The morning began pre-dawn. Our plan was to summit Pigne d’Arolla and descend all the way to the village or Arolla. This would be our longest day, 8 hours total of hiking and climbing, and the steepest.
After crossing the top of the first glacier we climbed a scree field to access the next glacier.
The sun began to rise behind us as we climbed and by the time we were being roped into our harnesses it was a bright blue day.
Above you can see we are all roped together. I’m looking up at Paul as he climbs ahead to attached the ice screws.
Here’s Brent climbing after Paul. Paul would make it look so easy…we would struggle to keep up.
Eric and I are enjoying the view as the sun came up over the mountains.
Next Paul adjusted the spacing on the rope between. Initially we were roped very close together in case one of us were to fall. At this point we were roped far apart in case one of us were to fall into a crevasse. From this point it was a steady climb for about an hour through the snow to the summit.
Above is a photo as we summit Pigne d’Arolla. Below is a view from the summit. You can also see our tracks up to the summit.
From here on we walked downhill for five hours beginning with the descent of the peak and the glacier.
It was my first time ice climbing and the way down was much harder for me. Here we are deciding on our route.
And here’s our route.
Here Eric and I are watching Brent’s climb down a steep section of ice.
Once we climbed down the steep section of this glacier we continued down crossing cravasses. It was slow going.
We could see how far the glaciers have retreated in the last sixty years. It’s shocking to see the rapid changes these mountains have experienced and Paul showed us how the rock uncovered from the glaciers is not settled and creates grater dangers for mountaineers.
Here I am looking happy to be getting close to the end of the glacier.
And once we made it to the bottom of the glacier we began to climb down the scree fields.
And then down a moraine…
And finally we made it to the end of the trail and lunch!
Looking back up at the mountain it was hard to believe we had been up there just a few hours before. It was an incredible experience and we’re all planning the next one!