The Allalinhorn re-visited

Last summer I climbed the Allalinhorn fifty years after my first ascent, and I wrote about it in My Golden Mountain.

Yesterday I soloed it again – in total my eighth ascent. The mountain looks the same but each year the route taken up it is a little different, depending on the changes to the giant crevasses and serac walls that have to be safely negotiated.

The route skirts the right flank of the mountain reaching the low point on the ridge from where it climbs the right skyline

The route skirts the right flank of the mountain reaching the low point on the ridge from where it climbs the right skyline

It’s a simple half day climb – 2 hours up and about an hour down and rated as ‘F’ (for facile or easy). Today I would reckon that there were sections that justified a higher difficulty grading (PD- perhaps). The route taken this year is more direct in its approach to the shoulder to the right of the main bulk of the mountain, resulting in it being steeper and also at times uncomfortably close to a major serac band.

Approaching the Shoulder, other parties close behind

Approaching the Shoulder, other parties close behind

The earliest parties are already on their descent

The earliest parties are already on their descent

Stunning views of the Strahlhorn and Rimpfischhorn from the shoulder

Stunning views of the Strahlhorn and Rimpfischhorn from the shoulder

I caught the first cable car ride up to Mittel Allalin this morning at 0700 and was climbing by 0800, summiting by 1000 and back down at about 1115. I was amazed to find parties just setting out on the climb as I neared the bottom. The day was hot, with perfect visibility, and the snow was already softening.

Summit!

Summit!

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Summit parties admiring the view. Matterhorn dead centre. Far away to the right are Mont Blanc and Grand Combin

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The views south into Italy were magical – ridge after ridge into the distance, and not a cloud in sight

The standard advice for all alpine climbs is to get as much of the climb done as earlier as possible when the snow is frozen, when snow bridges over crevasses are solid, and when the risk of stone or ice-fall is less likely. Viewing the objective dangers today I would not have liked to be starting up at 1100 with a likely return of 1400 – early afternoon.

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Close encounter with a yawning crevasse

Walking past this huge tottering Serac (like a Shark's mouth) was an uncomfortable few minutes. Only take an image when out of the firing line.

Walking past this huge tottering Serac (like a Shark’s mouth) was an uncomfortable few minutes. Only take an image when out of the firing line.

The rewards of climbing high in the Alps are huge. Most of you reading this will be familiar with the phrase: ‘no gain without pain’.  In climbing circles the greatest rewards are often associated with the greatest risk. Risk can never be totally eliminated if you choose to climb. But always the aim should be to minimize the objective dangers as much as possible.

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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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15 Responses to The Allalinhorn re-visited

  1. excellent, and a perfectly clear day too…I bet it would be fun sledging down it 🙂

  2. Great post Andy, with super images. Enjoy the remainder of your trip!

  3. Len says:

    Amazing trek Andy and even more amazing images. Looks like a perfect day.

  4. Pete Buckley says:

    Looks like a great day in the hills! Nice photos.

  5. Well I’m certainly impressed. What a gorgeous day for a climb. amazing images you captured.

  6. oneowner says:

    There seems to be a lot of people climbing this time of year. Is this normal? Great photos. btw.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken. The Allalinhorn is one of the easy 4000 metre peaks and so it is climbed by a lot of people who might only ever climb one mountain but want the experience of getting to the top of one of the major Alpine peaks and want to see that fabulous view. Most people are guided up (or sometimes towed up) by Guides from the Guides Bureau. For me it’s a trip down memory lane. I was guided up it 51 years ago and since then I’ve guided the children up it two or three times and soloed it several times more recently.

  7. ehpem says:

    Very nice views indeed. It must be very nostalgic to climb these peaks so many years later, though perhaps in the more dangerous spots you have only time for caution, not retrospection. Terrific photos, as usual.

    • LensScaper says:

      Retrospection is all part of the journey. It’s strange how very selective memory is. I recall the climb in 1962 in patches, but I have no memory of the night and the meal in the Mountain Hut!

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