At the end of July 2004 we made our second approach to Breithorn summit. We arrived on Saturday morning, but to our disappointment the wheather in Valtournenche was awful. The whole valley was covered with thick layer of clouds starting at about 2500 meters, and there were also occasional showers. Thus, we decided to make a short trip into lower parts of Alps. We left our car at Valmartin, near Cretaz, and from there went to dam at Lago di Cignana. After a short stop, we went through pass to Valtournenche and back to Valmartin. The trip took us about five hours and wasn't specially interesting, but it was good for a warm up.
On the next day our patience was finally awarded. It was sunny with perfect visibility and the view of Matterhorn which we could see from the camping right after we woke up was quite remarkable. The cable lift at Breuil-Cervinia began service at 7.30 and it took us to Plateau Rosa (3500 m.) The plateau was whole covered in snow, the temperature was about -5 deg. Celsius and many people were skiing (picture on the right). We went to the shelter to ask about conditions on the track to Breithorn. The lady in the shelter told us that there are many crevasses and that five people died on this track a week ago, so we definitely shouldn't go there without a rope. She somewhat scared us, since we had no rope (besides, we never used one). Thus, at first we decided to go for Klein Matterhorn (3900 m.). But when we arrived at Breithorn Pass we saw about fifty people going on the track to Breithorn so we figured out that it must be safe to go there. From this point we decided to put our crampons on. People on the track were equipped in various ways, some of them had all kinds of very serious stuff like axes, mountain gears, helmets etc. which IMHO were unnecessary. On the other hand, some people had no mountaineering equipment at all, which was a little reckless. I think the necessary minimum was crampons and walking poles. Without crampons people were sliding back in the snow and risked to slip off the path into some nasty crevass which were sometimes located near the track. The poles help to reduce the weight on the legs and ease the breathing.
The track was very easy, without any technical difficulties, the mountain was simply one big snowy hill (photo on the left). Still, we were over 4000 meters above sea level and I saw many people having problems with breathing. My friend Jarek had to take a rest after each ten steps he made, despite the fact that he spend a lot of time in the mountains. Therefore our progress was very slow, and we reached the summit at noon. The view was very impressive, especially on the Monte Rosa group (below on the right). The air was very clear so we could even see the Mont Blanc, which is about 60 kilometers away. We stayed on the summit for two hours enjoying the view. The sun was shining very intensively so it was very warm on the top, we took off our jackets and stayed there only in T-shirts. There was also one funny phenomenon: on one side of the summit it was very windy and on the other, only a few meters away, there was no wind at all.
Journey back took us about two hours, so the whole trip was about eight hours long, but it is possible to make it much faster if you don't have altitude sickness. It was incredible fun to be there and I advise everyone who likes mountains to go for the Breithorn. It is really easy 4000er and its location between Matterhorn and Monte Rosa makes the views from its summit extraordinary. It is also possible to start the journey from the station at Klein Matterhorn (3900 m.) and I saw that most people were starting from there, but I think it must be too easy to go from there since this is only halfway of what we did. The only mistake we made was that we put cream with UV filter only at the beginning, we forgot to recream afterwards. I had my face under the hood but still the sun rays reflected from the snow were so intense that we got really nasty sunburns. But after all it was worth it!
Check out more photos of alps.