Wednesday, April 24, 2013

pre-work ski tour for the last outing of the season (Hüenerchopf 2172m)

Late-season snow fall and bad weekend conditions left us contemplating a weekday option for a "pre-work" ski outing. Following a tip from Andreas had a good idea to head to Hüenerchopf, a relatively small mountain near the border of the cantons of St. Gallen, Glarus, and Graubünden. We were hoping that the night would be clear so the freezing levels would dip low enough to freeze the surface for easy skinning but thaw enough in the morning for a nice forgiving ski down. We were shocked, however, to discover a "dry" parking area, especially since the trip report from just a few days prior stated that they skied almost all the way back to the car... The snow up was soft already and the short sleeve weather provided for some interesting glop on the way down. But the views were incredible and the top 500m or so were really fun on nearly perfect corn snow (a first for Romain). The "snow" down low was so wet that we had to just fully straightline in order to keep up any sort of speed (a first for me).... good times, a nice way to finish off the season and a really nice, safe peak near the city to keep in mind for next year... we finished the morning off with a lunch stop at Burger King (haven't eaten there in probably 10 years) and then it was off to work!

Romain is checking his GPS to make sure the lack of snow isn't due to a navigational error...

finally after 30 minutes of hiking in boots, continuous snow

a bunch of posers on a scenic snowfield

scenic ridge leading to the summit

signing the summit register and checking the vitals

prof. Teyssier explains the metaphysics of pre-work ski touring

Andreas is stoked about skiing off the summit... with the fabulous Churfristen in the background
Romain navigates the steep traverse

hurrah for corn

deep knee dip

I took these last two photos while skiing behind Andreas...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Three day ski tour in the heart of the Alps (April 12-14, 2013)

This year's spring ski tour with the ZSS took us once again to the Wallis, just around the corner from our last year's tour to the Turtmanntal. This time our base was at Cabana du Mountet (2886m), surrounded by some of the most spectacular peaks of the alps. The terrain is wild and unforgiving and the summits difficult and technical. We didn't try for any of the high peaks (though we did make it partway up Zinalrothorn), but we climbed a slightly lesser Mont Durand (3713m) on the final day. It's quite the "little" peak, offering sweeping views of the giants like the Matterhorn, Weisshorn, Obergabelhorn etc. Our descent into Zermatt was spectacular bordering on kitsch and we all got a little sick of staring at the imposing north face of the Matterhorn all day... Ralf and Guido made the right call once again and the snow for much of the south-facing descent starting from the Arbengletscher was perfect corn... unfortunately both of my camera lenses completely fogged up on the final ascent to the col and there is no photographic evidence (at least not from me) of it...

climbing out of Val de Zinal, Besso (3668m) in the background

dramatic clouds at the start of Glacier de Zinal -- I think Weisshorn is behind there somewhere

spring cleaning had begun in earnest already... 

weaving up Glacier de Zinal -- the rock buttresses of Grand Cornier in front of us

Cabana de Mountet high up on the left; Obergabelhorn on the right with the long ridge connecting it to Zinalrothorn via Wellenkuppe and Trifthorn

our group the next morning in front of Cab. de Mountet -- Dent Blanche bathes in the morning sun

Guido in front of a group of skiers heading up toward Glacier du Mountet

the first sun rays reach the tip of Roc Noir below Dent Blanche

group of skiers descending along Arete du Blanc

the north faces of Obergabelhorn and Matterhorn

Lenticular over Matterhorn with Obergabelhorn in the foreground

climbing up the west slopes of Zinalrothorn -- we turned around just shy of our goal (shoulder on the ridge at 4000m) 

looking back down at our ski depot

Ralf checking out the conditions near the ridge

climbing up the to the ridge near our high point

Descending Glacier du Mountet

a rare photo of me skiing -- thanks Frank!

dropping into a little bowl

early on the third morning -- a group of skiers heading up toward Zinalrothorn (hidden behind the clouds)

First sun rays on Dent Blanche as we cross the Glacier Durand

clouds pouring over Zinalrothorn and Trifthorn

Obergabelhorn in the morning light

Ralf and Markus silhouetted against the lower parts of Arete des Quatre Anes (I think) of Dent Blanche 

broken up Glacier du Grand Cornier

Climbing up Glacier Durand with Zinalrothorn and Weisshorn, two jewels of the "imperial crown" in the distance

crossing the flats on Gl. Durand; Pointe de Zinal in the background

at Col Durand greeted by the giant Matterhorn

pointing out peaks...

scoping out the route and marveling at the north face of Matterhorn

climbing up toward the summit ridge of Mount Durand

wowza -- I got so excited about this ridge I forgot to take a picture of our objective... 

summit scramble

handshakes on the summit of Mont Durand (3713m)

marveling at the views on the summit -- somehow I forgot to take the photo in the other direction, of the long ridge linking up all the "horns"...

descending the ridge back toward the ski depot

unfortunately no photos of the long descent to Zermatt due to equipment failure... but it was glorious indeed.