The great incentive for me on this occaision was that i was booked into the historic Schwarenbach Hotel in the Gemmi Pass.A place that in its time has played host to Guy de Maupassant,Oscar Wilde,Pablo Piccasso, and even Ernest Hemmingway on one of his Ibex-hunting/Mountaineering expeditions.And now it had little old me!!:-)
Peggy and i had a two bed suite on the third floor (Yes,this is a real hotel!)with an incredibly tasty four course dinner, and a superb early alpine breakfast for a very reasonable price.
The Schwarenbach Hotel.
I was a little disapointed that our excellent hosts (The family,Peter Stoller-Wehrli.) hadnt sought to display more of the hotels great history,since it was built as a customs house in the Gemmi Pass in 1742 between the Berner and Valais regions?But judging how hard they worked to make us comfortable,no doupt they will eventualy find time to put up a few old boots and ice axes to keep us old alpine history hungry Brits happy?!And i will certainly be staying there again next year,providing they dont find out that i accidently detached one of their double glased windows (The lever was so tempting!?)and allmost dropped it on some customers,three storys below! I got a three hour lecture from Peg on "Why i must not fix things!" after that episode,and thus have paid for my sin!
Peg telling me off,at Schwarenbach.
We hurtled up the still-dark track by headlamp at 5am next morning fortified by a full nights sleep and a great breakfast.About twenty minutes along we turned left up the col,just before Daubensee,and headed up the steep Cwm to Rindersattel.We made it in under two hours,followed by two super-fit Swiss aspirant guides and a freezing morning wind,that made us all scuttle for cover behind the Chli-Rinderhorn ridgeline at 3000metres.
Chli-Rinderhorn(left)Rock ridge shelter(right).
Our new guide friends took off uphill like rockets after about five minutes.We lumbered along after and were soon far behind.Pegs knee had been playing up for days so it was decided she would shelter at the big cairn,just before the summit icefield,and i would go on.Whilst waiting she found a Trilobyte fossil in the rubble at about 3200metres.Peg allways finds remarkable stuff on our trips!
Peggys Trilobyte fossil find.
I donned my crampons and started a broad traverse up the summit icefield in the tracks of our Swiss friends.I soon wished i hadnt as the ice prooved as soft as it was on Frundenhorn a few days before,and i was stumbling and swearing in frustration at my poor progress.After an hour of this horror i reached the Gemmi end of the summit ridge to be met by the descending guides.
I was kind-of relieved to see that they looked as shattered as i felt!As we shared some ice-tea,they agreed that it was the worst summer conditions they had known in the region,so i felt a little better as i staggered up to the summit cross.
The view though a little cloudy was as stunning as usual with its agorophobic drop into the Valais region on the opposite side of the mountain,and the sharp Tallegratte ridge shooting up to Altells and Balmhorn on the left.
Altells and Balmhorn from Rinderhorn summit.
The incredible panorama of near and distant peaks lasted only long enough for an obligatory pack-shot and four snaps before the clouds closed in and the wind rose.I stumbled and skidded my way back down,barely under control in the slush,laughing like an idiot at all the abuse and anger i had vented on the way up.Wondering if the guides had heard it and what they would make of it?! I was soon back with Peggy who barely noticed my arrival being totaly engrossed in her new fossil and some wierd insect she had found,and together we made our way back to Rindersattel.
Icefield descent to Rindersattel.
The scree slope down to Daubensee punished us both,and we were shattered by the time we reached Schwarenbach again.We took our time over a good cold water wash in the Boot Room,and downed a gallon of cold beer and soft drinks before heading for the Sohnebuel Gondolla back to Kanders.We had a fantastic time and resolved to return next year,as there is so much yet to do in the Gemmi Pass.