Ascent to Dammastock-2nd icefall on 2009-08-31

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Lee Newton
Date:Monday, August 31, 2009
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Point Reached:Dammastock - 2nd icefall
    Elevation:8724 ft / 2659 m
    Remaining Elevation:3189 ft / 972 m (72% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

We attempted this peak the day after our Rheinwaldhorn ascent. The guide time of 8 hours just fitted into the time available, but the described route (in Goedecke's 3000ers guide) involved some awkward (and currently, entirely unnecessary) rocky terrain, then we took too long to find an efficient way through the crevasse field below the 2nd icefall. As I had a plane to catch, we turned back at the halfway point and got back in time to bag the easy but exquisite Wildspitz (Rottberg) on the way back to Basel.

The night before, we stayed at Hotel Belvedere, W of the Furkapass above Gletsch. The rooms are pretty basic but the place is full of history, the food is good, and the situation, overlooking the Rhonegletcher with an enchanting view down the Rhone valley to the main Pennine Alps (Dom and Weisshorn dominant) is superb.

What we did: Start 100m or so S (uphill) of Hotel Belvedere. A trail (obvious at first) climbs L then cuts back R and climbs steeply (occasional cairns, frequent awkward bouldery ground). After approx 150m ascent, an approx level trail is reached which runs NNE, parallel with the glacier. This follows a moraine lip (which apparently formed the upper extent of the glacier many decades ago). After 1.5 km, steep slabs block the way with a steep chossy descent involving loose ground and a small awkward slabby downclimb, leading down to a boulderfield and hence to the glacier. Total descent 120m. Alternatively it may be possible to scramble up above the slabs and continue along the terrace, although there appear to be other awkward sections further upstream (N). The glacier at this point is dry, with many crevasses, mostly easy to cross but with a few minor detours needed. Further up we approached the 2nd icefall L of centre, but got into a heavily crevassed area which wasted a lot of time. The only feasible way at this point is evidently further L. We met a Swiss solo climber who had tried to bypass the 2nd icefall on its RHS, but he reporteworth a look on the way back?d that this too is impossible.

The way to go: We conclude the best route is as follows. From the Hotel Belvedere, note the large shop at the N end of the large car park. A small trail passes immediately R of the building (scramble up a low wall, as the shop will be closed at the normal pre-dawn start time). A trail leads down to the Eisgrotto (an ice tunnel into the glacier - worth a quick look on the way back) providing easy access onto the glacier. Initially walk up the glacier (crampons from the start) keeping well R of centre; once past the first icefall, aim well L of the easy-looking crevasse zone seen ahead which leads up to the 2nd icefall, and keep to the outside (L) of the bend, keeping to the L as the glacier bends L, to pass / surmount the 2nd icefall. Once above this, head straight up the glacier then bear R towards the summit, which is apparently gained via its NW ridge. Allow 9-10 hours - more or less depending on the crevasses.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1224 ft / 373 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1224 ft / 373 m
    Distance:2.5 mi / 4 km
    Start Trailhead:Hotel Belvedere  7500 ft / 2286 m
    Time:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes

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