My Golden Mountain

Today started with a suitable golden omen. I was out of the hotel at six am this morning and by pure coincidence the Matterhorn was gold tipped.

I wish I had had the time to watch the sunrise unfold but I was off to catch a train and then a bus to Saas Fee – a two hour trip. With the intention of climbing a mountain: the Allalinhorn. A graceful, even elegantly shaped, mountain that is one part of the giant horseshoe of peaks that surrounds Saas Fee. The Allalinhorn is a compact 4000M peak – size isn’t everything.

The Allalinhorn from MittelAllalin (image taken in a previous year)

This is where it all began 50 years ago on my first visit to Switzerland with my parents as a fifteen year old teenager. My first hut-based climb of an Alpine 4000M peak was up the Allalinhorn.

The route we took in 1962 – me, my house-master from school (he was a keen Alpinist and a huge inspiration to me, and was on the same holiday trip as us) and our guide – is a route seldom climbed these days, but in 1962 it was probably the easiest route up the mountain via its South-West ridge.

Allalinhorn form Saas Fee village at 8am today

That was 30 years before the inauguration of the Metro Alpin – the highest underground funicular railway in the world – that now transports tourists, skiers (to ski all year round on the vast glacier) and climbers, to the Mittelallalin at a height of 3,456M almost within touching distance of the mountain. Its construction meant that climbing the Allalinhorn is now a short and fairly easy one-day climb.

Over the intervening 50 years since my first Alpine climb up this mountain, I’ve visited its summit a further five times, making today’s visit the seventh. I’ve guided our children up it, climbed the Ostgrat – the left skyline in the first image of the mountain above – and soloed it. So it seemed fitting that if I was to climb anything this summer it should be this mountain. A golden Jubilee excursion!

I can’t do this mountain justice in the short time I have tonight. Suffice it to say that it was a straightforward 2.5hr climb, the descent took about half that time. No mishaps, beautiful weather, fantastic views. I’m still in one piece, but I may be walking slightly stiff-legged tomorrow.

The images that follow give you some idea of what climbing this mountain entails. I’ll re-visit sometime in the future in a little more detail. Do remember you can enlarge any of these images for a better view.

An overview of the lower half of the route, beyond the skiers.

A vast convulsion in the snow field

A brief respite at a Col before the final steep rise to the summit

The proof I was there. The true summit is behind my right shoulder. Too crowded and little space for images. So an Italian guide obliged just at the end of the summit ridge

A party descending, detouring round a huge crevasse

Two of the near neighbours – Strahlhorn and Rimpfischhorn

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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18 Responses to My Golden Mountain

  1. Excellent pictures Andy, I love “A vast convulsion in the snow field”, it’s so dynamic and strong, I like that I can almost “feel” and touch the surface with my hands! You were lucky about the weather conditions to take those pictures! It changes so quick there… Well done.

  2. oneowner says:

    Fantastic images. I’m really impressed with the number of climbers you encounter. Is it seasonal or is there always a lot of people up there?

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken. On a good summer’s day a hundred or so climbers will be on this peak. Most will be guided parties, but there will be a handful of solo climbers like myself.

      ________________________________

  3. Oh man!!! You really make me feel so jealous :/ But one day when I start making money again I will return there. Big time!!!!! Matterhorn here I come!!!! 😀

  4. Keep’em coming Andy 🙂

  5. Stunning series of shots Andy.

  6. Len says:

    Terrific images Andy. I love mountains so I am a bit jealous. Looks like quite the place.

  7. seekraz says:

    Good for you, Andy…happy 50th anniv of your first climb there! Beautiful photos, too…. 🙂

  8. Pete Buckley says:

    Great photos – nice to see what it looks like in the sun! I wasn’t so lucky!

  9. rigmover says:

    Stunning shots and well done.

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