Planning the Schali tour
Since the route from the Weisshorn hut to Schali bivouac is prone to stone and ice avalanches, we preferred the western route and spent the first night at the Arpitetta hut at 2786 m. Driving over 200 km to reach Zinal (1675 m), we believed that this ascent is enough and we did not want to spend all our energy on the first day. We even decided to drive 3 km beyond the village and park at ca. 1750 m. On the second day we climbed the Schalijoch and had our second night at the nice bivouac. We planned to reach the summit on the third day, walk down the north ridge to the Grande Gendarme and take the west rip (Young route) that would lead us back to the car in Zinal. The Young route with its many hooks and fixed ropes is ideal for descent.
Unfortunately the Schaligrat was full of snow (July) and it was 4 pm when we finally reached the summit. Dark clouds hung around and we could see lightnings nearing from the west. Climbing down the Young ridge became impossible. So we decided to take the normal east ridge and tried to hurry to the Weisshorn hut. But here too, the snow slowed us down and at 3800 m the thunder storm forced us to stop, so we decided for a bivouac. The next morning we walked down to Randa, took trains and buses to get back to Zinal. Unfortunately, the same thunderstorm had produced a landslide that ruined the road. After 2 more days the road was open again.
This example shows that on long routes at 4000 m we must be prepared for a bivouac and we must be flexible enough to change the route immediately. Driving the car to the very end of the road was certainly not a wise decision.
From the Schali bivouac stay on the ridge. Any gendarmes are gone around on its right, western side. At about 4300 m, the ridge ends in a color that leads down to the Weisshorn glacier on the western, Arpitetta side. Cross the couloir and reach the newly formed ridge. Climb the reddish tower on its south-east flank. Do not leave the ridge and climb the following five
gendarmes. 5 hours under normal conditions, i.e. in absence of snow. Excellent granite rock.
Rope, axe, ice-screw, crampons, bivouac facilities, mobile phone, altimeter
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