/ Nadelgrat tips

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jhw - on 13 Jun 2012
Trying to piece together the best way to do this traverse from start-finish in July, hypothetically, using a combination of the AC and Moran guidebooks.

Has anyone done it and how did you go about it? Keen to hear war stories, looks class
jon on 13 Jun 2012
In reply to jhw:

I did it a few years back. The main problem is getting on to it. The traditional way was/is the Dirruhorn Couloir. However this is more often than not a death trap. I went to the Bordier Hut. From here you can simply go back across the dry glacier and walk up to the Galenjoch, following a faint but marked path. From the Galenjoch you just follow the ridge over the tops until it ends at the Nadelhorn and then come down to the Windjoch(?) and go up the Ulrichshorn (this is easier and safer than trying to short cut down left) and then down the Reidgletscher and back to the hut. The Bordier gardien was very helpful especially with the route up to the Galenjoch. It's certainly the safest and most straightforward - and logical - way to do it.
jhw - on 13 Jun 2012
Thanks, helpful

Numpty question but is the done thing to do it in a day or do you break it up and bivvy en route?
jon on 13 Jun 2012
In reply to jhw:

Not numpty at all - it is long. We did it hut to hut in 13 hours. If you intend to bivvy you'll have a heavy sac - and for me that just destroys the enjoyment.
Fiskavaig on 13 Jun 2012
In reply to jhw:I thought the shortest and most straight forward route, was from the Mischabel hut, straight up the ridge from the hut, over Nadelhorn, and back down to the hut, via the windjoch.
jon on 13 Jun 2012
In reply to Fiskavaig:

That's the Lenzspitze > Nadelhorn traverse, not the Nadelgrat.
Simon4 - on 13 Jun 2012
In reply to jon: Still well worth doing though Jon?
jon on 13 Jun 2012
In reply to Simon4:

I thought it was superb, Simon. Shorter but much better rock than the Nadelgrat.
jhw - on 14 Jun 2012
Cool - we're in the Mischabel/Bordier area for a week and I'm just trying to get a sense of how the route options fit together - how would you play this?

Lenzspitze ENE ridge has got to be done as has the Lenzspitze NE Face

Maybe the Hohberghorn N Face as a warmup for Lenzspitze N Face but keen to do all types of terrain

The Nadelgrat I thought looked like a nice cohesive project for the week but it sounds slightly complex from what I'm reading and I'm not sure how to integrate it into the plans mentioned above

Cheers for tips!
jon on 14 Jun 2012
In reply to jhw:

Are you sure you want to do the Lenzspitze twice? It's quite a long day as you have to traverse to the Nadelhorn to get down and if you then do the Nadelgrat, you'll have done the Nadelhorn three times. OK, from the Nadelgrat you can avoid the last bit to the summit by traversing the big snow slope on the left - if you are brave enough!

I thought the ENE ridge of the Lenzspitze was far better than plodding up a big snow slope with dozens of other people and skiers coming down past you...! But that's just my preference, of course. So here's a good couple of days that run together nicely:

Day 1. Mischabelhutte > Lenzspitze (however you want) > Nadelhorn > Ulrichshorn > Bordier.
Day 2. Bordier > Galenjoch > Dirruhorn > Hoberghorn > Stecknadelhorn > Nadelhorn > Windjoch > Mischabelhutte.

On the way down to the Bordier you'd be able to assess the conditions of the Dirruhorn couloir if you didn't want to go via the Galenjoch. If I ever did the Nadelgrat again I'd certainly go via the Galenjoch without question.

Another option is to just tick the whole thing in one day, from the Lenzspitze to the Galenjoch. I set out to do just this once but was stormed off the Grand Gendarme of the Lenzspitze. In retrospect, having now done the Nadelgrat, it would have been an absolute monster day, so sometimes backing off something is a blessing in diguise!
jhw - on 14 Jun 2012
Really helpful information - thanks! Sounds like you've saved me from some very bad ideas!
Simon4 - on 16 Jun 2012
In reply to jon:

> I thought the ENE ridge of the Lenzspitze was far better than plodding up a big snow slope with dozens of other people and skiers coming down past you...! But that's just my preference, of course.

Interesting you say that. I must say the NE face (Dreiselwand) LOOKS compelling, but faces of that angle, while a spectacular situation, can often be pretty tedious climbing, e.g. Obergablehorn N face. I suspect that the traverse of Lyskamm is actually more interesting and more of a full-on Alpine day than the Welzenbach on the North face, though I've only done the latter and the face certainly is a fantastic situation.

ENE ridge of the Lenspitz sounds very good thing to do.


jon on 16 Jun 2012
Simon4 - on 16 Jun 2012
In reply to jon: Wow!

Impressive to do it so late with so much fresh snow!

Intruiging that they found the Guardians "super cool" - I have found them to be quite grumpy, or possibly just Swiss. Fine effort for them to carry snowboards up that slope.
Simon4 - on 17 Jun 2012
In reply to jon:

> I thought the ENE ridge of the Lenzspitze was far better than plodding up a big snow slope with dozens of other people and skiers coming down past you...!

What is the ridge from the Lenzspitz summit to the Nadelhorn summit like, in terms of technical difficulty? I presume that this is the only realistic way to descend, or could you reverse the ENE ridge?

jon on 17 Jun 2012
In reply to Simon4:

Well it's fantastic, but a lot longer and more complicated than you think it's going to be. It's in two parts - an easyish narrow ridge to the Nadeljoch followed by a series of teeth, sort of slabby on the Lenzspitze side and steeper on the Nadelhorn side. Thus most of the ridge after the Nadeljoch is hidden when you start off from the summit (of the Lenzspitze). Takes 2+ hours. It's certainly the standard route of descent. Reversing the ENE would be quite difficult, especially the Grand Gendarme bit, which you'd probably have to abseil - it was a couple of steep pitches as I remember. Overall, you probably wouldn't gain any time and you'd miss out on a superb traverse. Interestingly my old red AC guidebook (1975) describes the whole of the Nadelgrat - including the Lenzspitze - from the Domhütte in a N > S direction. The descent from the Lenzspitze is described by climbing down the south ridge to the Lenzjoch. Looking at the picture in the guide (which remember is nearly 40 years old), this appears as maybe the quickest means of descent - but of course you'd be on the wrong side of the mountain!
Simon4 - on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to jon:
> (In reply to Simon4)

Thanks for that Jon.

> Interestingly my old red AC guidebook (1975) describes the whole of the Nadelgrat - including the Lenzspitze - from the Domhütte in a N > S direction. The descent from the Lenzspitze is described by climbing down the south ridge to the Lenzjoch.

I looked up that guide and was amused to note that it gave the Lenzspitze-Nadelhorn traverse a grade of PD+. But then that was the same guidebook that gave the North buttress of the Dent Blanche D+! Whatever else you can say about the old guidebook writers, you can't accuse them of not having a sense of humour - even if a slightly malicious one.
MG - on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to Simon4: Did a certain Mr Colomb have a hand in these guides? I think he had a dice with the various alpine grades on it...
Simon4 - on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to MG:
> Did a certain Mr Colomb have a hand in these guides? I think he had a dice with the various alpine grades on it...

Yes, it was he!

Rather reminiscent of the legend that used to be told about "butch" bomber Harris, that he lived in luxury in a London hotel with a map of Germany on the wall. Every morning a servant would bring him a tray with a jewelled dart on it, which he would throw at the map. He would then pick up the phone to Bomber Command headquarters, to say "this is the commander in chief, the target for tonight is ...."

Not that these guides weren't inspirational, they were, while the diagrams were a model of clarity in their way and for their time. But using them as a source of accurate advice as to Alpine routes or their difficulties is as risky as following Gaston Rebuffat too precisely.

I have often spent lengthy periods cursing Mr Collomb with some of the foulest profanities possible. Or would have done, had I not been more pre-occupied with staying alive at the time, subsequent to very unwisely taking his advice seriously.

rif on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to MG:
He was certainly the editor of the 1968 AC guide which I still have. The times, as well as the grades, were pretty challenging.

And yes, you do wonder how he chose a grade of D for the N buttress of the Dent Blanche (not that I've done it to find out how hard it really is). Two I have done which he undergraded are the Younggrat on the Breithorn ("AD+", but seemed just as hard and serious as the "TD+" Welzenbach route further right) and the N face of Mont Collon ("D", but have a look at the pic in my gallery).
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MG - on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to rif:
("D", but have a look at the pic in my gallery).

Hmm - is that vertical?

(Step-cutting!!!)
jon on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to rif:
> (In reply to MG)
> The times, as well as the grades, were pretty challenging.

Indeed. For the Nadelgrat, Domhütte > Domhütte (including the Lenzspitze as I mentioned above) "he says 9h. is commonplace". He also gives 45mins for the Nadelhorn > Lenzspitze section!
MG - on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to jon: He can be wildly out in either direction with times.

I have a copy of the book by him that catalogues all the peaks in the (western) alps. It also puts a star by the ones he climbed. This can be helpful because if he has climbed a peak there is fighting chance the route description he gives will be OK. If he hasn't, treat it with extreme caution.
rif on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to MG:
No alternative to step-cutting in 1969! At the time I reckoned that pitch was Nevis III-IV, so my partner may have tilted the photo slightly. The next and final pitch was quite a bit harder, overhanging at the start.
Simon4 - on 18 Jun 2012
In reply to rif: Some great pictures in your gallery. Not necessarily photographically great, but very evocative.

I've always heard that the Innominata is a fantastic route in a very remote and serious part of the MB massif.
mattrm - on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to jhw:

Looks really good I have to say. Been trying to find the grade, anyone know?
jon on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to mattrm:

Do you mean for the Nadelgrat, AD seems reasonable: http://www.camptocamp.org/routes/53805/fr/nadelhorn-nadelgrat-ou-traversee-hohberghorn-nadelhorn-par...

Probably one of the longer outings in the area, though.
mattrm - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to jon:

Yeah, looks like it's AD, found a couple of pages that indicated that last night. That camp to camp link is good however.
Conan - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to jon:
>
> Day 1. Mischabelhutte > Lenzspitze (however you want) > Nadelhorn > Ulrichshorn > Bordier.
> Day 2. Bordier > Galenjoch > Dirruhorn > Hoberghorn > Stecknadelhorn > Nadelhorn > Windjoch > Mischabelhutte.
>

That is a really good idea Jon. Must try this next time I do these routes
mattrm - on 26 Jun 2012
In reply to jhw:

There's a good video of the traverse. The gully looks a bit grim.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJkjam6i5Zo
chris bedford - on 27 Jun 2012
In reply to mattrm:

> There's a good video of the traverse. The gully looks a bit grim.
>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJkjam6i5Zo

Nice video. But the gully is nothing like as bad (and the ridge nowhere near as narrow) as it makes it look. You break out onto rocks to the right of the gully fairly soon and use metal stanchions for belays to the top, moving together all the way. But this was in 2004 and maybe the Galenjoch is the safer way to start the traverse these days.....
jon on 27 Jun 2012
In reply to chris bedford:
> (In reply to mattrm)
> But this was in 2004 and maybe the Galenjoch is the safer way to start the traverse these days.....

I think the way to look at is that if you are going from the Bordierhütte, the Galenjoch is the safest and most logical route. There is zero objective danger and and you don't have to make the aller-retour trip to include the Dirruhorn. Coming from the Mischabelhütte then obviously the couloir is the only logical way - to get to the Galenjoch from the Mischabelhütte you'd have to walk down past the Bordier! When I walked back down the Reidgletscher it was very clear that the couloir was no more than a muddy smear. I'll load up a photo when I've got time.

I hate those helmet cam things... they're so wobbly and the wide angle distorts everything. As you say, the ridge is nowhere near that narrow.
mattrm - on 27 Jun 2012
In reply to jon:

I'm assuming that the gully is the Dirruhorn Couloir mentioned earlier on in the thread?

That's a relief about the ridge, it looks really narrow in the video and I was finding that quite off putting.
jon on 27 Jun 2012
In reply to mattrm:

Here's the lower Nadelgrat from the Reidgletscher. The left hand couloir (in the middle of the pic, between the Hohberghorn and the Dirruhorn) and its true L flank, is the normal access to the Hohbergjoch. The righthand couloir leads to the Dirrujoch (to the right of the Dirruhorn). My old AC/Collomb guide book describes both. Which did you use Chris? This picture was July 2005: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=200490

A view of the ridge showing it a little less airy than the video: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=200487 Stecknadelhorn, Nadelhorn and Lenzspitze.
jhw - on 27 Jun 2012
These photos are extremely helpful - thanks. We're going to do the 2-day trip you recommended above!
mattrm - on 28 Jun 2012
In reply to jhw:

Looks like the Couloir is getting empty already:

https://twitter.com/brucegoodlad/status/218328745013026816

"Fantastic day in the Valais traversed 4 4000ers on the Nadelgrat. Couloir to the Dirrujoch only just snowy enough." - Bruce Goodlad - 28th June, on twitter if you don't want to follow the link.
chris bedford - on 02 Jul 2012
In reply to jon:
Which did you use Chris? This picture was July 2005: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=200490

We used the nasty looking smear to the Hohbergjoch, then aller-retour to the Dirruhorn. Much better when we did it the previous year - but wasn't the early summer of 2005 very hot?? I like the idea of the Galenjoch approach which would give a continuous traverse and no doubling back.

> A view of the ridge showing it a little less airy than the video: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=200487 Stecknadelhorn, Nadelhorn and Lenzspitze.

Still looks narrower than I remember! But photos can also make things look gnarlier than they often are (good for showing to friends or for terrifying relatives....). Or maybe I was braver 8 years ago.


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