Switzerland

Transition from Klein Matterhorn to Castor

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Transition from Klein Matterhorn to Castor
Inserted: 01.05.2018
© gigaplaces.com
They want there:

Wallis in the palm of your hand. Ascents to Breithorn West (4164 m), Breithorn Central (4159 m), Castor (4228 m). With skis on his legs and back. Mountains in the sun, mountains in the clouds, fog and white blindness. Rescue of Italian and German tourists. In the end, they themselves were imprisoned in Cervinia due to a snowstorm. End of April 2018.

Skiing on the Swiss-Italian border

The original plan was to go from Klein Matterhorn to Monte Rosa, from there down the Monte Rosa-Gletscher glacier to Zermatt, where we left. However, the weather forced us to shorten the plan, strong winds and heavy snowfall came (half a meter of new snow was reported on the Dufourspitze), so there were three of the original five days of crossing, but we can not complain about the experience, on the contrary, the mountains showed off in real extremes . The picture shows the four thousand ridge of western, central and eastern Breithorn, Roccia Nera and in the distance Pollux and Castor in ideal weather, which prevailed the first day.

Skiing on the Swiss-Italian border
Author: Markéta Fibigerová © gigaplaces.com

By car to Täsche, by train to Zermatt

Day zero

We get up at half past two in the morning, ten hours ahead of us, we park the car in Täsch, cars are not allowed in Zermatt. The goal is to catch the cable car to the Klein Matterhorn and sleep at three and a half thousand to acclimatize and also save time. There is already a late spring in Zermatt, the temperature is around twenty degrees, we really stand out in the heat – in jumps (we don't have other shoes with us), in seats hung with glacier equipment (it doesn't fit much in an avalanche backpack). We wear all our clothes and still carry about fifteen kilos on our backs; he weighs the airbag (the eternal dilemma of whether to take it). The trip to the Klein Matterhorn (3883 m) is a pleasure for sixty Swiss francs, it is the highest place in the Alps equipped with a cable car, so the Swiss will pay for it. From Klein Matterhorn we descend to the Italian side to a place called Plato Rosa (Testa Grigia) – 3480 m, where we have arranged a night in a mountain hut. The price is the same as for the cable car, but in Euros and with dinner and breakfast. It is a common routine in alpine huts and saving half board is not worth it, you would not even get tea in a thermos.

On the way up view of the Matterhorn

A view of the Matterhorn from the Swiss side, the typical, postcard and breathtaking one that you just have to take a picture of. Ascents are not on the agenda at this time of year, there is too much snow, but in summer the Matterhorn is occupied by hundreds of climbers, both from the Swiss and Italian sides.

On the way up view of the Matterhorn
Author: Markéta Fibigerová © gigaplaces.com

View from Klein Matterhorn towards Italy

View from the top of the Klein Matterhorn to the Italian side, to the right you can see the Matterhorn again, interesting how the mountain looks different from this side, far from being so majestic as to spoil the profile of Pic Tyndall? In the lower left corner of the picture you can see Plato Rosa – 3480 m, the place from where we set off, it is also the highest point on the Italian side, which can be reached from Cervinia by cable car.

View from Klein Matterhorn towards Italy
Author: Markéta Fibigerová © gigaplaces.com

When you're upstairs and your ski pin falls out

Day first

Pin means part of the „trap“ on a alpine ski. It is the part of the binding at the front that holds the boot, you can't go skiing without it. However, you can go down on it, in a very interesting way, you can either go straight, plow or turn to only one side. This is exactly the kind of ride Radek gave the first day, still lucky that the defect occurred right away, so he went to Cervinia and started looking for service. So far, Honza and I have fought Breithorn. It was a beautiful day, bathed in sunshine (evening burnt face), good visibility, but quite windy. Honestly, it was windy enough that taking off the ski straps in that wind so that they wouldn't fly off, I think the skis were quite a performance. The descent was miserable, the frozen snow was clean ice in places, and the crust would have been better. We turned into the saddle to Breithorn Central and climbed it only lightly with an ice ax and cats. Radek, meanwhile, found out that his service would not be repaired by any service, the same pin was not available, so he borrowed other skis and headed upstairs behind us. He was heading straight under Polux to make it work out in time, the day was really good to see, we postponed the ascent to Pollux for another day, saying that we would not miss it. For the completeness of the narrative and to instruct the readers, it should be added that we diversified the descent to the cottage with a crack „extempore“, because this happens when you feel that you are smarter than the map. We understood that we were talking about life quite early, but in order to really write it down behind our ears, we not only had to get out of the cracks, but as a punishment we still ascend to Pollux – about three hundred meters of altitude. Pollux itself from the place from which we turned badly … At the cottage Rifugio Guide d'Ayas Che Guevara rules – the revolution is a flag and a shout, but the atmosphere is really nice, the parties of the language are available exclusively Italian, for punk staff there are surprisingly clean and tidy. The staff was scarce, including about twenty of us, a group led by a guide.

View east from the top of Breithorn

View of the Breithorn Centrale (4159 m) at the exit from Breithorn West (4164 m). Breithorn is generally available four-thousanders, which has five vertices, all of which count and are listed as separate four-thousanders. The goat.cz server has the most apt description in this respect: „Breithorn or Broad Peak is a mountain that failed. A decent hill has one peak, but Breithorn has somehow spread and has five.“ Breithorn Centrale is the snowfall in the picture on the far left, walking a few meters from the edge is quite an uplifting feeling.

View east from the top of Breithorn
Author: Markéta Fibigerová © gigaplaces.com

View from the cottage Rifugio Guide d'Ayas (3350 m)

Looking upwards, into the clouds over the cottage, the picture is taken from the heliport in front of the cottage. In the background you can clearly see the cracks that we got to when we descended to the cottage.

View from the cottage Rifugio Guide d'Ayas (3350 m)
Author: Markéta Fibigerová © gigaplaces.com

We are waiting in the garden for the sun

Day two

We left the cottage around seven in the morning in complete fog, feeling like it was going to tear upstairs. It didn't tear. In addition, Radek got lost on the way, he was about ten meters away and suddenly disappeared. Apparently he had gotten used to the day before that he could walk alone, boy one. He then waited under the boarding of Pollux, which he identified by the orange peels and dug a hole to keep it from freezing. Mobile phones are quite useless when moving across the state border, they jump from network to network and look for the ideal operator, which mainly discharges their flashlight. Whistling has proven to be much more effective, especially if you are looking for someone a few meters away. The sun did not set that day, we gave it up quite quickly, at an altitude of 3800 m it is quite difficult to wait, even in the countryside. A strong experience was just to return to the cottage, we celebrated my birthday there, the advantage at this altitude is that you do not need much alcohol.

View of the Rifugio Guide d'Ayas chalet as you climb from it

Half past six in the morning. The clouds had dropped below the level of the hut the night before, and we had mesmerized them so that they would stay there and not rise higher.

View of the Rifugio Guide d'Ayas chalet as you climb from it
Author: Markéta Fibigerová © gigaplaces.com

Castor and traverse back to Klein Matterhorn

Day three

We left the cottage at six o'clock in the morning. Unfortunately, the forecast for this and the next days was bad: mostly cloudy, wind, gradually coming heavy snow. We finally gave up the Castor crossing, but we decided to at least look at it. At the same time as we, a French guide with two clients was leaving the cottage, we kept them in sight, if the fog fell again, the guide would know the way. We climbed the already familiar four hundred meters above the cottage in about an hour and began to climb briskly to Castor. A strong wind was rising, we were walking in the shadow of the northwest side and our hands were quite freezing. After a few ice passages, we added harshayns to the belts, and in about two-thirds of the ascent, we changed into cats. We stuck our skis in the snow, it was useless to carry them up. There is a section of about twenty meters in front of the top saddle, which is really steep, the guide secured it in front of us with a rope over the pole from the saddle, where he had to climb. We decided to handle it on an ice ax like him and secure it on the way down. After the lift to the saddle, you are practically at the top, to the main peak you have to complete a sixty-meter narrow and quite exposed ridge. We managed to do it for almost a minute, when we returned from the top to the safety pole, the clouds were already moving and we were quickly surrounded by a white mist. The way down was not difficult, but mainly because we knew where the road led, it was not possible to go skiing, you could not see a step, we rather shoved it, but at the bottom it stretched for a while and we enjoyed what it is feeling of descending from the four thousand on skis.

Castor 4228 m
Author: Markéta Fibigerová © gigaplaces.com

Castor 4228 m

Castor ridge overlooking the main peak. The path is 30 – 40 cm wide. The saddle is located on a relatively steep slope to the right.

On top of the world
Author: Markéta Fibigerová © gigaplaces.com

On top of the world

Road along the ridge of Castor.

Abseiling from the saddle of Castor

It is only a few meters, but they have a slope of 45 – 50 °. The safety point is an iron rod that will hold the pull down, but if you take it, it will remain in your hand.

Abseiling from the saddle of Castor
Author: Markéta Fibigerová © gigaplaces.com

Traverse in the fog

Throughout the traverse under Pollux and Breithorn, we were accompanied by white blindness. It was endless and quite exhausting, after a few hours you start to be completely scattered, not only does you not perceive the direction, but you do not perceive the slope either well. At the level of central Breithorn, we came across two Italians running around in confusion and calling to go to Cervinia. In fine weather, they climbed West Breithorn and had neither a cell phone nor a map. Instead of going to Cervinia, they headed for Castor. When we showed them where they were, they decided to join us. We understood that the devil owed them relatively soon, because every few meters they shouted that they knew it there and that we were going wrong. It went so far that we told them to go alone, but they refused. To make matters worse, we soon met two more Germans, standing against each other and trying to determine the direction with a compass. What followed is just a desperate example of how bad it can be. Not only were they unable to move, one cried and called not to leave them there, literally: "So we didn't leave them there and after a while we almost hit the cable car on Klein Matterhorn. https://youtu.be/gEVXbBp60aY

Trapped in Cervinia for a snowstorm

Day four

We really enjoyed the ski run the day before, you will sometimes appreciate civilization. On arrival we booked the most reasonably priced hotel via mobile phone; at the reception they didn't quite understand that we were standing in the doorway in twenty minutes. Radek returned the borrowed skis, in the hotel slippers we went to the city for pizza, we are used to exhibitionism. The plan for the morning was clear, take the first cable car up and down to Zermatt. But what was our surprise when the lady at the cash register told us that the cable car does not run to Plato Rosa, because a snowstorm is raging upstairs, we say we have to wait, maybe it will get better. We started figuring out how to get there, and after an hour of waiting, the decision was made to step on it. Someone probably took pity on us at that moment, because the cable car was released and we were just warned that the ski slope to Zermatt was closed and that it was dangerous. It wasn't so dangerous, in some places it was even very nice powder, it just blew up so that it threw with a man and a loaded backpack, but Radek had the most interesting ride with the broken binding.

Drive to the closed piste above Zermatt

It didn't go any further, so we loaded the skis on our backs and pedaled nicely, spring was already in full swing in the valley.

Drive to the closed piste above Zermatt
Author: Markéta Fibigerová © gigaplaces.com
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