Trugberg NE Face


Published by Lone Ranger , 26 September 2011, 21h11.

Region: World » Switzerland » Bern » Jungfraugebiet
Date of the hike:22 September 2011
Mountaineering grading: D
Climbing grading: II (UIAA Grading System)
Ice climbing grading: WI3
Waypoints:
Geo-Tags: CH-VS 
Time: 10:00
Height gain: 300 m 984 ft.
Height loss: 300 m 984 ft.
Access to start point:Monchjoch hutte
Accommodation:Monchjoch hutte

Video preview

Background:

Ron and I had originally planned to do NE Face of Monch, rated D, but when we reached the hut and saw this NE face of Trugberg so temptingly close (15mins approach hike compared to 2 hours for Monch NE Face), we changed our mind. The fact that neither of us had read any reports/guides about this route did not bother us. Actually it is a much longer climb, this I realized only in hindsight, so I have drawn the two routes on a map, hope future climbers find it useful.

Approach:
Actually you can start climbing the face at any point after getting down the hut to the Ober Monchsjoch saddle. However, the true "North face" is much shorter, maybe 100m in length. Ron was keen to take the longest possible route, for this keep walking down and enter Emigschneefald glacier, turn right toward the NE face at around 3450m. The bergschrund is at about 3500m and the ice-climb begins there.

The climb
The hardest obstacle on this route is the bergschrund, you might have to try a few different points before getting a section you can actually cross. Ron was lucky (or bold), after turning back just once, he found a vertical section that was doable. The rest is straightforward: a uniform slope of about 50-55%.

We followed our usual procedure: Ron would lead until the 60m rope runs out, place solid ice-screws anchor, I would then follow on belay. This way we made about 7 or 8 pitches. Like most alpine faces, this one looked so easy and short from below, but even after we had done some 4-5 pitches, the end seemed so far away, we couldn't even see it. Actually if you can see the end on a North Face, it usually means the rest is going to be steeper than your current pitch. If you can't see the end, then it means slope is easing, the rest is going to be easier.

One or two pitches were stressful: very thin ice such that placing ice-screw protection on the way was impossible, and moreover Ron's axe (as he later told me) would penetrate the ice and hit the rock underneath it. I was a bit lucky (or as second, maybe I had more time to choose the best sections of the route, because I don't recall hitting rock at any point). Luckily all our belays were bombproof.

No incidents on the way, except that I dropped a glove after pitch 2 while taking pictures. No worry, except that it was a brand new expensive glove. I am prone to dropping my gloves and have cold hands, so I carry two pairs (rarely 3 pairs) of spare gloves, so it did not result in anything bad. We also retrieved this glove the next morning.

The first 4- 5pitches or so, you are hidden from the Monch hut, you can't see them, they can't see you. But after that you are in line of sight, you can see people relaxing at the hut, and probably the visitors there enjoyed watching us while sipping their beers. From that point, every move you make is in full, constant public view, so if there is any activity you need to perform discreetly, do it before this point :-)

We were on the summit ridge around 2 pm. After some rest and pictures we began the descent. Since we had not read any guidebook, we took some time to figure out the correct descent route. Descent is mostly grade I-II moves on loose rock/mixed ground, then a steep III or IV section of about 10-15 m that we rappelled down (there is a good rappel anchor). Walked back to hut around 4 pm. (Approx 10 hours hut to hut; can be less in good snow conditions)

The key thing about this climb is conditions on the mountain. Snow/ice quality varies greatly over the year, this is not a very popular route, so it is difficult to get current info, the hut guardian is not particularly helpful...so you need to make a calculated guess.  End of September is obviously going to see the barest ice conditions, however since it had snowed the week before and we had 2-3 strong sunny days after snow, we had hoped the face would be in better condition. With fresh snow we felt this face is quite likely to have avalanches, and too little cover means hitting the rock below, so you have to find the right balance.

Overall a great climb with no significant incidents, felt safe and comfortable under Ron's lead. I might have wanted to lead a few pitches, but that will have to wait.

Hike partners: Lone Ranger

Gallery


Slideshow Open in a new window · Open in this window

PD WT5
4 Jul 13
Trugberg Wintergipfel 3880m · chaeppi
PD II
AD
AD- II
5 Sep 13
Jungfrau 4158m · Bergstiger
AD- II
6 Sep 12
Traumverhältnisse am Mönch · Bergstiger

Post a comment»