'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
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
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
On Saturday, several
ascended (some walking all the way from Zermatt and back again)
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.