Sunday, March 30, 2014

Böshorn (3269m) - Fletschhornhütte - Sengchuppa (3607m)

I met Yves two years ago during the Davos conference, where we did a couple of tours together. Over the past two seasons, we've been trying to come up with a weekend when we were both free for a tour somewhere in Wallis since Yves is from those parts. Last year we were foiled by weather, but this year the plan worked out and we had a great two-day tour near Simplon pass.

We headed to the Fletschhornhütte, an awesome little hut positioned at just over 3000m on a dramatic ridge line looking out toward some of the the eastern Wallis 4000ers. It's an unmanned hut, meaning you have to bring your own food but everything else including blankets, a wood-burning stove, and cooking utensils, is there. A really awesome place: simple, clean, and away from the crowds. We were the only two people there.

On the first day, we approached from the Simplon pass road and headed over Böshorn, a classic peak of the area since it's relatively high (3269m) and apart from the airy summit scramble fairly easily accessible. The way up to the peak was a complete zoo, since part of the approach is shared with other popular peaks that are favorites with large groups on the weekends. We were happy to disappear over onto the other side into complete silence and isolation.

We miscalculated the elevation gain needed on the first day a bit and ended up doing slightly over 2000m of climbing -- which would have been fine except that we had to chop wood, melt water etc. as soon as we arrived, preferably before it got dark. Instant noodles never tasted better.

Next day we awoke to a glorious morning and headed over the Gamsagletcher towards Sengchuppa, which definitely takes the crown for the most amazing peak name of all time. We reached the top in 2 hours and descended back toward Sirvoltesattel over the glaciers. There were pockets of really amazing snow, which in parts had strangely not even been touched by wind. At the end of the glacier, we skinned back up and over Sirvoltesattel and descended back to the Simplon pass road. A really great weekend in a nice corner of the alps, which serves up with some spectacular solitude. Fletschhornhütte is highly recommeded!

Crowds rolling over toward Sirvoltesee above Simplonpass road

wind-sculpted snow on the lower slopes of Böshorn

Yves on the approach to Böshorn

Finally in view of the summit... erm sort of. We spent the next hour or so in a whiteout. 

Since I expected the scramble to require full attention, I left my camera in the pack where we left our skis... big mistake, as the views from the summit were amazing and the scramble really fun. I kept my phone in my pocket though, so the next few shots are taken with that.

Once on the summit, the clouds would magically part every few minutes and give us an amazing view of our surroundings -- here, Fletschhorn in the background and Sengchuppa (our sunday objective) in the foreground)
looking north toward Berner Oberland

summit selfie
downclimb selfie

Yves navigating the ridge on the descent

Once away from the summit ridge, we were also out of the fog -- Yves searching for our exit

starting the descent toward the foot of the Gamsagletscher

Our tracks and the summit in the middle right

Checking the map on the glacier

Popping over the ridge toward the hut served up an amazing panorama

the little hut is on the ridge in the lower right

Weisshorn on the left and Brunneghorn in front on the right -- I climbed it two years ago

traversing toward the hut

first things first -- chopping wood

cozy inside
cooking snow
sunrise and the latrine

Sunrise on Dom, Lenzspitze, and Nadelhorn

Looking north toward the Aletschgletscher

leaving the hut

approaching Sengchuppa

on the summit!

Yves descending 

Skiing down the glacier

crazy wind pattern -- the smooth part was completely untouched by wind

Looking at Böshorn from Sirvoltesattel before our final descent

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On-location with Filme von Draussen

Tom (of Filme von Draussen) somehow convinced Andreas and I to get up at 2am and go on a sunrise ski tour... two of them actually. In retrospect, getting up at 2am was worth the glorious sunrise views we got each time and after coming back into the city in the late morning, the rest of the work day was actually quite productive. Each time we had nice fluffy powder to ski on, which made the early morning much more bearable. So not such a bad idea at all... plus, now we know Hüenerchopf, the area's preferred ski touring mountain for everyone over 65, like the backs of our hands.

The first time we went I left my camera behind (idiot) but managed to snap a few pics of the process during our second outing. Tom's video will tell the rest of the story...

Andreas happy to see the sun rising

tops of the Churfirsten get some morning rays

breaking trail through fresh pow on Hüenri -- by the end of the day this would be completely tracked out. On a Tuesday. 

set up

Andreas shredding the Hüenerchopf gnarly (!) NE face... 

Andreas in a sea of slightly wind-blown pow