AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Europe, Switzerland, Swiss Alps, Grosshorn, North Face, Berneroberland

Grosshorn, North Face, Berneroberland. On September 2 and 3 Phillip Fanchon and I climbed the north face of the Grosshorn by a new route. We followed the Welzenbach route through the first rock band and then, instead of traversing left toward the northeast ridge, continued straight up to the prominent col just west of the main summit. This season’s peculiar weather left most of the 3600-foot, 50° to 60° face above the bergschrund hard water ice, in places with a cover of rotten shingles. We approached the col via the first couloir west of the main summit, which contained 60°+ water ice, rotten near the top. The cruxof the climb is a 25-foot-high vertical to overhanging “waterfall” which traverses a rock band halfway up the couloir. I took a 65-foot free leader fall on this pitch, which was just above our bivouac spot. I ripped out two pitons (a soft-iron one in rock and a wart-hog in rotten ice) and put a 40° bend in the end of a solidly placed 25cm tube screw. I suffered a sprained ankle, broken ribs, facial lacerations and a bruised psyche. The difficult mixed climbing of the crux led to a broken area. We then had to traverse right into the upper part of the adjacent couloir. From there a pitch and a half of steep ice led to the corniced west ridge. The last four pitches took seven hours to climb, including the fall.

John Shervais