After a very successful first week in the French Alps we headed out to the Saastal area of the Valais in Switzerland. We had a very rainy drive over and put the tent up in showers but the forecast for the rest of the week was positive though it turned out to be a lot better than expected for alpine stuff due to being more concerned about the morning than afternoon.
I was leading three of my friends as none of them had been to the alps before, walked on a rope and one of them hadn’t even worn crampons. Due to this we started on an easy first peak called the Allalinhorn where it’s possible to get a cable car and underground railway up to 3454m which meant that with 575m of ascent it was possible to get to the summit of a 4027m peak which is fairly impressive! The other reason for doing this peak was for more acclimatisation purposes before we attempted the Weissmies later in the week.
On leaving the underground railway we were greeted by very hot weather so we started walking in tshirts on very soft snow, which was made worse by the fact that the first section was along a ski piste which was very hard going, though once we ascended the ‘path’ off the ski piste on the way to the col called the Feejoch the snow hardened up and progress got a lot easier. The walking was very atmospheric with a cloud inversion in the valley below us, crystal clear skies above us and mountains sticking out of the cloud. We quickly arrived at the Feejoch where we were greeted by stunning views of the Zermatt area including the Matterhorn (which is an aim of mine in the not too distant future), after a quick break we headed up the zig zags to the start of the summit ridge. There were stunning views from the summit though as we arrived at the same time as 3 other guided parties it was a fairly stressful experience on the small summit so it was a case of throwing some clothes on due to the cold wind, getting a group photo and heading back down the snow arete to where there was more space.
Once we got to the other end of the snow arete the wind dropped which meant that we could sit and enjoy lunch and get some photos of us slightly less layered up, after a long(ish) lunch we headed down well behind all the guided parties which was great as it meant we had the descent to ourselves with the stunning views which made it far more enjoyable. Also due to the extended period of time the sun had been on the snow it had softened slightly so instead of having to follow the zig zags it was possible to straight line it down to the Feejoch which made the descent very easy on the knees and ankles which often snowy descents aren’t when you are on hard snow in crampons.
Towards the end of the descent we were starting to struggle with the snow being very soft and there were signs of some ice fall above the path so we couldn’t hang around so we were quickly back at Mittel Allalin where we ate the rest of our lunch and lounged in some deck chairs looking at the mountain before heading back down into Saas Fee.