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Last updated: 15/10/10


'Zest @ Zermatt"
12-26 July 2003

In memory of John Elgie, a Club Meet was organised by Anne Massie in July to Zermatt, and was attended by 17 Members - Allan Adams, Kevin Bannister, Fred Belcher, Derek Beverley, Fiona Cameron. Geoff Cumming, Mike Fellowes, Neil and Gillian Gauld, Andy Lawson, Ernie Potter, Eilidh Scobbie, Gordon Stalker, Ken and Lydia Thomson, Garry Wardrope, and Kees and Hazel Witte (travelling up from Italy) - and 6 "guests" (Jon Briggs, Sandra Cumming, Anne Massie, and Bernie and Lyn of the Merseyside Mountaineering Club).

Some folk put in some pre-Meet training, Fred and Garry on part of the Haute Route from Verbier, Ken and Lydia in the Ticino Alps, Eilidh and Fiona via a trip up the Rhine. However, the serious stuff started on the Sunday with a 5500-foot ascent of the Mettelhorn direct from Zermatt by a party of half a dozen or so.

On Monday, a group went up to the Täsch Hut, from where a 3.00 a.m. reveille (and an excellent breakfast, given the hour) on Tuesday led to an ascent of the Alphubelhorn via a sharp snow arête and a steep slope up to the top(s). On the return, some relief to find that the burn near the hut could in fact be crossed; it had been impassable the previous evening. Neil meanwhile polished off the Stockhorn with Andy, Derek, Gillian and Gordon (not necessarily in that order).

On Wednesday, much excitement was caused by a rock-fall on the Matterhorn just above the Hörnli Hut, where Fiona, Eilidh, Andy, Neil, Gillian and Gordon just happened to be taking refreshment at the time. So they witnessed personally the subsequent helicopter rescue (at a cost of €500 each) of 90 or so climbers left stranded on the ridge. Further buzzing led to the reopening of the mountain on Sunday after the fall,

believed caused by the exceptionally warm conditions leading to melting of perma-frost amongst the rocks.

On Thursday, the Riffelhorn was given a good going-over by the rockclimbers, and a glacial Gorge ditto by Kees and the ladies.

On Friday, amass assault on the Breithorn was made by no

fewer than five ropes (amongst several score of others) from the Klein Matterhorn - a simple ascent but fulfilling for those new to the glacier and the 4000-metre game, and an occasion to commemorate John.

On Saturday, several ascended (some walking all the way from Zermatt and back again) the Oberrothorn for splendid views. On Sunday, Mike, Kevin, Ernie, Garry, Geoff and Derek went up to the Rothorn hut, intending to do the Zinal Rothorn.

Monday proved to have the worst weather of the fortnight, with thunder and lightning. Congratulations to those who summitted at the cost of two ropes cut by rockfall. Gordon escaped to Saastal on the same day to walk the Gspon Höhenweg, and following his example a party of 7 enjoyed the Saas Fee Höhenweg later in the week, including a plastic tunnel under a mountain torrent instead of a bridge. By this time, some were starting to pall slightly at the sight of the Matterhorn looming over them every day. Attempts were made to escape from Mattertal and indeed mountains, firstly by Eilidh, Fiona, Fred, Allan and Fred on a cross-border shopping trip to Cervinia (returning despite storms), and then by Neil, Andy and Gillian on a day trip to Milan. That night Andy was 'persuaded' to join the Mystery Band for a duet at Derek's 'Dancing Bar'.

However, Neil and Andy later restored standards by climbing the southwest ridge of Pollux.


Apart from the peaks identified above, many splendid walks, "balcony" and otherwise, were accomplished, often with much interest from the local fauna (marmots) and especially in the splendid flora (even though Gordon was disappointed at his first edelweiss!). Many thanks are due to Anne for the organisation, and to Anita and her family for the lovely apartments.


Author: Ken Thomson.