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Summer alpine climbing season over
The winter is knocking on the door and before I go all-in to winter mode I want to share little bit of my summer alpine climbing season. It was truly amazing.
Normally I start my summer season in late May or early June but this summer I was late! In fact I didn’t start until beginning of July. But from then it was pretty much full-on and I kept on going until end of October.
The summer offered great varied climbing and I was lucky to be able to visit many interesting places. It’s off course hard to put down the whole summer in some words. Here’s a brief summary of what I will share on this post. It’s places I have been visiting & activities I have been doing during the this summer season:
- Mont Blanc 4times
- Chamonix & Aosta valley
- Matterhorn 2times
- Wallis 4000m peaks
- Bernina Alps
- Berner Oberland
- Rock climbing & Alpine climbing courses – Ticino & central Switzerland
Mont Blanc 4times
Always a pleasure to spend some time every year on the big white mountain – Mont Blanc. There’re many reasons for me to come to Chamonix and guide Mont Blanc every year. Chamonix is a second home for me and just to be there makes me happy. Its always very rewarding for the clients to summit which makes me very happy also. The light during sunrise and the view over the alps is absolutely stunning.
I can go on with many good reasons to climb this mountain but I think I will save it to a separate post about climbing Mont Blanc. One thing is sure, I can’t get tired of it and I will be back next season for sure! I actually had 6 bookings on Mont Blanc this summer but bad weather and conditions stopped us twice. I have now been on the summit 23 TIMES and I have to say I start to know the mountain pretty well!
Chamonix & Aosta valley
Chamonix is awesome. I lived here for many years and I still have many friends here. It’s always a pleasure to come here for a couple of weeks every summer.
The climbing in Chamonix is very accessible. With help from cable cars its possible to have high quality alpine climbing during the day and be back in town in the afternoon. Arête des Cosmiques is one of the most popular alpine climbs in the world and I was lucky to do the climb twice this summer. I also visited some small climbs on the Helbronner side, Crouchues traverse on Aiguille Rouge side and les Perrons traverse on the border to Switzerland.
Aosta valley is very close to Chamonix and it’s very tempting to go here when the weather is more stable in the south side of the alps than in Northern part. A classic and very popular 4000m summit I visit every summer is Gran Paradiso. It’s a easy technical summit and works good as an introduction, warm-up or acclimatization. Its also a nice plan B if the conditions is bad on other higher peaks.
Together with Anders and Christine we climbed the summit of Gran Paradiso nice and easy. It was actually too easy. After our climb we where back very early in the valley and we decided to move on to a new place the same day. Following day we stood on the summit of Punta Giordani above Gressoney.
Matterhorn 2 times
The horn of the horn! A summer without a visit to this beauty will give me a sense of longing back. The attraction of the mountain is very strong to every mountaineer. I had 4 bookings this summer but bad conditions stopped us twice. Are you motivated to climb Matterhorn with me next summer? Are you into some intense and physical climbing for about 4-5hours? Bring it on! I’m you huckleberry!
Wallis 4000m peaks and a magic autumn
During the autumn I spent almost all my guiding in this phenomenal area. We where lucky with some fantastic crispy autumn conditions. Perfect weather and temperatures.
In Zermatt you have easy accessed climbing from Klein Matterhorn and in Saas Fee & Saas Grund you also reach some nearby summits with help from lifts. The lifts gives you the opportunity to climb a mountain during a day and then sleep comfortable in a hotel down at the village. A popular and modern way to alpinism and perfect as introduction!
In the Wallis area you also find many mountains to climb without the help from lifts. The reward you get from climbing a mountain in a pure style is well worth the effort. The experience of climbing a mountain without help from a lift will also give you perspective – the body needs more endurance & preparation training. If you’re capable to climb several big peaks in one week without help from lifts – then you’re well prepared, a true mountaineer!
I hade the fortune to have some highly motivated and well prepared mountaineer clients coming to me this autumn and we managed to tick off a serious number of big peaks such as Täschhorn, Obergabelhorn, Zinalrothorn, Alphubel, Nadelhorn, Weismiess, Lagginhorn, Lenzspitze to name a few. All these climbs will be remembered as very special climbs and worth describing in individual posts.
During autumn most of the huts are unguarded and you have to bring you own food. Often you’re alone in the huts and on the mountain which off course is fantastic. This time of the year is truly amazing and to combine that with perfect weather and strong motivated guests was a blast!
I always try to squeeze in some sky-running coaching and guiding in my calendar. Moving light and fast gives a feeling of freedom which is hard to compare with something else. If you’re a strong trail-runner and use the right equipment(not always the lightest..) you will be rewarded with some great fun in the high alpine! If you combine your endurance with some rock-climbing skills then it will be even more fun!
Andreas, strong trail-runner, have been visiting me a couple of times. We started last summer to combine running with more sections of climbing and scrambling. We had some amazing days together on the trails high above Engelberg and on Hardergrat above Interlaken. This summer we took another step forward. After a warm-up day sky-running in Engelberg on Hahnen and Wissberg we went to Wallis and did a light and fast climb of Nadelgrat – four 4000m peaks in one go! This was the first time for Andreas practicing “classic” summer alpine climbing. The combination of his good footwork and endurance getting from his trail running background and some indoor-climbing training the step into fast alpine ascents on a fairly high difficulty level was not far to reach, apparently.
I’m looking forward to bring more trail runners up in the high alpine in the future. I’m also looking forward to convert my traditional customer base to the world of light and fast activities. I already started. Its actually not hard to convince my clients to lighter gear and more trail-running as preparation. The future points to more one-push endurance mountain activities and I’m looking forward to it!
I had the fortune to visit this mountain range twice this summer. Climbed Piz Bernina by the splendid Biancograt and Piz Palü the day after. This 4000m peak is for sure one of the most beautiful alpine ridges in the alps. Thanks the one and only Jimmy for this fantastic trip!
Second time I was here was with Henrik and we climbed Piz Badile by the North ridge. WOW! What a climb. We also had some quality crack climbing around Albigna hut. One of the summer highlights absolutely!
The Jungfraubahn is open all year around which gives you easy accessed world class high altitude climbing. If you leave the easy accessed nearby peaks such as Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger and move deeper into the massif you will find some of the most remote 4000m peaks in the alps. Those giants summits are for mountain lovers only as it normally takes 3days to to climb one each of them. One day walk in, one day to climb and one day to walk out.
I’m lucky to have one true mountain lover as a client! Christian an I spent 4 days in this massif. Traversing Mönch as a warm-up 🙂 Then we climbed Finsteraarhorn. The highest summit in the massif. It will be a pleasure to come back here and climb another giant 4000m mountain with you again!
Rock climbing & alpine climbing courses
In beginning of July I had a five day “Alpine climbing course” in Meiental and Sustenpass region. This is my home area and perfect place to have this kind of courses. The terrain is varied and you can practice all kind of different alpine technics on glaciers, rock, ice and snow. I do this course every summer and its perfect for those who wants to learn different kind of technics and be more independent as alpine climbers.
Except of the my climbing week I had in Albigna and Piz Badile region which was amazing I enjoyed rock-climb guiding in Furka, above Süstlihütte and Sewenhütte. I also had some days multi pitch guiding in Chamonix.
In beginning of August I had “Advanced techniques and self rescue” 4 day course with Patrick from UK. This course is perfect for you who want to be independent and safe on alpine rock and multi-pitch climbs.
Finally in September I had the fortune to have 3days “Rock climbing intro weekend” in sunny Ponte Brolla Ticino with allround athlete Christian Murray. Perfect place. Sunny and warm good food and very nice rock-climbing.
Summer alpine climbing season – summary and facts
I did 76 guiding days during three and a half month, ended my season 19th of October.
I guided 45 climbs.
I bailed on two summit climbs. We were not very close to reach summit. Nice days anyway.
31 days was either hut approach days, cragging or course days. And I did 3 hut-to-hut hiking days. Thanks Jimmy and the boys for those fantastic days in hiking above Lugano, Ticino.
I did more than 50.000 vertical meter climbing.
With this I want to thank all my clients for a fantastic summer! I feel very grateful. Hope to see you all next season again. I’m already super exited!
All best Tobias
Urner Haute Route aka Skiers Haute Route
Beginning of April I had the fortune to guide Urner Haute Route aka Skiers Haute Route. The ski tour starts in Realp/Andermatt and ends in the Engelberg valley after five days of ski touring spending four nights in comfortable mountain huts.
This ski tour is for sure one of my favourite ski tours in this part of central Switzerland and nice recurring tradition every spring in early April. The traverse is less crowded then many other ski tours in the alps even though it have become more popular since last year due SalomonTV beautiful film about the tour.
This year I had two solid groups. Working together with my local Engelberg guide collegue Jan Keller. Having two guides on a longer ski tour over several days has many advantages – service, safety, possibilities to split the group depending on daily form and route choice.
There’re several interesting variations on the classic route from Realp to Engelberg. The backcountry terrain in this area is huge and you need months to explore everything. Our route outline almost followed the most classic route with a slight different route outline day 2 and 3.
Outline Urner Haute Route aka Skiers Haute Route
Starting from Engelberg with private bus transfer at 09.00 o’clock to Realp 1560masl. Skinning to Albert Heim hütte at 2543m. The character of the first day is warm-up! 1000m of skinning in comfortable pace and slope angle, kickturn training and genaral tips. After four hours in warm sunny weather we arrived to the hut. The hut is an old classic cozy SAC hut. Romain is the hut warden and fantastic cook.
From Albert Heim hütte you can choose by either go South-West direction towards Trifthütte or more straight South by the classic route which takes you over Lochberg 3074masl and down to Göscheneralpsee. As the Chelenalphütte was closed we choosed to stay at the lovely Gasthaus Göscheneralp. This makes it to a shorter day 2 and a very long day 3. But its worth the extra effort as the Gasthaus serves you nice dinner and has comfortable beds and shower. Slightly better than very cold winter room at Chelenalphütte!
After an early start we arrived to summit of Lochberg around 09.30 o’clock. The skiing down from Lochberg was incredible. 20-30cm of cold fresh powder totally untracked for more than 1200 vertical meters. What a day!
We had breakfast just before 04.00 AM then started slowly skinning up towards Sustenlimi passing Bergseehütte for a short brake on the way. The visibility was bad and it was snowing for almost the whole morning. From Sustenlimi you can either continue to the highest summit of the tour Sustenhorn 3503masl or ski directly down the glacier to Steingletscher Hotel and after-ski beer 🙂 As the visibility was not optimal we skied down to the Hotel. The skiing was great, 1200 vertical meters untracked powder. This is for sure the most high alpine section on the tour regarding to the glacier terrain. Big glaciers with huge seracs and deep crevasses. The Steingletscher Hotel have full service, nice beds and showers.
From the Hotel its possible to go directly to Engelberg but its sad to miss the skiing on the splendid East face of Fünffingerstock wich takes you down to the Sustlihütte, my personal favourite hut in this region. Kari and Agi, the hut wardens, will serve the best Älplermagronen in the kanton of Uri!
Weatherly, we had our nicest day our last day of the tour. We skinned up to Grassen 2946masl before going down to Engelberg. Its a nice finish to end up on the classic summit of Grassen overlooking the Engelbergertal and the 2000m descent down to Engelberg is magnificent. A stop at the Wasserfall Restaurant for final lunch is a must!
Level Required on Urner Haute Route aka Skiers Haute Route
I get this question from time to time. It’s wise not to be a total beginner. Knowledge and experience of backcountry skiing and ski-touring is preferable. We do about 1000-1500 vertical meters climbing per day during five days. So you have to be fit and prepared for that! The terrain is sometimes difficult. The steep slopes requires good kick-turn technique and sometimes we have to climb with crampons and ice-axe with the skis on our backpacks. But of course, the guides will take good care of you and help you with the technique along the way if needed.
Summary Urner Haute Route aka Skiers Haute Route 2017
Fantastic week along with a mix of amazing people. Everyone did not know each other before. It was no problem rather the opposite. It was a very social and nice week and I hope there will be reunion next spring. The conditions we had couldn’t be better than what it was. It was like a dream. It was snowing during the nights and mornings, just about time for the descent the sky cleared up and the sun was coming. Totally unbelievable. Lets do it again!
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