September 3rd 2010

Saas Fee

Its been a while since I’ve been back to the Valais….ever since I moved to Chamonix over 4 years ago in fact. With things getting a bit stagnant with weather and conditions in Chamonix we decided to head over to Saas Fee and get back on my old ‘stomping grounds’. I learnt how to climb out in the Valais so it was going to be interesting to see how I found it years later. Back then we didnt use lifts or huts (Chamonix has definitely changed my lift ethos but not the hut one) and since we were on a budget the same rules applied. It felt great to walk back up a 4000m peak and bivy from the valley floor, it had been a while.

Our first day we ambled up to the Weissmeis and bivied below the N ridge for an acclimatization ascent the next morning. At about 5am 3 mates from Chamonix sped past on the way to the Lagginhorn and we quickly got up and made our way to the N ridge of the Weissmeis.

Will on the start of the ridge at sunrise

It’s a nice and long ridge with some pleasant climbing and bolts if you need them on the cruxes- it’s essentially a very long Cosmiques arete. Just over 3 hours later and we were on the summit of the Weissmeis enjoying the panoramic view of the Austrian Alps and the rest of the Valais.

Will (left) and Jon (right) about to put crampons on for the final ridge

On the descent of the Weissmeis

That evening we discovered the strict no camping laws of Saas Fee as a police car came and herded us out of our camping spot at midnight. To put it into perspective we were camped nearby the dam at the very top of the valley- miles away from town. However with a 100 Swiss Franc fine it was best to move on quietly.

The next day it rained so we sat in town with Ben, Neil and Jon. By the next morning it was still raining and looking miserable up high but we waited for it to start clearing up before Will and I walked up to the Britannia Hut with our eye on linking up the Strahlhorn, Rimpfischorn and Alallinhorn the next day.

Strahlhorn, Rimpfischorn and Allalinhorn

We went light and packed just one bag which worked surprisingly well given how bitterly cold and windy it was that night. The next morning we left and linked up our objectives and felt still really fresh ontop of the Alallinhorn. Its a good link up but the East Face of the Rimpfischorn is a bit of a chossy nightmare so you have to take your time- the route description is also totally useless, you are better off just following your instincts.

Myself heading up the Strahlhorn, the next target of the East face of Rimpfischorn in the morning sun, © Will Sim

Soloing up the East face of the Rimpfischorn

Summit of the Allalinhorn

Ben and Neil linked up the Rimpfischorn North ridge and the Alallinhorn as well which meant that we all ended up in town feeling good and sat up til late in the forest high above town. Unfortunately by the next morning the weather had turned again and high winds and low snow line meant that we bailed home as fast as possible for the next big Chamonix project…

The Alpine Exposures coffee table photo book