Here’s a small selection of my pictures from Zinal and our ‘afterparty‘ at Dent Blanche with Sang. I called it perfect lines due to all the amazing shapes you can find in the mountains. Hope you enjoy it and the descriptions reveal a bit of the atmosphere we had 😉
Night driving somewhere in Germany, in the middle of the night. Trying not to fall asleep behind the wheel;) Finally – after a long time of anxious waiting, not so much climbing and recalling memories from 1st stage of The Mountain Academy 2 – I’m on the road and heading to Switzerland. This time we’re going for some high altitude ridge climbing in Val d’Anniviers, canton of Zinal. Surrounded by magnificent peaks of Zinalrothorn, Obergabelhorn and Dent Blanche we’ll be living the one-week-dream that’s going to stay in our minds for ever…
Leaving the valley of Zinal. In spite of superheavy backpacks full of clothes, food and gear for the upcoming week we hike up merrily into the wild. Everybody’s filled with excitement and curiosity. I guess that so much positive energy automatically prevents from fatigue;) Few hours and over 1000 vertical metres later we reached Cabane du Grand Mountet. Funny how instead of taking a rest we instantly started bouldering on the nearby blocks… And Cabane itself turned into a perfect shelter during our week. Not only was it a place to rest and regenerate after exhausting mountaineering days but first of all it was a place to live together, to get to know one another a little bit more and to share common dreams!
First day was a warm-up and acclimatization day. We went all together for an easy peak of Dome de Moming. Definitely it wasn’t the most spectacular and formidable 😉 mountain in the area but our objective was pretty clear: to check our alpine skills, evaluate the level of the group and set goals for the next few days. We all passed this entry exam easily but only Bojan was graded A for his superb ice axe juggling;) In return we got some nice glacier traverse, a bit of snowy&rocky ridge and delicious lunch and photo session as a bonus. Sounds like a good beginning of a great week, huh? 🙂
From the following day onwards we were divided into smaller teams choosing different objectives. Most of times there were two goals for the day which meant that some teams went for it whereas the other teams attempted the second one. After warming up on Dome de Moming I went for the Besso ridge where I teamed up with Aude. It was a beautiful rocky line – not so technically demanding but very interesting in terms of fast simul climbing using natural protection. Frankly speaking the climbing was so fast that most of time we were gasping for air! Being the first party on the summit we could enjoy perfect weather, breathtaking views and a nice chat;) On a way down the guides showed us some useful tips&tricks they use when working with clients. It was another valuable day!
One of our major objectives in the whole Mountain Academy project is to play it safe and learn new things related to climbing and mountaineering. Therefore every stage we organize one so called ‘school day’. The only difference between this and regular school is that we attend this one with pleasure, seriously! 😉 This time our subject was ‘glacier techniques and crevasse rescue systems’. After reaching the Durand Glacier we had some theoretical lectures and a lot of practical exercising. Most of us already knew that stuff but since no one keeps practicing crevasse rescue all the time it’s never too much to recall it and to refresh the memory, I believe. And what an opportunity for testing the brand new Mountain Hardwear Dry Q jackets and pants ;))
In spite of being tired from the alpine adventures we took a delight in ‘high altitude bouldering’ on huge blocks nearby the hut. It was a perfect spare time activity, almost as good as playing a card game UNO;) We enjoyed the sunny weather and excellent friction of the granite blocks. Some of the guys even managed to open up and send an extreme boulder problem called ‘Moi, je joue!’…
Finally the time came to go BIG! There could be only one choice – Zinalrothorn 🙂 Some of the guys did the S-N traverse earlier and the amazing stories they brought made us wait for our turn impatiently. Yet it turned out to be worth waiting! It was a long but perfect alpine day that included a bit of everything – early start in the starry night, the sound of frozen glacier in the morning, beautiful sunrise over the nearby peaks, perfect rocky and compact South ridge and razor-sharp and icy North ridge on the other side and a melting glacier on a way back in the afternoon. I told you, a bit of everything:) Soon after taking off from the Rothornjoch towards the summit we were joined by Samuel Anthamatten – a freeskier, local mountain guide from Zermatt and Mountain Hardwear athlete. Samuel also descended with us to stay with the group and share his experience and knowledge about the area and mountaineering in general.
On the picture you can see the summit (to the right) and the whole North ridge as seen from Dome de Moming. The snowy ridge in front of you is the last part of the descent just before stepping onto Glacier du Mountet.
Don’t miss the second part from Dent Blanche!