Wednesday, August 08, 2012

HT Woche Berner Alpen Day 3: Up to the Grosses Wannenhorn

We do breakfast at 5:00 a.m. and head out with light packs (a lot of stuff gets to stay in the hut since we're coming back) shortly after 5:30. It's another clear morning and the light on the mountains is great. Down at the glacier we put on our crampons, rope in, and head across the glacier to the slope that heads up to the Grosses Wannenhorn. More puzzle solving here along with plenty of oohs and aahs as the sun hits the peaks in front of us.
Sunrise on the mountains. Grosses Wannenhorn on the left.
The slope up also has some good-sized crevasses and an ice fall to navigate, so it's interesting going. Unfortunately it's also slow -- one member of the group is still having fitness problems, so we just can't move at a reasonable speed. We're on the second rope, so Greg (leading the rope) spends a lot of time trying to find a pace that's slow enough to allow constant motion through the frequent stops the first rope is making and the others have plenty of time to take pictures. It's irritating, but at least we get some good pictures.
Walking around a messy patch of glacier.

Finsteraarhorn in the center, Vorderes Galmihorn to the right.
We do a lunch break at a saddle between 3600-3700m and enjoy the views all around (including a very nice view of the Vorderes Galmihorn) before making the painful decision to turn back -- at our current pace the last few hundred meters are going to take a long time to do, it's getting late, and the snow bridges we crossed on the way up are definitely not getting any stronger as the day wears on. There's a lot of frustration in the group; we were really looking forward to that peak. We head back down to the glacier and back to the hut via more or less the same route.
On our way down to the glacier.
It's now pretty clear that there's no way the full group is going to make it up any mountain. Since the point of this tour is to do some mountain climbing, not just to walk along the glacier, some of us are extremely frustrated. Tempers are, needless to say, pretty hot and some less-than-kind words are exchanged. Fortunately, Peter (our tour leader) manages to come up with a plan that offers hope for some of us:  on the next day we will split into two groups. We'll start together and then Greg will lead a rope with the four other more fit people to climb the Studerhorn while Peter takes the other two straight to the next hut. Some of us are very happy with this, one is definitely not. The mood at dinner is somewhat tense (hee hee, I love understatement).

The track:

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