/ Care needed on the Matterhorn

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McHeath 25 Jul 2019

On Wednesday there was a fatal accident on the Hörnli ridge; 2 climbers fell from 4300m. They were at the fixed ropes, and a large block detached itself. The opinion of geologists is that this was a result of the melting permafrost (current freezing level >5000m). The fixed ropes themselves are controlled regularly.

The geologist in this interview (in German): https://www.srf.ch/sendungen/rendez-vous/unfall-am-matterhorn-zusammenhang-mit-permafrost states that the permafrost situation is making summer mountaineering very dangerous in the whole Western Alps. Not only the summit areas are affected; the retreat of the glaciers has also made 20% of all Swiss hut approaches more dangerous; for the Monte Rosa hut for instance a whole new route has had to be constructed.

Be careful out there folks.

olddirtydoggy 25 Jul 2019
In reply to McHeath:

I wonder if the whole rising temps is maybe a reason for all the deaths we're seeing. There does seem to be a lot of avalanche fatalities and sections of mountains crumbling down the hillsides. Like the mountains are not risky enough. Thanks for the link.

1
Ben_Climber 25 Jul 2019
In reply to McHeath:

I got back from Chamonix last week, it seemed like the Mont Blanc Massif was falling down the whole time I was away!

I've never seen the Midi ridge and Valle Blanche that barren so early in the season.

Cheese Monkey 25 Jul 2019
In reply to McHeath:

I think the shoulder seasons are going to see much greater activity over the coming years.

McHeath 25 Jul 2019
In reply to Cheese Monkey:

Could well be. We had a great spell here about a month ago, when it got colder after the first heatwave. It'll mean that more flexibility is needed, ie not: I'm going to do the Matterhorn (or whatever) in these four days, but rather: I'm going to spend three weeks in the Alps, move around according to the conditions, and go sport climbing or do long hikes if there's any doubt about the conditions higher up.

Scary, that testing holds isn't much help any more when the whole part of the face you're climbing could just slide away beneath you without warning.

A good site for very up to date descriptions of conditions on specific Swiss mountains is this one:

https://www.gipfelbuch.ch/gipfelbuch/verhaeltnisse

You just enter the mountain you're interested in, and get recent accounts of ascents by various routes. It's in German, but Google translate should provide clear enough translations. Free, but you have to register.

Post edited at 16:10
McHeath 25 Jul 2019
In reply to McHeath:

Update: apparently the rock which became detached held the anchor for one of the fixed ropes, so it sounds as though there'll be a gap in them until a new one is in place.

Planeandsimple 26 Jul 2019
In reply to McHeath:

Interesting. Considering how many people pull on the ropes that movement wasnt noticed. 


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