Saisonstart auf dem Simplon (3. Dezember 2016)
In the quest for some snow after the rather dry last 2 weeks, southern Alps were an obvious pick! And the weather forecast was promising as well… indeed the walliser miracle happened one more time when the train exited the Lötscheberg tunnel.
For the first day (of the weekend and of the season), we had resolved to go for a not-too-long, not-too-challenging tour: traverse from the Simplon Hospiz to Rothwald via Maderhorn (ZS- with a promising descent on the north side). That was without counting on the weather we discovered from the bus: as we got closer to Simplon pass, all peaks were covered by a thin but dense layer of clouds, whose fast motions let us anticipate strong wind!
Never mind, we dropped our stuff at the Hospiz and started the tour in a windy, gray atmosphere: no doubt, winter has started. But after only 200m up, the sky cleared up and the wind vanished. During the whole day, we could look at the clouds overflowing the pass underneath… Quiet ascent with a long traverse, it’s so nice to be back on skis and skins 🙂 After 2h15 and a break, we reach the very flat peak. We follow the ridge for 50m and ski down on the west of the summit. Not even 20m below the ridge, we find super nice powder snow! 100m of awesome ride, until the snow becomes more and more crusty. We readily decide to go up again to enjoy it once more. As good as the first time! We don’t go a third time but rather head down to the small resort of Rothwald. After a short section where a hard crust challenged our technique, the crust gets softer and we had a few hundred meters of very enjoyable snow again. Man, I’d already have been fulfilled with 10% of what we got 🙂
Hitchhiking luck made us back to Simplon Hospiz in no more than 15′. A lot of time to enjoy the fireplace and cozy sofa…
On Sunday, we let the crowd assault Breithorn and Monte Leone and rather head to Boshorn, on the other side of the valley (ZS-, ca. 1500m up). Very nice morning lights from the valley as we start. After 800m or so, the few other teams on the track all head to other peaks. Christoph breaks the track for the second half of the tour (he’s young and fit, and I’m having a more difficult day than on Saturday)… we rapidly have to take the ski crampons out, which is not very pleasant but still reinsuring since we were worried of having a lot of blown up snow in this section where we traverse above a small cliff. Toward the top, we head too much right in a couloir that rapidly turns to be very steep. I make a depot and continue with crampons and ice axe, soon imitated by Christoph who has already progressed quite higher. Climbing the rocky summit ridge is a lot of fun (II, not to be underestimated with the snow, crampons, and no rope). The view is so clear and the landscape stunning: Aletsch area to the N continues to berner oberland, Fletschhorn N-face to the south (so close!) and other walliser peaks around, and an endless cloud sea over northern Italy with Bernina and friends at the horizon. The descent offered no good surprise as yesterday, and the snow was very much like what we expected from the forecast. Overall the tour was longer, more technical and more exposed than yesterday, but also very nice!