Approach to Dom des Mischabel (4545m) was far from easy.
Group of 35 people from alpine association Kranj applied to the trip not knowing if the weather forecast is going to hold. Even tho the past experiences bear witness that the weather at this time of the season is often in favor of climbers and mountaineers. Ofcourse i was the one who also applied with a secret wish of skiing down the Dom but…
Fore ‘mind’ play.
Thursday after work bus journey to Randa (Switzerland) and a noon approach to the Domhutte (2940m). The backpack full of clothes, gear, food and water was heavy enough to convince me that skis will stay in the bus. Snow conditions, altitude, forecast and solitude in this story also helped me to get over it and focus on walking and climbing only.
Friday was clear and after 3hours 40minutes Miha, Aleš, Guido and I reached the hut, followed by the rest in the next hour or so. Crew relaxed and spread over the terrace mingling and drinking expensive beer and tea, while some of us took a short hike to the start of the glacier to check the conditions and approach to the Dom and the right spot for glacier course that has been planned for sunday.
At 2am on Saturday group of motivated mountaineers woke up in rainy, foggy and windy morning. Approach to the Dom has been cancelled and postponed to sunday. Back to sleep for another 6 hours, second breakfast and hike to the glacier for some learning and repetition of maneuvers that could save somebody’s life. Rain and snow left a grim on my face, since i expected the weather to cooperate. I had to turn back below the summit of Mont Blanc couple of weeks ago and i really wished that with this posse i could at least trample on this one to the top.
Sunday morning. Weather check. Clear with some morning mist. Decision has been made by head of the trip and great climber Miha Marenče. Time for ascent is 2.30am. Goosebumps, morning stomach upset, some insecurity and off we go twinkling with the full on harness set up.
Nice and easy.
That was the tempo until we picked up the ropes and some of the gear that we left on the glacier the previous day. But after that it started. Wading through unprocessed snow. Wondering if that is even worth it every time someone punctured through the 4cm crust knee or waist deep. Guido took the most of the work to the start of ascent to Festigrat. Some of us also took the morning “exercise” but also tried to save some energy for the ridge work and final push.
Mountain guide and housekeeper of the hut shared his vision of our approach at this time of the season. Hut has opened it’s doors just for us and since 10.6. nobody has been on the mountain except for 2 italian skiers that tried the normal route. With his experiences and good old swiss underestimation of ‘Yugos’, he cautiously shared his estimation of 0% chances in favor of our success. That boosted up our egos and will for reaching the summit. He eagerly checked us out through binoculars while we were climbing towards the summit.
Fixing the ropes.
Aleš, Miha and Matic climbed the Festigrat step and fixed the ropes hoping that we could abseil on a descent. Soon as they’ve seen the conditions and the time needed for the climb some of them shouted that we need to find a better way up.
Tone and Roman
Couple of seconds and Tone decided to push in to the west wall of Dom with some good snow layer followed by Roman. They both sacrificed a lot of energy to make good steps for the rest of the group who diligently followed with stabbing the ice and snow with axe and crampons.
The altitude of about 4000m on the ridge soon started to play with people’s heads, lungs, muscles,… Climbing up at this altitude is a hard work even tho backpack is lighter than the previous day. I brought some more rope to the ridge so i stayed in the back of the group with Miha (Marenče). Soon we caught up to the second group of people that didn’t feel well. Aleš and Miha (Zupin) decided to bring that group down safely and help them to reach the hut without problems. I felt really good and strong to continue so i paced up and caught some more people and we slowly reached the summit.
First group started with the descent so they could spend more time on abseil and final stage before the glacial plateau. Marko and I waited at the top for Janez and Miha who reached the summit as the last one with a big, yet tired smile on his poker face. Warm sun escorted us back to abseil where we picked up last ropes and the last part of the west face where i focused only on my footwork.
1605m up and 3139 down
Soon as we reached the glacier the summit got hit by a mass of clouds rolling over it quickly. So lucky, yet quite tired i finally reached the hut with Marko, drank some tea, changed into summer clothes, packed up and joined Miha and Aleš on the fast descent towards Randa (1406m) where a nice cold can of beer and some snacks awaited us and calmed us down on the parking lot where we collectively talked and laughed until we passed out on a bus drive back home to Slovenia which by the way celebrates 25years of independence.
Thanks to Renato who, after successful approach shared strong grappa with stoke in his eyes and who made it clear that we are one stubborn, strong and dedicated nation who still believes in tradition, values and solidarity. Our land is our keeper who gives us power to charge and never give up. Remember that!