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