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Breithorn, 4167m… Third Time’s a Charm

Third time's a charm! I finally managed to ski down from Breithorn. Two failed attempts... and what a wonderful third one, with a high speed ski run down. So much fun to pass the climbers on a long trek, me going at 80 km/h while screaming from the top of my lungs as I passed them :-)

My first attempt was some years ago, interrupted by broken crampons and a hasty guide. My second attempt was getting to the top on a guiding group, but without skis. The purpose was to get to visit to the top, see how I'd do with the altitude, learn the route, and scout the skiing opportunities.

But again, for some reason the guide was in a hurry. Was there a reason we could only stop once on the way up? I would have wanted to take some photos & rest some more. And on the way down, we were almost running. Not sure I understood the point, it was still early I think so there was no safety issue. Maybe the guide was eager to get back home.

Anyway, the third time was perfect!

It wasn't possible to hire a guide for skiing this peak, so I was alone. But, I now had experience of the route and some understanding of the potential crevassed areas, and had skis, so felt confident that I could do this safely. I hadn't packed my own skins to the trip, but fortunately, I found a shop, Yosemite, that rented skins in Zermatt.

My plan was to skin up until the going got too tough, and then put on the crampons and walk the rest. It turned out that this was unnecessary; the path was steep at places, but quite workable even for skinning up.

I got to the top, and knew the recommended route down. Nevertheless, I had not seen anyone ski from Breithorn on the many days that I've been either on it or nearby, so I was a bit anxious about the route. I decided to ski down a bit more boring route on the upper part, near the short-cut steep walk-up path. Since I was near the walk path, I knew the crevasses situation was better, and this was also slightly less steep than the direct route down. On the upper part the hard snow cover was coming apart a bit as I skied it, so this was also a better route in terms of not sending snow down when there are climbers still coming up.

Once I reached the main walk path, I was able to cross to the other side of the rock outcrops, pass the crevasses, and then I was able to ski again, and was able to get some speed.

It was a great run, good snow, sunshine and an airy feeling. Happy I did this!







Our guiding group had two very friendly Japanse climbers. Here's one of them after the climb:


I also visited the ice cave at the top of the Klein Matterhorn:


At the end of the day, I was so tired that I found the long gondola ride down from the mountain very useful:

Photos and videos (c) 2016 by Jari Arkko. This blog is also available at the Blogspot site. Tämä blogi löytyy myös suomeksi Relaasta.

You learned a valuable insight into guides, they want to get rid of their clients as fast as possible. Because they are ambivalent about clients, and they just want their money. Good to see you did some on your own.

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