It took me six and a half hours of walking today in very hot weather to capture this image. It’s an image that I have wanted to ‘get’ since I first climbed the mountain that you see centre frame eight years ago.
This mountain is the Dom and it is special because it is the highest mountain in Switzerland. A fact that is not universally known and causes a lot of discussion, even argument. I wrote a post about this fact a few years ago and it is the most frequently viewed of all my posts. Click here to view it and get some background information on the Dom.
Normally the line of ascent of most peaks is easily visible, but the strange thing is that it is impossible to view the line of ascent of the Dom easily. Viewing the mountain from Saas Fee you see the vast precipitous face of it and its neighbours – rarely climbed from that side. From Zermatt you see merely the silhouettes of the Dom and neighbouring peaks, and from vantage points above Zermatt that silhouette remains largely unchanged.
It is only when you move back down the Zermatt valley to Tasch or Randa and climb up out of the valley at a point opposite to where the mountains are placed that you get to a vantage point where the line of ascent can be appreciated. And that is what took a lot of hard graft earlier today.
Like most Alpine climbs, climbing the Dom takes two days. On Day 1 you climb up to the Dom Hut (or Refuge) and on Day 2 the summit climb starts in the night (before 3am for this peak). The Dom Hut is just visible low down on the left of the image just to the left of a grey curl of moraine. From there the route heads diagonally up and right and hugs the left bank of the glacier. A short rock climb is then necessary to crest a ridge of rock where it reduces in height – the Festijoch. The route then follows the very easily seen, and largely snow-covered, ridge that angles up to the Dom’s summit. The climb takes about five hours.
So today was mission accomplished. Finally I have an image that shows a route by which this peak is climbed. There is another route, still not visible but which climbs the snowy face out of sight and beyond the skyline ridge. I will need to find another walk that gets me to a point where I can capture that too – but that will have to wait for another year.