The NW Ridge of the Dom is better known as the Festigrat. First climbed in 1858, it is also the ridge who was taken by the first ascent party of the Dom. From the Festijoch it heads fearly straight to the summit of the Dom, thereby mainly following the snow fields along the left side of the rocky crest of the ridge. The Festigrat is by far the most interesting way to climb the Dom. Only a traverse from the Täschhorn to the Dom and further on to the Lenzspitze can give more satisfaction. Unfortunately the traverse is quite dangerous due to bad rock quality.
The climb is described well in Valais Alps East
Selected Climbs by Swindin and Fleming.
Starting from Randa (where you can leave the car in an underground parking area), follow the marks leading to the Domhütte
. The first part of the path through the forest and alpine slopes is quite steep, whereas the second part through rocky terrain even had to be equipped with steps, fixed ropes and ladders. Allow 4 to 5 hours to reach the hut.
From the Domhütte join the path (marked with cairns) higher up the moraine slopes until you reach the Festi Glacier. Enter the glacier as high as possible and follow the right bank, first rather steep, later on almost horizontal until you reach point 3723m below the Festijoch. Climb the rock wall to the Festijoch (70m, cables).
From the Festijoch the Festigrat rises in eastern direction. Climb the ridge along the easy rock crest or where is possible on the snow fields to the left of it. Towards the top of the ridge, turn the big gendarme on the left side and finally join the normal route to the summit. Descent goes through the North Flank along the normal route back to the Festijoch.
Climbing the Festigrat is an high alpine outing so be prepared for cold and sudden weather changes. I would strongly recommend to wear a helmet. Especially the climb to the Festijoch is very exposed to rock fall and dangerous if there are parties above you. When snow conditions are bad the upper part of the ridge can become icy and very tricky. In that case it can be usefull to carry a technical axe and some ice screws.