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[TR] Grand Muveran, Valais, Switzerland - Arete de Saille 9/25/2011

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Trip: Grand Muveran, Valais, Switzerland - Arete de Saille


Date: 9/25/2011


Trip Report:

This time back in Switzerland I promised myself I would try and investigate some the promising areas of adventure outside of the Chamonix/Mont-Blanc Massif in order to avoid the dreaded London tongue disease. They stop at nothing.




I haven't really done much alpine limestone climbing, and yesterday, the Grand Muveran, served as my introduction. This massive limestone peak tops out at just over 3000 meters and is the point culminant of the non-Bernese alps. This area is known for its bizarre geology and striking formations.


Coming to this area was a good choice. It's only about an hour and a half from Lausanne, and is one of the highest peaks visible from our balcony. We didn't have to get up dog-shit early; we left the house by about 6:15 and were back in time for Seinfeld and pork rinds.



The approach is about 1000 vertical m of hiking up a nice soft green valley.



We had intermittent clearings and sprinkles all day.



We saw a few of the wild giraffes that occupy the surrounding savanna.



The first part of the ridge involved some easy but exposed scrambling before we set up a belay for the first pitch.



The first pitches were awesome textured steep limestone (5a-5c). The exposure was in your face, with every move a stepover into the void. JC follows the crux pitches (6a). Saille in French means something that protrudes or juts out. They shit you not. A dropped carabiner would land in Lake Geneva.



Jean-Charles leads the awesome overhanging ressaut.





Jean-Charles with another team (the only other two seen that day) behind.



Rain made our summit ridge scramble more interesting. I found the last parts of ridge to be the most tiring not because of their difficulty but because of the constant looseness. I didn't drink enough coffee.



Looking back down the ridge we came up from the summit.



And now.. a 5000 foot descent.


There's something nice about being able to hop out of your car and hike a few hours to a 10+ pitch alpine summit route in a day without paying any money (besides gases of course) except the 5 franc/dollar coca-colas we had the at the restaurant/refuge on the way down. Fack.


Gear Notes:

Some quickdraws, #1 camalot.

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Cool! Keep these Alps TRs coming! Some day I hope to get across the pond for some climbing, but until then the interwebs will have to do....

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