European Alps (Breithorn)

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JHBGerry

 
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European Alps (Breithorn)

by JHBGerry » Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:28 am

I am planning a trip to Europe in June 2015, with the aim of climbing the Breithorn, Gran Paradiso, and Mont Blanc.

We will be a group of about 8, and most of us have climbed Kilimanjaro and Elbrus. I know that the climbing is completely different, and requires different techniques.

I would like to know whether it is compulsory to have a guide on the Breithorn and Gran Paradiso? We will have a guide on Mont Blanc, primarily to get into the Gouter Hut, and as it is probably just a good idea!

I understand that the safest route should be fairly visible and easy to follow on the Breithorn and the Gran Paradiso. We intend to go in the third week of June 2015, and as it will still be fairly early in the climbing season, I was wondering whether a "path" will already be visible?

We intend to climb the Breithorn from the Cervinia side, so will take the cable car up to the Rifugio Gude del Cervino at 3480 meters, and will walk in from there. Is that a possibility?

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rgg
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Re: European Alps (Breithorn)

by rgg » Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:34 am

Guides are optional, and if you know how to handle yourself on a rope on a glacier, you certainly don't need a guide for Breithorn, and with a little experience not on Gran Paradiso either.

From the Klein Matterhorn cable car it's a short glacier route to Breithorn, and as long as you follow the highway of footprints, crevasse danger is pretty low (though not completely nonexistent). I don't know when the cable car starts operating, but if it is, there will be a trail, and if it isn't, well, to climb Breithorn without using it is a completely different proposition: a bit more difficult and a whole lot longer. I never climbed it from the Cervinia side, so I don't have first hand knowledge of the part of the route from the Theodulpass to the Breithornplateau (that's the flat area south of around Klein Matterhorn). However, my map shows ski lifts along that route, which implies that it just takes more time than from the Klein Matterhorn cable car but it shouldn't be hard at all.

The normal route up Gran Paradiso up to the Madonna, which is the slightly lower foresummit where most people go no further, is mostly a glacier route, with a short and easy but very exposed rock scramble near the top. There are some crevasses on the glacier, so knowing how to do a crevasse rescue does matter, just in case. Provided that the nearby huts are open, I would count on a trail, because Gran Paradiso is the main attraction in the area. That said, when I went there (in September 2012), the route from Rifugio Vittorio Emmanuel II to the edge of the glacier was not marked and not all that clear either, and a lot of groups went different ways, and I'm sure that some of those went the wrong way. Fortunately, I had explored the start of the route the day before, so we did fine.

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JHBGerry

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Re: European Alps (Breithorn)

by JHBGerry » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:19 pm

Thanks rgg.

The route from the Rifugio to the Kleine Matterhorn will probably be alongside the ski pistes. I have skied those slopes before, and do not foresee any problems there. I think that section is open for skiing, even in Summer.

I have also climbed the Gran Paradiso, so have an idea of the route from the Chabod Hut to the glacier, but was just a bit concerned that the planned time of June would be too early for a marked path. I guess one could just follow a guided group to see the route?

It is simply a case of not wanting to be reckless, so will have to think carefully.


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