Lion ridge, Matterhorn (AD+, III+, 649m)

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Date: 29 July 2016

Climbing partner: Dia-Iulia Somogyi

Topo Lion ridge/Cresta del Leone, Matterhorn/Cervin:

1st section: Abbruzi Hut – Col du Lion

2nd section: Col du Lion – Summit. (the Carrel refuge is marked with red dot)

More route descriptions: here, here and here. You can ask about the route conditions making a phone call at “House of the Guides” in Cervinia (details here).

Gear we used: one 50 m half rope, 6 quickdraws, friends BD C4 (#0.3-#1.0), few slings, crampons and one ice axe. ( We’ve changed to crampons just before “Pic Tyndall”, but there were people that didn’t use crampons at all. Make sure you ask about the conditions before the climb!!!). Take few large locking carabiners to clip into the fixed pro.

Tips:

  • Taxi: for the lazy, there is a taxi service 4×4 from Cervinia to Abruzzi hut (800m+). More info, here. There is also a cable car, but then you have to make a long traverse to Abruzzi.
  • Water: there is some water running from the melting snow at about 3300 m altitude on the way to Carrel. I was not sure about it, so I carried water from Abruzzi hut toilet. There is some snow to melt (not so clean) around ref Carrel.
  • ref Carrel: is not guarded but you have to pay 15 eur to an Italian guide that is coming to collect money every evening in this period. 30+10 beds & blankets and a big stove with gas available (I was much happy to bring my own Jetboil and not to wait for the others. The refuge is overcrowded this time,  120 people on the night of 28 July in the refuge! Next day, I’ve seen many beds being reserved by guides for their clients (a paper with RESERVED stick to the bed). Don’t know how the system really works there, so make sure you make a phone call at the House of the Guides in Cervinia (details here) to see how you can make a reservation for ref Carrel! Or just bring your own bivy gear and sleep outside the refuge!

Our story:

On 28 July at 05:30, we start driving from Chamonix to Cervinia where we get at around 07:30. There is a big free parking place close to the House of the Guides (and “Info Point”) where we leave the car.

We decide to walk all the way up from Cervinia (2000m) to Carrel (3835m) today and climb the Lion ridge next day. This is a long approach, + 1800m!!

I feel very lucky surrounded by 3 beautiful girls: Dia-from Romania, Dalit-from Israel and Ele- from Italy. Last year I did a promise to Dia that we will climb Lion ridge together this summer. So, here we are…

climbing to Abruzzi hut

Italian coffee at Abruzzi hut

At 09:30 am we are already at Abruzzi Hut (2802m) where we enjoy the sun while drinking an italian coffee. An Austrian guide is telling us to hurry up if we want to have a bed at Carrel. At about 10:00 am we start the climb to ref Carrel.

Soon, we see a big group of climbers following us. They are moving fast, as they arrived by cable car and taxi. Ele is the fastest among us, so we agree she goes ahead to Carrel while I wait for Dia and Dalit to help them with the rope. Meanwhile, many teams overtake us.

From Abbruzi to CarrelCol du Lion

At the “Prima Corda”, we have to wait for our turn to climb it. There are 4 teams in front of us. Is not easy to do it when you have a heavy backpack and there are other teams abseiling in the same time … a total mess. 🙂

Prima corda

Seconda cordaDalit on slabs below ref CarrelWe get at ref Carrel at around 15:00. Ele is already there (she climbed all the way without the rope!). She is greeting us saying she managed to keep the last 2 beds. So, we have to squeeze 4 people in 2 beds, but we are happy with that. The refuge is overcrowded.

ref CarrelViews from ref Carrel with Testa di Leone and Dent d'Herens

During the evening there are still people arriving at the refuge, at some point there is no way you can walk without stepping on someone. People sleeping allover on the floor. The kitchen is also full. Around 120 people that night in ref Carrel!

As we discuss about what time shell we start climbing next day, I cannot help myself but thinking that there are small chances for me and Dia to summit next day if we get stuck behind people like I did today. What if I have to wait another hour tomorrow morning just to pass the “Corda della Sveglia? So, I decide to wake up at 01:00. All the others climbers are saying they will wake up at around 02:30 or 03:00. From my previous experience, I know many will not do as they say! The true was, the next day at around 12:40, half of the people were awake, trying to be the first that start the climb.

Me and Dia are leaving at 01:40. Dalit and Ele will come later, as they need more time to get ready. There are some teams climbing already, so I don’t bother too much about getting lost into the dark. At some point, a guide with a client is overtaking us. The client is asking me if we have spare batteries for his head torch. No, we don’t, but I am happy to share some light from my torch as we keep the same pace.

At some point, Dia is saying she is afraid we get to the summit too early and there is not enough light for her to take pictures. But there is still a lot of climb to be done, it’s about 05:00 when we get on top of Pic Tyndall (4241m). It is windy so we need to keep moving all the time in order not to get too cold. Soon we see a team that is descending and ask them if they climbed the summit. They said they had to turn back before the “Scala Giordano” as the wind was too strong. I have doubts we will make it, but we keep climbing. Because of the cold, Dia’s photo camera is not working. She is asking me to make pictures. After “Scala Giordano”,  I find the section called “Passage Thioly ” to be very photogenic: the wind blown snow and covered the rocks in a beautiful way.

Scala GiordanoCol FelicitePrima corda della testaPassage Thioly

08:20, summit of Matterhorn! Dia is crying of joy. It is a big achievement for Dia and I am happy her dream came true. I’ve already climbed Matterhorn 2 times before, one was back in Sept 2009 when I’ve climbed Zmutt ridge and second time was in Oct 2014 when I’ve climbed it’s N face.

Dream comes true for Dia stepping on the summit of MatterhornItalian summit of MatterhornDia on the summit of MatterhornMe on the summit- photo (c) by Dia

We slowly start the descend back to Carrel and as we abseil and see how many people are climbing up, I am happy that we decided to start early. We even have time now to make the photos we could not make on the way up.

017018Pic Tyndallref Carrel

17:00 we are back at ref Carrel. After we eat and drink, as we don’t want to spend another night in the overcrowded refuge, we decide to descend all the way down to Cervinia that day and drive back to Chamonix.

The End.