Allalinhorn East Ridge (Hohlaubgrat)

Allalinhorn (4,027 m) is one of the easier 4,000-metre peaks in the Alps, as a system of cable cars and a funicular bring you to an altitude of 3,456 m. Still, the normal route is threatened by big seracs looming overhead during part of the climb and the descent.


Since my two clients were quite experienced and very fit, I decided to take them up the East Ridge. Britannia Hut, the starting point for the climb, which is located just above the Hohlaub glacier, is reached by cable car from Saas Fee. With our head torches on, we stepped onto the glacier in early morning hours. The colour and structure of the snow suggested that some of the crevasses might be covered with fresh snow. Being the end of July, the temperatures were quite high and one of my clients broke through a snow bridge on the flat part of the glacier, stopping waist deep down a crevasse. Our rope was quite tight so I had no trouble stopping his fall. The event did remind us, though, that tours in the high Alps can never be completely straightforward. Higher up the light got slightly better and we could enjoy marvellous views of the surrounding peaks. The second part of the climb followed the ridge which brought us to a rocky vertical section. The climbing slowed down significantly. Less experienced climbers in front of us had some problems climbing mixed terrain with crampons, so we had to wait more than an hour until we could start up the steep rock. The climbing here was great, with plenty of good footholds for our crampons. All of a sudden we found ourselves just below the summit of Allalinhorn, greeted by cold wind and Monte Rosa, Matterhorn, and Breithorn in the distance. We took a few pictures and started descending down the normal route towards Mittelallalin.


As we reached the funicular top station, we went to the revolving restaurant to celebrate our climb. Once at our table, I put one of my gloves down on the window sill. We finished our drink and got ready to leave when I suddenly noticed that the glove was gone. We started looking for it and found it, with some surprise, at the other side of the restaurant. The glove hadn’t moved from its window sill, but our table, together with the whole restaurant, had turned 180 degrees. We all had a good laugh, as none of us had even noticed that the whole room had been slowly spinning.

Danilo Tič