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MRiley

[TR] Switzerland - Bluemlisalp Traverse 7/19/2016

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Trip: Switzerland - Bluemlisalp Traverse

 

Date: 7/19/2016

 

Trip Report:

Now that the winter rains have set in, it’s a good time to try doing a photo album of some summer climbs. I did 3 climbs in the Swiss Alps for a total of 5 summits. I’m going to start with the best of the climbs, the 3 peaks of the Bluemlisalp Traverse, which I did with my friend Manu from Nuremburg. I met Manu through a climbing friend, Steve, here in Olympia. They had met at Everest base camp and when I was going to be in Europe we connected on this climb, which Manu had tried once before but turned back due to weather. This year was different as at Manu’s request I was able to bring some of the beautiful summer weather we had been having in the PNW.

We met up in Kandersteg with my daughter, Karen, and son, Ben. Bluemlisalp from Kandersteg:

 

1-Bluemslisalp.JPG

 

Ben and Karen hiked part way to the Bluemlisalp Hut with us. The hut is actually visible from Kandersteg and reminded me of getting to Camp Muir – you can see it as you hike, but it doesn’t look like it is getting closer. The final approach to the hut consisting of about 20 short switchbacks with the hut right there in front of you was a bit much.

2-The_Hut_and_last_16_switchbacks.JPG

 

We got up the next morning for the Climbers’ Breakfast a little before 3a and were heading out about 3:30. We roped up for the glacier crossing to the start of the route on the Morgenhorn (11,890 ft). As always, I lagged on the glacier travel, which is my least favorite part of climbs, but once we reached the steep snow and ice slope of the Morgenhorn I felt my climbing kick into gear. We simul climbed with Manu in lead and placing 2 ice screws over about 600 feet.

3-Morgenhorn_at_sunup1.JPG

 

The slope then eased off with a nice walk to the summit right at sunup.

4-Morgenhorn_at_sunup2.JPG

 

After a little break to enjoy the sunrise and clear day, we did the relatively easy walk to the Wyssi Frau (11,975 ft), with a couple short rock sections to keep it interesting.

5-Rest_on_Mornenhorn.JPG

 

Wyssi Frau from Morgenhorn

5-Wyssi_Frau_from_Morgenhorn.JPG

 

The ridge from the Wyssi Frau to Bluemlisalp (12,000 ft) is the crux of the climb. The route follows a steep, narrow, jagged ridge crest.

9-ridge_route_from_Wyssi_Frau.JPG

 

10-Wyssi_Frau_to_Buemslisalp1.JPG

 

11-Wysi_Frau_to_Bluemslisalp2.JPG

 

12-The_last_steep_step.JPG

 

A couple rock steps had to be climbed in crampons with minimal protection, but the rock was good, handholds solid and large foot placements so we were not dependent on front points on rock.

 

Manu ready to start a rock pitch:

7-Manu_at_a_rock_step.JPG

 

Mike belaying from the top:

8-Mike_at_a_rock_step.JPG

 

We reached Bluemlisalp about 12:30 with a beautiful view of Oeschinen Lake some 7000 ft below us.

13-Manu_on_Bluemslisalp.JPG

 

14-Mike_on_Bluemslisalp.JPG

 

The descent was down rock slabs and blocks for what seemed like about 700 ft, then a run along a snow crest and descent down a steep snow face to the glacier. Descent route with glacier below:

15-Descent_route.JPG

 

Here again, I slowed down for the trudge across the glacier with much patience from Manu until we came within site of the hut and the long downhill cruise. This was an adventure that fit the definition of a good climb: uncertain outcome, high endeavor, and good company.

 

Gear Notes:

We roped up for the glacier crossing and stayed roped throughout although we only did belays at rock steps and one steep slope near Bluemlisalp. We used two ice screws on Morganhorn and one on Bluemlisalp. We had a small rack for rock pro, but a couple useful fixed pins were all we needed so did not use our rock gear.

 

Approach Notes:

Well maintained trail to the Bluemlisalp Hut. Large hut with good food. Bunk room accommodation, but I slept great. Approach to the route from the hut is about an hour of glacier travel with some crevasses.

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I guess the mods haven't gotten things fixed yet.....this is a known issue with cutting and pasting TRs into the site.

 

Please PM Olyclimber to get it posted. Thanks for being patient, I really want to see your TR!

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