With all the mountain lift and trains in the Swiss Alps during peak season you’d think it was hard to escape the crowds. Surprisingly this is not the case.

Heading in towards the Arben bivi with the Obergablehorn above

An example is a trip Monika and I did in late July.  Having a couple of days off together and a good weather forecast we headed to Zermatt in the Wallis to do a climb on the Ober Gabelhorn and then possibly the Zinalrothorn. So we headed to our first objective the Arbengrat which means “evening ridge”.

Climbers on the Arbengrat, Dent d’Hérens in the distance

The climb starts from the well hidden Arbenbiwak, a small bivi hut which is reached in about 5 hours walk from Zermatt. All straight forward travel apart from a steep finish up a cliff face with ladders and bolted on hand and foot holds on a slightly overhanging section. The hut itself is very well set up with gas cookers, blankets a water source just outside.  It has great views of the Matterhorn’s north face as the sun sets.

View towards the Zinalrothorn from the summit of the Obergabelhorn

The route itself was one of the best of its style I have done. A steep exposed rock ridge is gained quickly and then followed directly to the summit. Only a few slings and stuck pieces of gear reminded us that people had been there before and the four teams on the route fell into a good spacing naturally.

Climbers descending the exposed snow ridge of the Obergabelhorn, North face of the Matterhorn on the left

Great quality rock leads to the summit. An exposed descent down at snow ridge follows and the route then climbs to the Wellenkuppe summit and this eventually leads down to the glacier near the Rothorn hut.  At the hut we checked the weather forecast which wasn’t good and decided to bail to Zermatt leaving the Rothorngrat of the Zinalrothorn for another trip. A few hours later we were heading home after a couple of days of great climbing and remoteness.


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