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Climbing Matterhorn in early May

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Climbing Matterhorn in early May

Postby Liga » Wed Feb 14, 2007 9:18 am

Does anybody know how realistic it is to do normal (Hornli) route on Matterhorn in May? What are the conditions usually around that time of the year?
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Postby Tom Fralich » Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:16 am

Very snowy. The season for climbing the Matterhorn usually doesn't start until July. I climbed it in late-June in 2005, which is considered pretty early. But it had been very hot for all of June, so the route came into condition a bit early. The Hornli Hut doesn't usually open until July either, but one can stay at the winter hut before the opening date. May is still very much spring conditions in the Alps and people are usually still skiing at that time. Forget about the Matterhorn in May.
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Postby Charles » Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:57 pm

I would second Tom´s comments. Only to add, it´s been a funny old winter here so far, very warm with little snow. It´s bezaare enough at the moment for it to be in condition!!! :roll:
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Postby Ski Mountaineer » Wed Feb 14, 2007 3:51 pm

I would not be too sure. Ask in Zermatt (mtn guide office) in April/May how much snow they had. If it goes on like that season will start much earlier than usually.
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Postby Charles » Wed Feb 14, 2007 4:02 pm

Thin Air wrote:I would not be too sure. Ask in Zermatt (mtn guide office) in April/May how much snow they had. If it goes on like that season will start much earlier than usually.


After this winter so far I wunder what kind of summer season we´ll have this year!
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Postby Ski Mountaineer » Wed Feb 14, 2007 4:23 pm

Yeap, could be "different". But then now is the time fpr Adria Low Pressure systems, they could bring a bit of snow to everything above 2500-3000m.
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Postby Tom Fralich » Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:08 pm

The alps are often dry through Jan and Feb...the heaviest snowfall typically comes in April. It has snowed 80+cm at 3000m in Chamonix in the last 4 days, so there is snow accumulating now, despite the somewhat dry conditions over the last few weeks. Even in very dry years like 2003, the Matterhorn was not in "summer condition" by May. And I'd be willing to make a sizable wager that it will not be this year either. Of course, the Hornli ridge can be climbed at any time and is descended routinely by people making winter and spring ascents of the N face. But I believe we're discussing typical "in season" conditions when relative novices can make the ascent and the rock is generally dry. Of course, anything is possible. But I wouldn't plan a trip weeks or months in advance, hoping to make an ascent in May. I'd say there's about a 1% chance.
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Postby Ski Mountaineer » Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:49 pm

Generally I agree (except that thing about most precip in April but that is not important here and can be different in the West than here), and chances are more towards "not in condition". 2004/2005 was among the driest winters in the Bernina (despite a lot of snow elsewhere) but climbing the Fortezza Ridge in May was challenging, since a little snow can make things looks very differently already). So if everything is dry until early May and it snows for 4 days you might have to go home.
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Postby jck » Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:57 am

I agree. In spring you should expect pretty much snow.
Last year on Matterhorn conditions were ok till late march- then came a huge snowfall (me and my friend were trapped in Solvay for three days: March 20-22). And the conditions stayed quite bad till summer season. When covered with snow Hornligratt is very, very tricky.
As Thin Air said: ask the mountain guide office in Zermatt before you leave home- that's the only solution.
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think twice

Postby piz simon » Thu Feb 15, 2007 10:47 am

ok, let's put it that way. matterhorn is not the easy climb as people think. especially in spring there lure a lot of dangers. i know the chief of rescue of zermatt pretty well and he told me (he has over 30 years of experiences as a local mountaineering guide) that many people underestimate pre summer conditions. despite there is not much snow below 400 meters, well there is ice and snow on the hoernli grad. i was in zermatt 2 weeks ago and it didn't look like a picnic....but i can recommend you to do it in late summer (not too late though!) maybe end of august of even early september are also good times to do it without running into too many people.
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Postby schmid_th » Thu Feb 15, 2007 3:19 pm

In this area there is enough snow at the moment, in 1500 m there is not so much snow than the years before but in 3000 m there is really enough snow.
In March or April there could also fall a lot of new snow.
I think you have to wait.
Hörnli ridge would be difficult in snowy and ica conditions.
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