Ascent of Monte Rosa on 2010-06-24

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Andrew Tibbetts
Dave Kenyon
Date:Thursday, June 24, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Train
Peak:Monte Rosa
    Elevation:15203 ft / 4633 m

Ascent Trip Report

(Overall timings in ascent stats include hut climb and descent - about 2h 15mins each way)

A lot of fresh snow had arrived a few days previously and we hadn't thought an ascent would be possible. However, when we got down from Paradiso on Tuesday, Dave rang the hut and the guardian confirmed the mountain was in condition, so here we are :-)

Private cars aren't allowed in Zermatt, hence we parked in Tasch at about 1pm and took the train (runs every 20 minutes; the alternative is a taxi ride). Once at Zermatt station, the Gornergrat railway station is just over the road. This (expensive) rack railway takes you part way to the Monte Rosa hut. From Rotenboden station, a trail leads initially downhill, then traverses high above the Monte Rosa glacier with Monte Rosa itself clearly visible ahead and superb views of Liskamm, Breithorn and the Matterhorn across the glacier. Descending further, the trail reaches the "dry" glacier - initially a steep icy descent (protected by a fixed rope; we didn't use crampons) then there are several ups and downs, and a few obvious crevasses. Once across the glacier there is a slippery ice bridge then a slabby zigzag ascent, past the old hut, to the new modern eco-friendly hut - The Crystal (2900m GPSr). There were quite a few people at the hut, although it turned out that very few of them were heading for the summit - some were perhaps checking out the new hut, which had opened just a few days previously and wasn't quite finished.

The hut is comfortable and the food is good. We got some sleep before the 01:30 wake-up, then a light breakfast and off at 02:15. Bouldery start with some frozen snow, gaining the lower glacier where we roped up and put on crampons. There was one party just ahead which appeared to be heading for Liskamm; also one party far above us whom we met later.

This early in the season there were just a few, obvious crevasses - much easier than would be expected a month or two later. After a longish snow plod, we arrived at the foot of the summit ridge, initially a steep snow arete but soon becoming rocky and quite exposed. After another steep snow slope, the final rocky arete has lots of scrambling and some exhilirating exposure - absolutely superb, with great views. Fixed ropes ease the way at a couple of steep pitches. The summit itself, reached in 7h, is much more compact than I expected. Extremely impressive - probably my favourite 4000er to date. The only other party on the mountain leave the summit just before we arrive so we have it to ourselves. The temperature is quite mild with little breeze. The Valais view is very impressive - distinctive shapely peaks all around - Obergabelhorn, Weisshorn and of course Matterhorn - all noticeably below us, as is nearby Nordend. There is a small trig plaque, unusually fixed to an angled outcrop of rock.

On the way down, our guide (Dave Kenyon) is at the rear (normal practice in descent) - I find myself leading the way on some quite difficult ground - odd but I enjoy it once I get started. The mostly crevasse-free descent is easy and quick although once off the glacier there is some soft deep snow to deal with in the midday heat. After a brief stop at the hut for a drink, we walk back out to Rotenboden station, get the train down to Zermatt then out to Tasch to retrieve the car. We then drive back to Expedition HQ to rejoin Wynn, Steve, Becky and Alan in Chamonix and get set up for Mont Blanc...
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6017 ft / 1833 m
    Extra Gain:33 ft / 10 m
    Round-Trip Distance:13.7 mi / 22 km
    Route:West ridge
    Trailhead:Rotenboden station  9252 ft / 2820 m
    Grade/Class:PD YDS3 (fixed rope)
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Guide, Hut Camp
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
cold on ridge, hot on descent
Ascent Statistics
    Time:9 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 

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