This was the third in the series of Aspirants meets, sponsored by the Alpine Club, situated in the Saas valley of Switzerland, and timed to be after the main tourist hordes have gone home.
Designed to give a safe introduction to the higher mountains for those new to the Alps, or as a refresher for older club members, we had a mix of 16 people from all parts of the UK and all walks of life, gathered in the Schoenblick hotel and campsite of Saas Grund.
As always the first two days were dedicated to safety and mountain training, and we were very lucky to have Mike ‘Twid’ Turner and Jon ‘Frog’ Wigg as our mountain guides, to give instruction in glacier traverse, crevasse rescue, and the essential skill of moving together climbing.
The weather was more than cooperative, with just one day of rain and a dusting of high snow in the two weeks. In general the rock routes were clear but the snow ridges very icy, most crucially an uncomfortably high freezing level and glaciers that had receded even further from previous years – many approaches becoming ever more dangerous with seracs and stonefall.
All the favourite mountains saw multiple ascents – Weissmiess, Nadelhorn, Allalinhorn, Mittaghorn, Dri Horlini, Jegihorn – plus notable adventures on Portjengrat, Alphubel Rotgrat, Breithorn traverse (both variants) and even a whistle-stop excursion up the Eiger. As usual a comprehensive meets record was kept, and we recorded 47 ascents on 11 different peaks – congratulations to all.
Notes by Barry Speed
With thanks as ever to Mira and Gilbert of the Schoenblick hotel, Jon and Twid our mountain guides, and of course to all the Aspirants who took part.
Attendees: Alex Murray, Barry Speed, Connor Austin, Helen Brown, Helen Jeffries, James Watts, Jeremy Collins, Manuel Staab, Marjan Schoeke, Mike Caine, Nick Haslam, Rhianwen Thomas, Robert Pineda, Sarah Charlton, Stephen Gandy