Monday, September 03, 2012

Seilschaft coaching Day 2: Up Il Chapuetschin

We head out from the hut at around 6:15 under cloudy skies. It's pretty warm but not raining (yay!). The plan for the day is to have each of the group members lead a stage; Greg has the first stage, so he leads the group out and up the moraine next to the hut. After some climbing, plenty of stamping through snow, and a few wrong turns (tip from Bruno later: check the first bit of the route out the night before), we get up to the cliff wall at around 2900m, rope up, and head out across the glacier. The fresh snow makes the going slower than normal (both because crevasses are harder to see and because there's an effort associated with making a path), but we head steadily upwards to the Fuorcla dal Chapütschin. The crevasses aren't too bad, so we can take a pretty direct route.
Weaving through a couple crevasses

In the middle of the bowl we hit the days only real decision point: to the pass and then along the whole ridge, or the shorter route through the couloir southeast of Il Chapütschin? The choice to head to the pass and then up the ridge instead of the couloir is an easy one: the couloir is quite steep and looks pretty unpleasant.

At the pass we take a short break and then [B] leads the group for the next stage: up to the ridge and then along the ridge to the peak. Plenty of path breaking here, but [B] does all the hard work. Over the  Chapütschin Pitschen we go, then down to the firn on the other side, around the top of the couloir and then back up to the ridge. Here it's steeper, more scrambly, and more exposed, but there are plenty of rocks/edges to hang the rope around so it doesn't even start to feel unsafe.
Looking towards the ridge to the Chapütschin
The top is windy as hell, so we don't stay long before heading down 10-15m to a more wind-sheltered bowl where we do a quick lunch break.
Up top! in the wind!

After the break Andrea leads the group down the first part of the ridge, down to the glacier on the West side (we decide not to do the full ridge because of the snow and the heavy winds), across the glacier, and to a saddle where we can cross the ridge and head down to the glacier on the East side. Bruno belays us through the first scrambly bit and then it's another swap of leads and [M] navigates us across the glacier (more crevasses here) and down to the rocks at around 3000m where we take off the crampons and pack away the ropes. The last stretch, in a light drizzle, is down through the rocks (sometimes quite slippery thanks to the snow) to the moraine and then back to the hut.

In the evening we talk through the day, plan the next day's trip, and have another good meal before heading off to bed.

All in all it was a good starting day: the weather wasn't ideal but the tour was relatively easy (would have been quite easy without the fresh snow) and a good chance for us to get to know each other as a Seilschaft (sorry, I just can't bring myself to use "rope team").

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