X-Mas 2001 - Trip Report

This is the short summary of my 2001 X-Mas Ice-climbing trip. I visited several places:

  1. Switzerland: Basler Jura (Ice-Climbing)
  2. France: Chamonix (Winter-Hiking instead of ice-climbing)
  3. Italy: Aosta-Valley, Cogne (Ice-Climbing)
  4. Switzerland: Kandersteg (Getting wet in the rain)

Below the reports, you can find the Picture Galleries, and at the very end there are 2 small Tips for safer climbing.


Switzerland: Basler Jura 

Snow Chaos and 'Ice-Bouldering' 

I left Stuttgart at 4am in the biggest snow-chaos that hit Germany in years. In the radio they interviewed people that were stuck on the Autobahn for over 12 hours. 'Luckily' my car was well equipped with summer tires, so I slid and skidded across the Autobahn towards Offenburg to pick up David Bruder.
Our plan to head straight to Kandersteg was given up in a big traffic jam near Basel in favor of a climbing area nearby: The "Basler Jura". The Ice-Falls in this area rarely form, because it is at a relatively low altitude (~900m) but this winter it was cold enough, so we found a large number of nice falls in 'Reigoldswil'. Many people had the same idea, so it was quite busy, and even Robert Jasper showed up to climb there. The falls are small (max 40m) but many of them are free-standing columns on overhanging parts of the wall which makes them interesting as a training ground.We did several climbs in the WI 4-5 range and had some scary situations, so we were quite exausted after 2 days there.
Logistics: You can park at the Wasserfallen Lift-Station and Walk up the Jaegerpfad 35-45min until you see the falls. Topos of  the falls can be found in a Rock-Climbing book called the 'Fluebibel'  not in the standard ice-climbing guides 

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2 France: 

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Relaxing and Enjoying

Not much thrilling to tell about this part: I simply had a wonderful time in the Chalet with Guenter and Sonja. Thank you very much again for that pleasant fest !






Not much snow, less ice ...

I guess we were simply a bit too early for Ice-Climbing in Cogne, one of the side-valleys of the Aosta-Valley. After my visit there in February of 2001, I had a memory of a snowy valley and lots of cascades. This time, there was nearly no snow at all, which also meant that no water melted and therefore no Ice-Falls could form, except in the few places that are fed directly by glaciers. The Valeille-valley was practically ice-free and in the Valnontey, only a few lines at the end had formed, but those were OK. You can see the conditions in the pictures in the Gallery. 


  • Cogne
    There are some smaller shops for food etc. but no ice-climbing gear can be purchased, so don't forget anything.
    The main info spot for ice-climbers is the
    Bar Licone which is near the Tourist Information Office in the center where the road splits to Valnontey: The local Guide who runs the bar keeps the new Route Book for the area and another book where all the climbers write the info on the tours they did that day.
  • Valeille
    You can park at the camping ground (closed) and then walk in (to the end it takes ~45 min)
  • Valnontey
    You can park at the end of the town Valnontey near the creek and then walk in (to the end it takes ~1.30h)

To relax our beaten fingers and to get some change and adventure we planned a tour to the higher mountains at the end of the valnontey-valley. The Gran-Paradiso made an attractive target, so we went up on the Bivacco Leonessa hoping we might get a change to reach the summit the next day. Unfortunately the combination of 

  • no snow in the valley and half way up  (so we took no skis) 
  • knee deep snow in the boulder-fields near the hut (which cost much energy) 
  • lots of barely covered crevasses on the glacier and 
  • a fierce storm at -10║C 
  • gave us the idea it might be good to look for a more reasonable target, which we found in nearby 'Herbetet' (3778m) an icy north face and some rock-climbing at the top gave us enough to do for that day and a beautiful view to Mt.Blanc, Gd. Combin all the way to the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa.

    it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-sign.jpg (93991 bytes)



    4 Switzerland: Kandersteg

    ch-kandersteg-blausee-xmas2001.jpg (98238 bytes)
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    Rain, Rain, Rain ...
    The idea to climb some of the big falls in Kandersteg was not one of out best, because the storm that we felt on Herbetet brought lots of rain to Switzerland. So we were able too take a look at the amazing falls there but felt not much temptation in climbing them in the pouring wetness.
    So we returned after making some pictures of these falls and some on the way out which probably rarely form in other years.


     Pictures: Switzerland: Basler Jura 

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    Overview Map, Basler Jura ch-basler-jura-xmas2001-3382.jpg (151725 bytes) ch-basler-jura-xmas2001-3388.jpg (114014 bytes) ch-basler-jura-xmas2001-3379.jpg (105758 bytes)
    ch-basler-jura-xmas2001-3383.jpg (115424 bytes) ch-basler-jura-xmas2001-3384.jpg (108300 bytes) ch-basler-jura-xmas2001-3387.jpg (129386 bytes) ch-basler-jura-xmas2001-3393.jpg (122849 bytes)
    ch-basler-jura-xmas2001-3391.jpg (102620 bytes) ch-basler-jura-xmas2001-3390.jpg (104884 bytes) Tunnelfall WI5 David am Tunnelfall, kurz vor dem Abgang ...


    Pictures: France: Chamonix

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    The Haas Chalet, Nov 2001 (Now it was in 5cm snow) Guenter und Sonny cliffs_above_plateau_dAssy_panorama cliffs_above_plateau_dAssy_at_sunset.jpg (88528 bytes) fr-cham-xmas2001-sunset.jpg (52798 bytes)

    Pictures: Italy: Aosta-Valley: Cogne

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    Overview Cogne: Overview Map of the Area Cogne: Overview Map of the Valleys Only for Ice-Climbers ! ;-)

    Valnontey: Overview-map photographed in Bar LiconeValnontey: Overview-map photographed in Bar Licone it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-valley-all.jpg (47191 bytes) it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-end-of-valley-with-glaciers.jpg (82716 bytes) it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-right-end-of-valley.jpg (205819 bytes)
    Valley Overview Valley looking out End of the valley End, left side
    it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-patry-all.jpg (97135 bytes) it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-patry-left-pano-small.jpg (162184 bytes) it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-patry-left-climbing.jpg (62376 bytes) it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-patry-right-pano-small.jpg (141745 bytes)
    Mur de Patry Left Left detail Right
    it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-repetance-all2.jpg (123106 bytes) it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-repetance-super.jpg (123717 bytes) it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-repetance-mondeymoney.jpg (130088 bytes) it-cogne-valnontey-xmas2001-3454.jpg (121643 bytes)
    Mur de_ Repetance Repetance Super Monday Money Flash Estivo

    Valleile (much too dry - nearly nothing climbable)
    Valeille: Overview-map photographed in Bar LiconeValeille: Overview-map photographed in Bar Licone it-cogne-valeille-xmas2001-valley-bottom.jpg (93170 bytes) it-cogne-valeille-xmas2001-left-begin-of-valley.jpg (121196 bytes) it-cogne-valeille-xmas2001-left-detail.jpg (118867 bytes)
    it-cogne-valeille-xmas2001-right-begin-of-valley.jpg (89364 bytes) it-cogne-valeille-xmas2001-right-begin-of-valley2.jpg (82333 bytes) it-cogne-valeille-xmas2001-right-detail.jpg (139381 bytes) it-cogne-valeille-xmas2001-right-end-of-valley.jpg (135234 bytes)

    it-cogne-herbetet-xmas2001-alm.jpg (107059 bytes) it-cogne-herbetet-xmas2001-goat.jpg (81727 bytes) it-cogne-herbetet-xmas2001-biv-leonessa.jpg (66346 bytes) it-cogne-herbetet-xmas2001-summit.jpg (67973 bytes)
    it-cogne-herbetet-xmas2001-face.jpg (42953 bytes) it-cogne-herbetet-xmas2001-valnontey.jpg (110419 bytes) it-cogne-herbetet-xmas2001-matterhorn.jpg (66638 bytes) it-cogne-herbetet-xmas2001-gran-paradiso.jpg (52499 bytes)
    pano_herbetet_pano_unfixed.jpg (110164 bytes)

    Panorama from Herbetet, the Gran Paradiso is just left of the big Rockpile

    Pictures: Switzerland: Kandersteg

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    Overview Map: Spiez, Blausee, Kandersteg Kandersteg: Sector Oeschinenwald Xmas2001 Panorama ch-kandersteg-oeschinenwald-xmas2001-main.jpg (106090 bytes)
    Kandersteg Oeschinenwald Panorama Details
    ch-kandersteg-almenalpfall-xmas2001-3503.jpg (100605 bytes) áBig falls on the way to Kandersteg ch-kandersteg-before-blausee-xmas2001.jpg (101647 bytes)
     Big falls on the way to Kandersteg (The town is called Blausee. 
    I guess they rarely form that nice!)