Switzerland 2014

Saturday July 5, 2014
Hiking from Trient to Le Tour, then bus & train to Zermatt

Sunday July 6, 2014
Zermatt, Breithorn, and Saas Fee

Monday July 7, 2014
Saas Fee to Martigny

We decided to climb Breithorn, which at 4164m is the easiest 4000m peak in the Alps.  Breithorn is 'easy' because the lift up to Klein Matterhorn takes you up to 3820 meters within about a mile of the Breithorn.  Kent and I saw signs in Zermatt indicating guides wanted over 250 CHF to guide you up the Breithorn.


Kent is on a mission to bag a 4000m peak.. no sit down breakfast on summit days! :)


Top of the Matterhorn is visible


Most of the Matterhorn is shrouded in clouds



Klien Matterhorn is directly ahead of the cablecar, shrouded in clouds
Breithorn is to the left, also shrouded in clouds.

The weather looked like quite a mess.  At the top the winds were absolutely howling. 

Kent's pic

One guy coming back from his hike said he turned around just short of the peak of the Breithorn, and he doubted anyone would be able to summit today.

Kent and I put on our gear and ventured out into the blustery whiteout. 

Very shortly after an English speaker asked us if we wanted to partner up. 
Kent blew him off.
Kent was much more sure of himself than I was... what else is new...



I had serious doubts I would get very far in this weather and didn't want to hold Kent back. 
After a few minutes I cut him loose and let him go for the summit alone.
I proceeded on alone, following the path in the snow.
I made slow progress wandering along the snow path in the 40mph winds.
After about half an hour the path in the snow split into two, and I had no idea which way to go.
I had seen almost no one since Kent left. 
After a few minutes at the junction I decided to turn around. 
I turned on the GPS on MotionX for grins.


I backtracked for less than 5 minutes before running into a large guided party headed up the Breithorn,
While the entire guided party was roped up, there was an unroped solo hiker tagging along, as well as a few skiers. 
Didn't take me too long to realize that if these people can ski uphill I surely can hike up this hill.
I started to follow the guided party back up the Breithorn.
I was easily able to keep up with the relatively slow pace of the guided party.
The other solo climber and I both went on ahead of the guided party for a while.


Guides are helping their clients with their crampons.
I felt downright competant since I know how to put on crampons myself.
Many of the tourists looked pretty scared.
At this point these were steady streams of guided trains of tourists headed uphill.


It started to get a little steeper - nothing dangerous, but steeper than I was comfortable with alone in a whiteout.
I stopped and considered my options for about 5 minutes.
I turned around again, this time for good.
I later found out that my peak elevation was 12891' or 3929m.
Part of me says I should have at least gotten to 4000m... the other part of me says I turned around when I wanted to without getting hurt.

On the way back I caught up with another guided party and followed them for quite a while. 
We made excellent time downhill.
After about 35 minutes we stopped underneath the ski left for a break and I got out my GPS again. 
One of them walked over to me and told me they were continuing on to Gandegg Hut. 
He wanted to make sure I knew where I was. 
I pointed back down the ski lift and confidently said 'Klien Matterhorn is that way'. 
He decided I was ok to be left alone.
I followed the ski lift back and after a long ten minutes or so alone I could see Klien Matterhorn.


I somehow ended up on the wrong side of the ski run fencing and was looking down the top of the Klein Matterhorn Glacier


Klein Matterhorn


Klein Matterhorn


56km/h windspeed = 40mph


I changed out of my winter gear and Kent arrived.  He was pschyed since he had summited, and he also seemed happy to see me still alive :)
He changed too and we headed down hill.


Reasonably interesting(?) 3-1/2 minute video of most of the gondola ride down from Klien Matterhorn


This house was too perfectly Swiss, I had to take a picture.


We had one last Zermatt beer at The Brown Cow and then made our way back to the hotel where we'd left our gear.
The gear had been moved downstairs.  I found an open restroom downstairs and quickly changed out of my snowgear, put on fresh clothes and felt like a million bucks.
Kent was happy to have summited and told me he'd go whereever I wanted to spend the evening.
I was torn between Leukerbad and Saas Fee.  Leukerbad was simply heavenly, but I'd seen it, and I was dying to see Saas Fee, so we headed to Saas Fee.
We took an extremely full train down to Stalden and got one of our few pictures together while waiting for the bus.




The road to Saas Fee goes up the right side of this canyon. 


From the bus, looking north up toward Visp


From the bus, looking south toward Saas-Grund

At one of the later bus stops near Saas-Grund about 30 Russian speaking kids and teenagers got on the bus.  Clearly they'd been on a hike on their own.  They stayed on board all the way to Saas Fee.  Apparently Putin's cronies spend their summers in Saas Fee.  I would too!


Saas Grund from the bus


Walking into Saas Fee. 

We walked a few minutes down the main street looking for a cheap room, then walked back to the TI at the parking lot.  The TI told us the Hotel Popcorn had the cheapest rooms, which was the same thing TripAdvisor told me..  It seemed a little cheesy, but the room was fine and the view from our balcony was the essentially the same gorgeous view you see above.  I was worried because the room had earplugs, clearly intending to let you sleep while the bar on the main floor stays open until the wee hours.  We never saw another person in the bar, and we may have had the entire hotel to ourselves.


Hotel Popcorn is right in front of Kent through the trees.


Kent and I wandered all over town before deciding on a very Swiss place to eat.  I got pizza and beer, and Kent got the best chicken wings in the world.  He shared a few with me - they were amazing!
It rained on us a little as we made our way back to the hotel.
We collapsed and fell asleep shortly after dinner.

Saturday July 5, 2014
Hiking from Trient to Le Tour, then bus & train to Zermatt

Sunday July 6, 2014
Zermatt, Breithorn, and Saas Fee

Monday July 7, 2014
Saas Fee to Martigny