The Big Ones in 2017 My big tours up to some big mountains in the swiss alps

Skitour around the Aletsch Glacier Region, including climbing up to the Finsteraarhorn (4274 m)

As the Finsteraarhorn hut just opened for the season, we used the occasion to enjoy the silence of the Aletsch glacier region. We skied over the so called everlasting snow field to the Konkordia place. Everytime surprising again, how small men in this world of snow and ice seem to be. The stairs (over 100 meters from the glacier to the hut) give evidence of the times, where climate change still was a loanworld. We ascend with our skis, leaving the great Aletsch glacier and up to the Grünhornlücke. The afternoon sun merciless burns down on us. Even more beautiful it is, to reach the Finsteraarhorn hut.

The next day at 3 o'clock in the morning we start in direction of the Finsteraarhorn peak. There is no other ski track yet, seems we are the first one for the season as the hut just opened the day before. So we are enjoying the quietness also today. On the peak ridge in the main season you expect to find a good track, but nothing like this. Still and steady, step by step, we finally reach the highest peak of the Bernese alps in beautiful weather.

On day 3 the final tour, the descent down to the Valais, is following. The chosen route takes us over the Galmilücke. On this pass, the climate change unfortunately also can be seen very clear. The glacier went always further back in the last years. On the west side, a rotten channel leads into the Galmilücke. On the east side I could rope down 30 meters to the glacier. The climbing is not to difficult, but the rock is crumbly and not to recommend for beginners. Afterwards we drive downhill through the Laggicouloir down to the wild Münster valley. We can ski until the middle of the village Münster.

Climbing the Dom, the highest Swiss Mountain (4550 m)

Dom, Switzerlands highest mountain, thrones above the Matter valley. For a long time I had the wish to climb it. A tour that demands a very good physical condition, but compensates this by its wonderful view.

First, a 4 to 5 hour ascend from Randa has to be taken. Quite energy-sapping under the afternoon sun, but a short break at the Europa hut makes it easier. The second half of the ascend is very steep and in some places even secured with leaders and ropes. Reaching the Dom hut, the veranda with its view to the Valais alps with the famous Matterhorn makes me forgetting the steep way up. The view is just like a dream and already the hike to the Dom hut is worth it.

Early next morning at about 3 o'clock we start hiking in direction of the Dom over the Festi glacier. Just before reaching the Festijoch (pass) a short climbing passage must be mastered. Global warming leaves its signs also up here, the glacier gets thinner and shorter every year. Its already smaller than on the latest map, unfortunately. On the Festijoch we enjoy a beautiful sunrise together, with a view into the wonderful mountain world. Afterwards we take the normal route to the peak of the Dom, on 4'545 meters, where we enjoy the panorama with some other mountaineers. The following descent back to the hut takes us until noon. After a well deserved rest of 1 1/2 hours the hard descent of another 1'500 altidude meters until Randa is very tough to do on the same day.

An exhausting, not to difficult tour, with a wonderful view. Like to come back again to the unique mountain world of Valais, Switzerland.

Climbing up to the Eiger (3967 m)

Eiger is one of the most famous mountains with a long history about mountaineering. The Eiger north face is powerful and impressive high. What story's did we all here about it. As I am not that an experienced climber, I only dare to take the easier route over the Mittellegi ridge to the top. Still a very big challenge for myself.

On the first day I meet my mountain guide at the train station "Eismeer" of the Jungfrau railway. Checking the equipment and then out through the tunnel down to the glacier. Afterwards a short ascend to the Mittellegi hut. What a place to be! Directly on the slim ridge, the hut is overhanging on both its sides. The hospitality in the hut is great, all that you can expect in such an exposed, remote place.

Early next morning we climb into the Mittellegi ridge. Thin and leading directly to the peak. What an ascend, what a view and experience. We start in the dark, headlights on, and climb over the ridge that is sharp as a knife, directly into the sunset over Switzerland. Around 8 o'clock we savely reach the peak of the Eiger after traversing the ice field on top. Now the second part of the tour with the not less difficult descent and afterwards some up and down climbing parts over the Eigerjöcher. For lunch we arrive at the Mönchsjoch hut. With a lot of emotions and an unforgettable experience we there enjoy the as always good service of the team of Chrigel.

Rene Pfluger Photography, Switzerland, www.maletg.com

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Rene Pfluger
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