Into Ticino – a very long day 2

July 24th

Itinerary:  Binntal Hut – Ofenhorn (3235 m) – Hohsandhorn (3182 m) -Blinnenhorn (3373 m) – Corno Gries Hut

Distance: 25,0 km
Time taken: 14 hours
Vertical distance: 2170 m uphill; 2090 m downhill

We were committed to getting to the Corno Gries Hut:  Dave needed to get home the next day and I was meeting with Peter Rowat, an ex-climbing friend, who would be there this evening and would accompany me for the next 3-4 weeks.  When we mentioned Corno Gries to the hut warden, a nice lady, she almost said it was impossible but instead said it would be very difficult and long.  I did not dare tell her we intended to do three summits as well!  We left at 6 a.m. and were on the Ofenhorn 3 hours 15 minutes later.  It was foggy and misty all day, which did not help orientation.  Another problem was that the glaciers had retreated, leaving many rocky outcrops exposed that were not marked on our maps and GPS.  Nevertheless, we found our way to near the Hohsandjoch.  We had planned to go on to the Ober Hohsandjoch on the snow slopes below a rocky ridge, but Dave thought we could traverse the ridge to avoid losing height.  In the event this rocky ridge – unnamed on the map and hardly mentioned in the guide book – gave interesting but very time-consuming climbing, going around many gendarmes made of huge slabs of rock.  I estimate we lost up to an hour of precious time here.  From Ober Hohsandjoch to the Hohsandhorn was easy, as was the descent of the crevassed upper part of the Hohsand Glacier.  We then traversed across the whole South face of the Blinnenhorn, well below its SW ridge, on scree and snowfields, ending up at the top of a residual glacier.  Three pitches on rubble, where everything you stepped on slid down, took us to the ridge.  How Dave managed to lead these I will never understand!  However, we were on the summit at about 4.30 p.m. from where I was able to phone the hut warden, who was none too pleased with our arrival which would be late.  We finally reached the hut at 8 p.m. after navigating the Gries Glacier in the mist, and were welcomed by Peter (and wife Nona) who had persuaded the warden to keep some supper for us.

2 thoughts on “Into Ticino – a very long day

  • Urs

    Wow, Rupert, you seem te be flying. Got a hangglider on your back?
    And do you remember that we toured the area on ski in an earlier life?
    The epic Nefelgiu traverse and the icecold Maria Luisa hut. But fun it was. As you seem to have now. Keep it up, we admire you. Urs

  • Paul Newby (CUMC 1963 -...)

    Oh, Rupert, how do you do it, those 7 and 8 thousand foot ascent days, at your age? I think I am pretty lucky with every day, every outing, a bonus, but you are an example to us all! Take care too, and don’t run on empty till the end.

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