Our Easter Mountain Adventure, Climbing Tete de Valpelline in Switzerland was our challenge for the Easter weekend.
The expedition was proposed and organized by Syril who also organized the rental of equipment for those of us that didn’t have it all.
Our team was made up of 9 people from 6 different nationalities, different backgrounds, wide age range and experience.
As usual for these trips, it was promoted on a private Whatsapp group, the Mountain Adventure, which has a large group of members. There was the usual flurry of interest which died down as people, for a number of personal reasons were unable to make it. Reasons included being stuck in nearby countries due to Covid rules.
Day 1 – Of the Easter Mountain Adventure
The team met up on the way to Zermatt on Friday, on the train. Introductions were made and a get to know each other was entered into as the train headed to Zermatt.
On arrival in Zermatt we unloaded and proceeded to redistribute the equipment and group food amongst the team members.
Two tents (A six person and 4 person) and an additional rope were loaded and tied onto a Expediton sledge.
In Zermatt village, two of us had to take hold of an end each and carry the sledge through the town to the Gondola Lift Station.
Taking the Gondola from Zermatt reduced the hiking time that would have been required to climb up to the Schwarzsee Gondola stop at 2600m.
We stopped for lunch next to the gondola station. Once lunch was over, we hiked down towards the Zmuttgletscher, stopping only to put on snowshoes.
We hiked down the ski piste then down to the valley floor and up to the Zmuttgletscher. This is where we put on our harnesses then we split into two groups, one of 4 and one of 5 and roped ourselves together. This is done as a safety precaution in case of the possibility of someone dropping into a crevasse on the glacier. Although at this time of the year on this glacier there were very few crevasses to see due to thick snow covering them.
The sledge was dragged by Syril with Kuba as the brake when descending. This was done by Kuba also being attached to the rear of the sledge from his harness.
Camping on the Zmuttgletscher
The objective today was to reach our first nights camping area. Which was near a partially frozen pond. That was good as it gave us a water supply that did not need to be melted before being heated. A toilet was dug and the two tents erected. While that was happening Yaron was organizing the nights meal.
Once the sun goes down behind the mountains or clouds here, the temperature drops fast. So everybody is putting on more layers of clothing. With a predicted overnight temperature of down to -13 C, it was an early night and into the sleeping bags to keep warm.
Day 2- Hiking to the 3000m base camp
Up early this morning as it does take some time in the cold, for people to get dressed/changed and to pack away sleeping bags, mats etc. then eat breakfast and take down the tents. With the total time taken up to 3 hours.
Our next campsite today is 800m higher up the glacier. The climb was steep but manageable. Plenty of ski tour groups passed us going up.
An early arrival at our chosen campsite meant we could erect the two tents, construct a kitchen and toilet.
From the campsite we hiked further up the glacier to do some crevasse and avalanche recovery training.
Day 3 – Climbing Tete de Valpelline 3800m
An early start for the day to make sure we reached the peak by midday.
Staying in our two groups, linked together and wearing snowshoes, we started climbing the remaining 800 meters to the peak.
We arrived on the peak by 11:30, a little earlier than expected. There was already a ski tour group on the peak doing their photo op.
It was our turn for a photo op and a view of many snowy peaks stretching away in all directions on both sides of the Swiss and Italian border.
Just down from the peak was a small hollow that provided protection from the wind. An ideal place for a lunch break.
On our descent back to our base camp, we made a detour to an ice cave. There were some stunning, long ice stalactites hanging from an icy overhang.
Day 4 – The end of the Easter Mountain Adventure
Time to pack up the tents and cleanup the campsite and begin our return trip to Zermatt. The plan is to hike all the way down to the Zermatt village and catch the train home from there.
Our hike took us back down the Zmuttgletscher then onto the Ski pistes to Zermatt. Back to civilization and crowds.
Thank you Team for the use of your photos and videos
Tips before the trip
These trips are very much a team effort with everybody helping each other. There will be times when you will be cold and tired, especially when you aren’t used to hiking at a high altitudes with a heavy backpack.
How to use:
Personal Equipment List
- Sunglasses + ski glasses
- Sun screen + lip balm
- Toilet paper (A roll of some, not all)
- Spoon, cup & plate
- 1.5L of water
- Thermo flask
- Snacks for in between the meals (Light and dried e.g., nuts, dried fruits, power bars etc)
- 3 lunches for yourself (E.g., sandwich, also light weight)
- Hiking/mountain boots or Snow boots. (Renting is not recommended as the boots may not fit correctly and can result in blisters/injuries. The boots also need to be able to fit crampons.
- 2 pairs of gloves (Thin ones and winter gloves)
- Warm hat
- Scarf or something to put around your face to protect from the cold wind.
- 3 Long sleeve top layers (e.g long thermal shirt, thin pullover, thick pullover or a fleece)
- 3 long trousers (E.g., long thermal underwear x 2 + hiking or ski tour trousers.
- 2 pairs of socks (Thick inner and thin outer to lower friction in your boots)
- Wind and water proof jacket with a hood or a Ski jacket. (Not just for rain and wind protection but also keeps you dry when and if you have to build an igloo or snow cave.)
- Wind and water proof trousers
- Winter/ski or down jacket
- Winter/ski trousers
- Large Backpack minimum of 65L as there is a requirement for all team members to carry a portion of the group food and equipment.
- Headlamp plus spare batteries
- Sleeping Bag (+ Sleeping bag liner to protect the sleeping bag)
- Sleeping mat (When on glacier and snow trips, 2 mats are recommended e.g. 1 inflatable thermal mat and a thinner reflective mat to lay underneath for extra warmth)
- Small first aid kit includes blister plasters, normal plasters, anticipant and any personal medication.
This will depend on the type of trip.
- Climbing harness (Plus carabiniers, slings of different lengths, spare 2 m x 6 mm cord, prusik and ice screws if required)
- Tent 4 Seasons.(Normally there will be 1 or 2 group tents)
- Ice axe (50 cm + length)
- Avalanche equipment. (LVS Barry fox, probe and snow shovel)
- Climbing rope 30 – 50 meters.
- Multi fuel cooking stoves with spare parts.
A lot of the above equipment can be rented or borrowed.