One of the classic mountains of the Zermatt area along with its lower near neibour Pollux forms "the twins" or zwillinge as the locals call it. Located between the Monta Rosa Massif and Breithorn and behind Lyskamm it is an execlent peak to hone one's alpine skills on.
The classic route starts at the Monte Rosa hut up and over the Zwillingsgletscher to the border ridge to the summit. This is a long hump over 6-8 hours one way. Because of crevasses it is not recommend as a solo route.
With the advent of the Kline Matterhorn cable car it can be climbed directly by traversing south-east across the glacier for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to the summit base then about a 45 minute push to the top.
There is a danger of avalanche depending on snow conditions and the odd crevasse but mostly one has to watch out for the large number of other climbers. It is a very popular climb for guides with beginners so the summit can have upwards of 100+ people on it.
One interesting tidbit a guide passed on to me was that in winter when one is traversing under the Breithorn one must keep a constant eye out for skiers coming down. There have been quite a few incidents of skiers getting clothes lined when trying to pass between members of a climbing party causing both parties to come to grief
Look at the Monte Rosa hut post for the best way to get there.
The Klein Matterhorn Cable Car station can be reached by taking the Cable Car all the way from Zermatt or one can hike up to it from the Gandegg hut in about a 1/2 to 1 hour walk.
One could also stay at the Hotel Schwarzsee which is furter away than Gandegg at about 1-1/2 hours hike.
From the Italian Side you could try the following;
Two sub-valleys of Val d'Aosta drive to Castor.
Gressoney valley - from this one you can get the Rif. Quintino Sella (3585m) where the start of the italian normal route at Colle di Felik (4061m) can easily be reached.
Ayas valley - from this one you can get the Rif. Mezzalama (3004m) from wich you can reach the summit in 3 different ways :
- south wall and SW ridge - AD
- NW wall of SW spur - TD/ED
- NW ridge - the ski-mountaneering route from south : with ski till Colle di Verra (3848m)
Castor is the main difficulty of the famous ski-mountaneering contest "trofeo Mezzalama", a big course with ski that starts from Teodulo (Cervinia) and ends in Gressoney, after having passed the Liskamm nose.
None. But do get the rescue insurance for 30fr from air Zermatt and a cell phone incase you get in trouble.
When To Climb
Good at all times except when there are heavy snow conditions can cause local avalanches. It is very crowded from July to September with 100+ people on the route not uncommon.
What's In a Name
"The Twins" is actually a apt name for two mountains that look almost exactly alike and sit close to each other. This is the name the locals most likely used for many years (Just a guess on my part).
The first asscent was in 1861 by two englishme W. Mathews and F. W. Jacomb.
What I do know that the individual names Castor and Pollox (more properly Polydeuces in greek and Pollox in Latin) come from Greek mythology. Like most geek myths there are many different versions of the story of the Twins.
According to one they were sons of Zeus born out of swan's eggs (actually quite apt metaphor when one see the peaks) by another they were sons of Tyndareus and Leda and had a minor role in the battle of troy.
No matter how you slice it looks to me that these names were transplanted to the peaks by 18th and 19th century visitors, Greek and Roman mythology was very popular at that time and it makes good sense.
The idea that they are named for the constellation Gemini I think is far fetched even though the actual contellation Gemini does represent these twins and a quick check with a computer program I have confirms that the contilation Gemin does rise above this spot in the summer if you happen to be sitting on top of Gornergrat. Though you can barely make them out from there as they are obscured by Liskamm.
Check out the Miscellaneous Info comments for a quick review of one version of the Twins Myth from OM.
- Gandegg Hut
A hut that is closer to the Trockener Steg in German only
- Monte Rosa - 10 4000ers in 1 week!
- Refuge Quintino Sella
Only italian version
- Monte Rosa: Breithorn, Dufourspitze, Castor by Zwillingsgletscher
- Castor at www.4000er.de
Images, routes, coordinates and more information about the highest peaks of the Alps
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