On March, 10th 2021 my project 21 in 21 kicked off. My plan is, to climb all 21 of the 4000m peaks in Switzerland that I have not climbed yet. The first peak should be the Hintere Fiescherhorn with a height of 4025m. As I didn't want to be under time pressure in the course of the year, we caught the last beautiful day after a long high-pressure period in the Alps. Before that, the weather has been slightly worse for two days with little snowfall.
Thanks to poor research (there would have been an earlier train arriving at 9:00 a.m.), after arriving from Lucerne, we start our tour at 10:30 a.m. from Jungfraujoch at 3450m. We move along the slope up to Mönchsjoch, where a strong wind whizzes around our ears. We take off our ski skins in “light speed” and soon we are cruising down the powdery, steeper slopes of the “Ewigschneefeld”. Where you glide gently in spring, we struggle today, and only with a big effort of our ski poles, we make it to the starting point at about 3300m.
At least we can locate a track and only have to overcome the wind-blown passage for the first 150m before we reach the more or less good track up to the starting point of the climbing ascent. In the meantime, our hard-working forerunners already made it to the ascent, but instead of heading towards Fieschersattel, they take a couloir further north which leads directly to the ridge of the Great Fiescherhorn.
Thanks to the lack of acclimatization, we struggle a little, but soon we reach the transition area at 3840m. On foot, with our skis on our backs, we climb the 50 ° steep couloir and finally reach the ridge at 3960m.
The previous 4-person rope team is meanwhile just below the summit of Grosse Fiescherhorn and, due to the already tracked ascent, we spontaneously decide also to climb the Grosse Fiescherhorn as a bonus summit.
Without backpacks, we reach the summit after 15 minutes and meet familiar faces. We congratulate each other and after 5 minutes we start the descent. Climbing is much easier without a backpack and soon we are standing next to our luggage again. Believing that a 30m rope is easily enough for abseiling, I cockily take off my crampons and start rappelling. After about 7 meters I have to realize that the rope doesn’t reach the ground. As it is too delicate for me, to overcome the last 3 meters without crampons I decide to block my Munter hitch, carefully deposit the backpack and put my crampons back on. In the meantime, the wind has increased and I am happy to have chosen the Scarpa F1 LT for this tour, which protects my toes from the deep-freezing temperatures.
Finally, with the skis back on, I start heading towards the Hinteres Fiescherhorn. Wind-driften snow on a frozen base makes tracing a tedious endeavor and so we decide to deposit the skis at 3960m. In stormy conditions and with our crampons we climb uphill. After overcoming a bergschrund with a brave jump, we’re finally reaching the ridge and after some easier climbing, we make it to the highest point of 4025m. The wind knows no mercy and as the time is arealdy getting late (3:00 p.m. on the summit), we again don’t stay for long.
We hurry back down to our skis, amazed that they have not yet been blown away by the wind, and descend the first 100 meters on the Walliser Fiescherfirn. The wind is still blowing with 30-50 km/h and as the partially huge crevasses are only vaguely visible, we decide to rope up. Navigating by using GPX Track, we are making our way through the labyrinth of crevasses. After about 150hm the wind decreases, but the crevasses become even bigger. In a zigzag we overcome one obstacle after the other.
At 3600m the tension dissolves slowly. We stow the rope in the backpack and let the skis glide down through the powder snow to the shallow glacier.
Once again, we have to use the ski poles until the Finsteraarhornhütte finally comes into view. From here we can ski again and set course for Fiesch along the right edge of the glacier. Thanks to traces, we find the route easily and after a few steep couloirs, we soon reach the end of the glacier.
We reach the train station of Fiesch at around 8:30 in the evening, the subsequent return journey to Lucerne should take us 4.5 hours...
And the moral of the story, early season isn't for the faint of heart...