Friday, 12 August 2011

SOME EASY SWISS SUMMER SOLOING. (Pt:1,Frundenhorn 3369mtrs)

I guess the definition "easy" is pretty relative.These smaller bergs have claimed many lives in the past and continue to do so.Ive used these climbs as they are amoungst my warmup favourites for the High Berner region,are all achievable in one week,given good summer conditions and a high level of fitness.
From the soloists viewpoint the Kandertal region is a smoregasboard of closely packed 3000ers offering known alpine routes from AD to TD,with great huts for stopovers and allso plenty of safe places to test that newly purchased bivvy gear.The main town,Kandersteg at valley base has lots of low priced accomodation,and is rarely crowded even in high season.It has a local Tourist Office whose staff are superb for inarticulate Brits who want to book a night in a hut,or who need help with travel or accomodation probs.They will even phone and book your hut or lodgings for you while you wait!?It doesnt get better than that dudes!
I mentioned the Kandersteg-Allmenalp Klettersteig in an earlier blog,and thats allways a great place to get your hands back on Swiss Limestone,have a good look around,and put your head into gear for the bigger stuff.
Hut=(4) Route=(1)
First off,i reccomend the Frundenhorn.3369mtrs,NW Ridge at grade-PD(Pic-1) with a night at the Frundenhutte(Pic-4) (Dont forget to ring for booking and to ask if the bergs in condition?) Take the Oeschinenbahn Gondolla up to the lake and hoof it from there.You can walk up from Kanders if your daft or hardcore,but in summer you will fry! Go right at the lake and up the picturesque and very steep track to ascend to the hut(2hrs,or 3 for me!).Keep your camera out because the views up too,and at the hut will blow your mind!
Have a chat with the hut-caretaker as he is allso a local Bergfuhrer who can point out the entire route and conditions for you.This is allso a great time to decide if you wish to lengthen your expedition along the Galletgratte to take in Doldenhorn.3643mtrs,and descend via the Doldenhutte,which will add another day or two too your climbing?
                            Peg at the Red-Spot.(Beggining of route)
Leave at first light as the route though not long,is pretty slushy in these summer days.In fact the sooner you can make it to the summit icefield,the better,as it can become nearly impossible underfoot.
Put your crampons on early and head up the glacier to the big (very obvious!) Red Spot on the lower rock band.(You cant miss it,its irradescent!) Dont try to ascend the right hand chimney unless you are suicidal? Look over to your left for the steel rungs that will take you up some near vertical rock to a notch,above which are rubble strewn slabs.
These will lead you up to the icefield,and the route is marked by red-paint splotches.Take great care on these downward sloping slabs as they can be covered with rubble and verglass.Apart from the odd piece of fixed cable there is no chance at all to place bomber protection of any kind.If you slip along this route,you will fall all the way to the glacier and most certainly die.
When i descended on this route i found the red markers impossible to see,and only found it again by the small stone cairns that i had built at strategic points on the way up.In poor visibility the second dogleg route section is impossible to see from above,as it follows an overhanging geological fault in the face,so build cairns!
                                            Summit icefield.
Once on the summit icefield its pretty straightforward,though i would now strongly advise ascenders to head up the (now exposed)rockband on the right to give yourself a start in case the ice has turned to "ice cream".Another good tip in hot conditions is,not to use the large exposed rocks as "waypoints".They attract a lot of the summer suns heat and the snow can become waist deep around them.Very spooky and very tiring!?
                                       Peggy nearing summit.
Again have your camera ready for incredible views from the summit cairn.The entire range is visible from this point,and its the perfect place to rest and lunch.In descent simply retrace your steps,but take great care to stop and check your position.
                                       Frundenhorn summit.
You may find as i did that its better to abseil through the first upper route dogleg,to make the slabby descent safer?You may allso need to do at least three 25metre abseils from the slab section back over the vertical pitch,and down to the glacier?
                                                The notch.
There are plenty of bolthangers and ancient iron rings to abseil off,but check them carefully as one that looked fine came off in my hand.It simply is not worth risking a downclimb over verglass or scree covered slabs.Once back on the glacier its a steep but direct descent to the hut.Watch out for the sneaky narrow crevasses you may have missed on the way up! The hut sells half-litre glasses of iced-lemon tea.Buy one! You will thank me for it!?

Good climbing,


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