Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bishorn Hochtour

A trip to the Bishorn with the SAC.

Day 1 was definitely an Andrea special: public transport and then up, up, up. Starting from Zinal we headed straight up the side of the valley. We were in woods most of the time along a nice path with good views up the valley. Along the way we crossed the tree line and the path got more challenging. At the top we came into a big bowl of sorts with great views of the Weisshorn and surroundings. Onwards through the bowl (with a bit of rain sprinkle) and then along a really fun big stone path along the side of the Diablon des Dames, through the Col de Tracuit and then to the Cabane de Tracuit, total climb about 1600m. The group maintained a really nice pace, so we didn't feel hurried or slowed down; it was a nice walk.

The hut was a mess. It's the standard starting point for the Bishorn. The Bishorn is an easy peak over 4000m. The weather forecast was good. So the hut was full. The problem was that the people running the place were completely disorganized. The also seemed to have overbooked. Combine this with the fact that the weather wasn't particularly nice outside and you get a mess. It was standing room only in the main room. Enough about that though... eventually we were fed (the vegetarians very poorly), puttered around a bit outside and then went to our very narrow beds (9 people fit into the normally narrow space for 8). Double bonus: Greg was next to the stone wall, which was dripping water.

Sunday morning we were up at 4am, packed our stuff, had a quick breakfast, then got geared up and headed down to the Turtmanngletscher. There we put on the crampons, roped in, and then followed the crowds in an ant trail across the glacier. The number of people could have been irritating but, for Greg at least, it couldn't spoil the general amazement of walking across a glacier on a clear morning and watching the sun come up on high mountain peaks. Eventually things got steep and we started overtaking some groups. Markus (the leader) set a pace that was perfect for us: we made progress and didn't get out of breath, even above 4000m. All along the way we had fantastic views out over the Alps, particularly the Berner Oberland.

At the saddle before the last 50m to the peak, Greg had doubts about finishing the climb: there seemed to be a lot of people up there and the memories of the Vordere Tierberg summit were still fresh. But he was roped in, so he luckily had to go. :-) The last bit of climb wasn't technically difficult and was wide enough for one group to descend while another ascended and... wonder of wonders... the peak area was more than big enough to accommodate the whole mass of people up there. Really nice views of the Weisshorn and one of the traditional routes to get there (Greg: "never!") as well as the continuing long views of the Alps.

Back down the saddle for a rest and a bit to eat (ah... sitting in the sun at 4100 m!), then back down. Along the way the weather closed in, so by the time we got back to the hut we were in clouds. At the hut we repacked our bags, had another quick snack, and then made the long trip back down to Zinal. After a cool beverage, onto the standing-room only bus (a first for us) down to Sierre and the trains home.

Sunday's stats: 1000m up, 2700m down.

Not counting the mini-tour to the Vordere Tierberg, this was our first real Hochtour. For Greg it was also the first time over 4000m. The hut-chaos aside (and that will end up being a nice story), it was a lot of fun.

[Note added on Monday evening: we were pretty proud of ourselves on Sunday night, now we're whining and moaning because our legs are so sore. ;-)]

No comments: