Crossing Saas Fee – Zermatt

12.4. – 16.4. 2013

Photo: Borut Nagliè

This year the weather was not very favorable for longer tours, however we had one chance. Otherwise four crossings were planned.

In short, the first foggy and snowy day was followed by four wonderful days of immense beauty of the icy mountains, pleasant atmosphere and wandering on tour skis.

The story started in Saas Fee, a little town above the Saastal valley.

First day

On the first day we took the cable car to Langfluhe hut (2870 m) then further to misty slopes of Alphubel (4206 m). Due to bad weather cicumstances we stopped our tour at approximatley 3970 m of altitude, that was on the east ridge of Alphubel. After that we descended to our accomodation in Langfluhe hut.



Second day

Next morning we woke up to a beautiful day, our goal was Allalinhorn (4027 m). First we ascended to the summit through maintained ski slopes up to some 3500 meters and from there onwards we took the upper slopes of the mountain to its peak. After that we started skiing towards the Britannia hutte (3030 m), where we concluded the day.



Britannia hutte

Third day

In front of us was the »royal« stage of crossing and accordingly was rose early at 4:45 a.m. The route started with a descent to the Hochlaub glacier and continued across the Allalin glacier to the saddle Adlerpass (3789 m) and onwards to the top of Strahlhorn (4190 m). The mountain is an exceptional viewpoint over the Pennine Alps. After the summit we descended back to the saddle and further on to Adler glacier down some rather steep slopes (40- 50 degrees). Luckily the conditions were good and no abseiling was necessary. All of a sudden we were all alone in the expanse of the Findeln glacier. The ascent to saddle Stochornpass (3394 m) was now in front of us. Then we had a very gentle descent towards the Monterosa hut (2883 m), which ended with quite a steep gradient over the less steep slopes around Monterosa hut. The steep part itself wasn't such a problem but there was soft, rotten snow down to the bottom. This proved very stressful toourselves keep calm as I was fearful of hearing an avalanche somewhere near while struggling with the continuous sinking up to our waists into the snow... Thank god nothing dramatic happend and tired and satisfied, with good luck, we came to the hut. The hut itself is really impressive, the product of modern architecture and construction. The hut’s interior is built with natural materials – mainly wood and the exterior offers the looks of modern days to come.

Left Strahlhorn, in the middle Adlerpass, right Rimpfischhorn (4199 m)

Look back to the Hochlaub glacier


Strahlhorn summit

Strahlhorn summit

Vastnesses of Findel glacier, in the background Monte Rosa, Nordend summit (4609 m)

Stockhornpass saddle
'Rotten' slopes above Monte Rosa hut


Forth day

We afforded ourselves a bit of late breakfast (7:00) and spontaneous resumed the tour towards the saddle Silbersattel (4515 m) that lies in between the two highest Monte Rosa peaks. On the left side is Nordend (4609 m) and on the right side Dufourspitze (4618 m). We rose to a little over 4000 meters, fatigue from our previous days began to show. Then we had wonderful downhill skiing in the direction of our approach. We finished the day again in Monterosa hut.

Lyskamm (4527 m)


Fifth day

Back to civilization from where we managed to escape for these few magnificent days. We started descending to Gornergrat glacier on a little bit cloudy day. The weather quickly changed from cloudy to clear and accordingly temperature rised. We had yet another adrenaline experiance. The glacier stops in a narrow and steep canyon, which can be passed only with sufficient amount of snow which covers a stream that comes up from under the Gornergrat glacier. I must say that we probably 'cought the last train' since at some points the snow bridges seemed doubtful to cross, it was really dangerous. At one point we needed to use a rope – short abseiling. All together the route ended on the ski slopes above Zermatt. Now it took only an easy slalom on the softened ski trails to Zermatt (1603 m). Two of the guests wanted more skiing and went to Kleine Matterhorn (cca 3800 m) with a cable car. The rest of us sat down with beer and rosti (typical food of the region) and relived the past events and gossiped about passers-by... We returned to our starting point (Saas Fee) partly by train and partly by bus.




Ski slopes above Zermatt


Our whole expedition finished in the nicest possible way and we returned each to their own daily life full of impressions, which one gets only through experiancing the battle with oneself and nature.

Thanks to all participants.