Saturday, July 28, 2018

Climbing the Witenwassernstock

This weekend we did an SAC tour to head up the Witenwasserenstock (it's a pure coincidence that this is just a couple of peaks away from the Chuebodenhorn, which we visited a few weeks ago). The tour description is from the newest Silbernagel book. On Saturday we get a fairly late start; it's a long train ride, but we don't plan to do anything but go to the hut and the weather forecast is kind of dodgy anyway. From Realp we follow the road for a while (too long), then start to head up the Witenwasserental (again, too much time on the road). Eventually we turn off the road and follow a nice path up, up the rest of the way to the hut. 
heading up toward the Rotondo hut
As we go, the weather slowly deteriorates. 10 minutes or so from the hut it starts to rain for real (damn! so close!), fortunately without lightning. Once at the hut we hang stuff up to dry, get situated for the evening, and then hang out for a while until dinner. The hut is crowded, but it's not particularly chaotic. Uneventful except for the important cultural experience of having two Swiss teach us how to play Jass. :-)
After dinner (which is really good!) the weather has cleared up. so we head outside to enjoy the views and do a bit of scoping out/planning the route for the next day.
planning the route across the glacier
On Sunday morning we have breakfast at 5:00 and are underway shortly before 6:00. The hut isn't really a mountaineering hut, so we're the only ones getting an early start. The weather is great: clear skies and the full moon still visible until it sets behind the Lekihörner. We start by following the blue-white trial towards the Cavanna pass and then turn off to cross the talus towards the glacier. At the edge of the ice we put on crampons and walk on. When it gets a bit steeper we rope in before continuing up the steepening slope until we exit easily onto the talus. Crampons off, switch to two rope teams, and then head up a bit more before hitting the blue white trail that takes us easily to the east peak of the Witenwasserenstock. This is, by the way, a really nicely made trail along the ridge. The weather is perfect and the views from the peak (which is a watershed between the Po, the Rhone, and the Rhine) are great. We don't hang out very long, because this is where it starts to get interesting. We follow the lovely block ridge down a bit until we get to a wall. This has a couple of bolts in it and is easy to climb (3c according to the book) up to a stand - we do this part "traditionally".
climbing up the first wall
A bit more along the ridge, then up another scrambling bit - we simulclimb this - then more lovely block until we get to the final climb to the peak. The last ascent is also "real" climbing (no bolts here, but good places to hang slings). Since there's really no room at the top, each of the two rope teams does this individually while the other hangs out at the bottom and enjoys the views and nice weather. After both groups have been to the top and we've taken enough pictures, we reverse ourselves and head back the way we came. Great timing that the group that left an hour after us arrives at the foot of the peak just as we're leaving. Reversing a route is normally not our favorite thing, but in this case having more time to enjoy the ridge is definitely not a bad thing. :-) We also get in some abseiling practice, which is also positive.
the last climb to the peak
After getting back to the point where we left the snow, we put the crampons back on and then head down the slope (great snow conditions), across the ice, and back to the hut. After a refreshing beverage and gathering our gear, we make our way down to Realp. There's some chance that we can catch the train at shortly past 16:00 if we hurry, but we don't manage to hurry fast enough, and we have some time to kill. This works out very nicely as it gives us the chance to stop just before we get into town and have a very refreshing dip (water! cold! yikes!) before we get on the train. The trip back is, once again, long, but pretty painless.
down the ridge
This was a nice, not particularly difficult, combined tour and the ridge and views really were great.

Track (includes the route up from Realp):

No comments: