store room ensued ! with the next day again spent slowly moving up to the more comfortable Carrel Hut where the route started properly.
A beautiful morning greeted us and it was a delight to be moving fluidly on the mountain in the sunshine. The route was in excellent condition and with fixed belays and ropes over the hardest sections we made good time to the summit. The poor quality rock below the Tete de Lion had given us a few nagging doubts about descending via the Liongrat, and as the weather looked settled and the Hornli hut looked very inviting, we decided to complete the traverse of the mountain via the Hornli Ridge - a long and tiring descent ensued, with the lack of sleep and food over the last few days taking its toll - even with only brief stops at the Solvay Hut and a few photo's of the evening sun we slowed down, only just making it to the Hornli Hut before another team got the last two beds ! - luckily they had sleeping bags, and had a comfortable night on the verandha.
We returned to Italy the next day over the Furgg glacier and the Breuiljoch, getting back to Cervino for lunch. Moving back towards Chamonix in the afternoon, hoping to finish off the trip with a short route on the Aiquilles for Friday, however, our luck finally ran out with the weather and it was time to head for home. It all seems a little unreal, now that we are back, a plan we have talked about for three years - over in three days !

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