Travels Abroad, 1962-3, Chapter 7 – Switzerland


Zermatt lies south of the Rhone River, in the Pennine Alps, and is home to the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa, although these peaks are also accessed from Cervinia, Italy. I found a novice climber to accompany me on the ascent of the Matterhorn,  by the regular route, the Hornli Ridge. This is an easy route, with fixed ropes located at the steeper sections. The only dicey moments were on the last few meters to the ice-glazed summit, because we hadn’t carried crampons with us.

Matterhorn, August'62

The Matterhorn, August’62, with the Hornli Ridge separating the shadowed North Face from the sunlit East Face. Because this is a head-on view of the ridge, it is difficult to gauge how steep it is (postcard).

I next soloed Monte Rosa (second highest in the Alps, at 4,634 metres/15,203 ft.). It is a snow trudge the entire way, with very little objective danger.

Monte Rosa (www. summitpost.com photo)

Monte Rosa (www. summitpost.org photo)

Then I traveled north to Grindewald, which sits at the foot of the huge north faces of the eastern Bernese Oberland. I had done some easy snow climbs in the western end of this range at the beginning of the summer. Now I wanted a look at the really big mountains. The trio of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau present a huge and very impressive wall of mountains to Grindelwald.

Eiger,_Mönch_und_Jungfrau

Left to right: Eiger, Mönch und Jungfrau (Wikipedia). The mountain railway from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg is visible, climbing the slope below the Eiger.

But, I was still on my own, and the best I could accomplish was a climb of the easy route on the West Ridge of the Eiger, with an English companion.

The Eiger, with the North Face on the left. This postcard shows the route i climbed, later in the month

The Eiger, with the North Face on the left. This postcard shows the route I climbed, the West Ridge, which is a walk-up.

Backside of above postcard

Backside of above postcard, mailed Aug. 30, 1962, from Kleine Scheidegg

After about a week spent mostly hanging out in the area around Kleine Scheidegg (the location of the hotel and train tunnel made famous by the movie, “The Eiger Sanction”), I traveled east. In the vicinity of Furka Pass, I soloed a very nice climb on the South Ridge of the Gletschhorn: “South Ridge A classic ridge climb of about 11 pitches on excellent granite. Mostly UIAA III and IV with a crux of IV+ or V- depending on the guidebook.” (www.summitpost.org)

Gletschhorn, South Ridge

Gletschhorn, South Ridge (www.summitpost.org photo)

On September 14, I met a healed-up David Hiser at St. Moritz, with the aim of climbing in the mountains of the nearby Val Bregaglia.

The St. Moritz area

The St. Moritz area (postcard)

The Piz Badile, with it's famous North Face

The Piz Badile, with it’s famous North Face (postcard)

The Forno Glacier

The Forno Glacier (postcard)

Cima del Largo

Cima del Largo (postcard)

We hiked up the Forno Glacier and climbed the Cima di Castello (3379m), descending to the Albigna hut on the far side.

Cima di Castello, from the east

Cima di Castello, from the Forno Glacier side (www.hikr.org photo)

David and I, at the Albigna dam

David and I, at the Albigna dam

David and I, at the Albigna dam, looking back up at the Cima di Castello

David and I, at the Albigna dam, looking back to the peaks in the vicinity of the Cima di Castello, September, 1962. The Albigna hut is visible on the near ridge top.

We returned to St. Moritz, and traveled a short ways northeast, to the town of Guarda. This is a part of Switzerland where the Romance language Romansch is spoken. We then hiked north to the Piz Buin, climbed it and descended the far side, to the Inn River Valley in Austria.

xPostcardGuardaSwitz.

Guarda (postcard)

The Piz Buin (3312m), from the south

The Piz Buin, from the south (postcard)

From there, it was a short distance to Innsbruck, to visit our friend John Stirling, who was living there with his girlfriend, Lisle. While in Innsbruck, I made a trip to St. Anton (I believe it was), because I had heard that the Kronhoffer climbing shoe company, located there, would keep drawings of your feet on file, so that you could easily order new boots. I had them make me a pair of kletterschues (climbing shoes), which I subsequently wore as climbing and street shoes both. I don’t recall how many replacement shoes I ordered, but this is how, after my marriage to Karen, one of my last Kronhoffer kletterschues ended up.

KletterschueBronzed

Kletterschue, bronzed

And speaking of Karen, she was starting a Junior Year in Munich that fall, so that was where I headed next. This will be seen in the following chapter

https://believesteve.org/2015/08/17/travels-abroad-1962-3-chapter-8-the-draft/

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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One Response to Travels Abroad, 1962-3, Chapter 7 – Switzerland

  1. Britt Runyon says:

    Yes, your the Dude!

    Like

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