OverviewThe ENE-ridge over Wellenkuppe is the normalroute from the Rothornhütte. It combines an easy glacier walk and some rock climbing to the Wellenkuppe with an traverse over an exposed ridge composed of snow with rock climbing to the summit of the Ober Gabelhorn. On the ridge you have a nice view into the north face of the Ober Gabelhorn. On a nice day, the view from the summit can spread from the Mischabel-group with the Lenzspitze, Dom and Täschhorn over the Monte Rosa with its numberous 4000m peaks to the famous neighbours of the Ober Gabelhorn, the Matterhorn, Dent Blanche and Zinalrothorn.
First Ascent: L. Norman-Neruda and Christian Klucker on August, 1th 1890.
Getting ThereThe route starts from the Rothornhütte (3198m) which can be reached by an easy but rather long approach from the centre of Zermatt (1614m) - 4,5 hours.
From the centre of Zermatt a steep path through the forest leads to Alterhaupt (1961m), from here the path becomes less steep and continues to Trift (2336m) - 2 hours from Zermatt.
From Trift, follow the signs to the Rothornhütte, which first leads through the valley and then over a morraine to the hut - 2,5 hours from Trift.
Route DescriptionFrom the Rothornhütte a path leads to the glacierplateau of the Triftglacier. The path follows the direction of the Triftjoch keeping to the west-side on the glacier and later turning south. From here the path leads to the left in the direction of the Wellenkuppe up a snow shoulder (p. 3640m) - 1,5 hours.
From here the route continues on rock. Follow the E-ridge untill the first vertical part, traverse left under this wall. As soon as possible turn right in the direction of a again back to the right heading for a chimney (friend). Climb it to reach the so called "Kanzel" and subsequently continue over the wide slabby ridge for approximately 100m to reach a vertical wall. Traverse to the left over a broad ledge and subsequently climb in western direction over blocks, avoid some towers by keeping left to reach the last slabby part of the ridge. Climb the slabs by making use of the cracks to reach the snow ridge to the summit of the Wellenkuppe (3903m) - 1 hour.
Descent from the summit of the Wellenkuppe over the snowfield to the base of the Grand Gendarme (3870m). Climb the Gendarme which is secured with a fixed rope in the upper 2/3. From the top of the Gendarme descent to reach the snow ridge - 1 hour.
Follow this snow ridge to the rock of the summitridge. Climb it to reach the last steep part just under the Gabel. Climb this through a wide crack to the right and subsequently to left over slabs to reach the point at which the SE-ridge joins (III). Two towers are climbed to reach the summit - 1 hour.
Additional remarks: The rocksections are secured with hooks or webbings, if you feel secure in rock up to III+ no additional artificial equipment will be needed.
The webbings are in most cases also equipped with a maillon rapide for rappeling.
DescentFor the descent three possible routes are presented. Each of the possibilities leads down to another hut or biwak. Probably a descent over the ascent-route can be most recommended as this is a familiar route.
1. Descent over the ENE-ridge to the Rothornhütte
Descent the first part to the snow ridge by rappeling. Everything is in place to rappel with a 50m rope. At the Grand gendarm you can rappel again to reach the snow ridge towards the Wellenkuppe. At the Wellenkuppe, three rappels and some easy terrain lead to the snow schoulder at 3640m. From there easy over the glacier to the Rothornhütte.
2. Descent over the NNW-ridge to the Cabane du Mountet
3. Descent over the WSW-ridge (Arbengrat) to the Arbenbiwak
The Descent over the Abengrat can cause some problems if you are not familiar with the route. Climb down over terrain up to III. Rappelanchors are also in place although rappel will take longer. The large gendarm (grosser Gendarm) has to be rappel, 10 and 15m. The small gendarm (kleiner Gendarm) is kept on your right, climbing over slabs in the S-face. This is the first 1/3 of the descent. After the second 2/3 it is important to leave the ridge on the correct location. The description in the guidebook does not describe this well, but fortunately it is marked with a stoneman. At this location the ridge is left and the descent is continued in the south face. Descent over the ledge until you reach the glacier at the base of the south face. From there head Southwest descenting the short glacier. Subsequently follow the path to the biwak, marked with stonemans.
Essential Gear50m rope, crampons, ice axe, biners
LiteratureHochtouren im Wallis - Vom Trient zum Nufenenpass, Herman Biner, SAC-führer (2002)
Clubführer Walliser Alpen 3 - Vom col Collon zum Theodulpass, Maurice Brandt (2004)
Alle viertausender der Alpen, Peter Donatsch, AT verlag (2007)