Breithorn (Switzerland), Castor (Switzerland), Weissmies (Switzerland)

28-Jul-92 (Private Trip)

By: Wayne Norman

This summer, while on vacation in Switzerland, I climbed three of the easier 4000 meter peaks in the Zermatt area.

After arriving in Switzerland and before traveling to Zermatt, I spent a couple of days recovering from jet lag and a migraine, in the Swiss town of Weesen. From there to Zermatt I took a train which followed the route of the Glacier Express, an incredibly scenic train ride. I highly recommended taking the Glacier Express for anyone who is traveling in Switzerland. As soon as I arrived in Zermatt, I signed up at the guide's office for a climb of the Breithorn the next day.

Our group consisted of the guide, Hans, and two other climbers. We took standard route up the Breithorn, the cableway to the Klein Matterhorn (3820). (Note: all elevations are in meters) From the Klein Matterhorn we headed east to the Breithompass, then up the Southwest slope to the Southwest Ridge and on to the summit (4164). It was a perfect summit day, clear skies, warm weather, and good company. There were fantastic views of all the surrounding "Zermatt" peaks including views of far off Mt. Blanc.

Two days later, I joined a guided climb of the Weissmies. We left Zermatt and traveled by bus to Saas Grund, then up by cableway to the Hohsaahaus (3098) and the Weissmies Hut. From here the route went up a trail to the Trift Glacier where we put on our crampons. Then up the glacier past some crevasses, up a snow slope, then turning right and up the face to the south-east. Before reaching the West Summit we turned left and stayed away from the corniced ridge and continued to the snow covered summit (4023). The sky was clear and the panorama was impressive with far ranging views of the Bernese Oberland, It was a crowded summit, with at least twenty other climbers on top. After a lunch break it was down the peak. The clear sky that made the views so nice, was now softening the snow for the slog back to the Hut,

My plans for a Saturday climb were postponed a day due to the funeral of a Zermatt Guide, killed while climbing a few days earlier. The funeral was a sober reminder of the dangers involved in climbing mountains, Sunday, my last day in Zermatt, started early as our party of three started up the cable car to begin our climb of Castor. The rope consisted of our guide Hugo, Anna (a Swiss climber), and myself. We proceeded to the Zwillingsjoch, then south-east and switchbacking up the South-West face to the South-West Ridge and on to the summit (4228). Our guide, Hugo, realizing he had a strong group and kept picking up the pace until someone began gasping for air, normally me, and then he slowed down a little so we could enjoy the climb. The guide book's suggested time to make the summit is 4-5 hours, we made it in under 3 hours. This was to prove fortunate as clouds were moving in fast from the south. After a 15 minute break on top we made a hasty retreat, happy that we had the summit to ourselves and glad we were not on the summit of the Breithorn where we counted over 30 climbers on top with many more climbers heading up.

My climbs in the Swiss Alps were a wonderful experience and I hope to return soon to do some harder climbs.

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