Our first goal was to achieve the Breithorn summit, 4165 meters above sea level. It is one of the easiest 4000ers in Alps, you can reach it starting from a lift station at Plateau Rosa (3400 m) so it is possible to reach the summit within one day. As a warm-up, we decided to go for the Mt.Roisetta summit (3334 m.) on Saturday. It was described on Internet as "very difficult walk" that should take about 4 hours. Maybe it is true in August, when conditions in Alps are optimal, but in the beginning of June it turned out to be quite hard task.
Both Roisetta and Breithorn are located near Valtournenche Valley. This is one of the most beautiful places in Wallis Alpes, from which you can see also the famous Matterhorn mountain (see photos). We arrived at Cheneil (2100 m.) at about 10 a.m. We knew that it was too late, but as I said, we finished our work on Friday evening, so it was hard to come earlier, since Valtournenche Valley is about 200 kilometers from Milan, part of it on mountain roads. The weather was good, temperature in Milan was about 30 degrees Celsius, in Cheneil about 20, and on the summit probably around 5 degrees. Beside obvious equipment like warm trousers and jackets, sunglasses, backpacks, map etc. each of us took a pair of crampons and a pair of poles. At the beginning the walk was rather easy, the only obstacle was the river with very cold water from melting snow. Since it was warm, the snow was melting rapidly so the water was high up to our knees and running very fast. Therefore we had to be carefull while crossing it (picture on the right).
The problems began about halfway to the summit.
At about 2700 meters above sea level the snow was so deep, that we had to put on our crampons.
It was already noon and the snow was very wet and soft.
We were falling up to our knees into it and it was slowing us down very much (picture on the left).
After next four hours we climbed only to the pass about 100 meters below the summit.
From there we had a nice view to Breithorn, but I guess it wasn't even half as impressive as the view from the top, from which we should see the whole mountain ridge, including Matterhorn.
We had enough energy to climb further, but we were afraid that we won't be able to come back before sunset, thus we decided to go back.
It was a little disappointing, but after all, our main target supposed to be Breithorn, on the next day.
We wanted to start our trip for this summit from top lift station at Plateau Rosa. It starts at 7.30 a.m. so on the Sunday morning, we arrived at Breuil-Cervinia where lowest station of the lift is located. To our great dissapointment, the lift was closed, despite the fact that on the official Internet page we checked that it is supposed to be working! Well, after a few next weeks in Italy we learned that you can't believe in what you read in this country :-( But we didn't give up, and we reached Breithorn a few weeks later.
- All alpine guidebooks say that the best time to start the trip is just after the sunrise or even before if you have headlight and good orientation. Trust them! Otherwise, you may stuck in soft snow and not make it on time. Also, the best month is August, in June difficulty is increased, even though it is already summer.
- Don't believe in written information in Italy. Always call the nearby shelter or tourist guide and ask. Remember though, that not many Italians speak English very well.
- My boots and trousers were water-proof, but much snow fell into my boots from the top, when I was marching through the snow. At the end of the day they were soaking wet, so it is a good idea to have a snow protection on legs.