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.
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.
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.
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.
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.