Ascent of Monte Rosa on 1949-08-18

Climber: Frederick Johnson

Others in Party:Murray Brush
Guide Yvo Perren
Date:Thursday, August 18, 1949
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Train
Peak:Monte Rosa
    Elevation:4633 m / 15203 ft

Ascent Trip Report

August 18. This afternoon Murray and I rode the Gornergratbahn to the Rotenboden station, where we followed the track south past the Riffelsee, descending about 250m to the Gorner glacier before moving on to the rocks and following a good, zig-zag path to the popular, spacious Monte Rosa Hut. Our guide, Yvo Perren, joined us later in the evening.

August 18. The three of us left the Monte Rosa Hut at 4:15AM , following cairns over the rock to the Unteren Plattje and Obere Plattje (3200m) before connecting with the Monte Rosa glacier up to P. 3827. Then steeply up past the “Scholle” to the “Satteltole” and the final steep section to the Sattel at P. 4359 on the West Ridge of the Dufourspitze. From here we moved very carefully
over the steep, narrow ridge–a combination of icy knife-edge, snow, and rock. Not difficult climbing, but quite exposed in places. We summitted the Dufourspitze at 10:15AM in weather that had started out fair enough but which had turned cold and windy. We marveled at the fantastic panorama of alpine giants and took a short break before resuming our traverse of Monte Rosa, first via the Grenzgipfl to the Zumsteinspitze, which crowns the mighty East Face of Monte Rosa and stands at the source of the wild Grenz glacier, and then to Colle Gnifetti and up to the Signalkuppe (Punta Gnifetti) and the refuge of the precariously perched Margherita Hut, which was a most welcomed port in a storm that was increasing rapidly in intensity. Arriving here around noon, we made the most of the simple but highly efficient shelter. The hut guardian tended the stove, which provided good heat, helped prepare simple, hot food and maintain a modicum of order in these rather cramped quarters. There was nothing to do but remain in our bunks most of the time, as the storm raged outside, from mid-afternoon until the next morning.

August 19.Our initial plan was to traverse Monte Rosa yesterday, spend the night at the Margherita Hut, and today proceed to the Lisjoch (4141m) and climb the Liskamm, Castor, Pollux, and the Breithorn. No such luck, as the winds continued to howl. Instead, we left the Margherita Hut at 9:00AM. We headed down to the Monte Rosa Hut via the heavily crevassed Grenz glacier. Amazingly, once we were a few hundred meters below the main ridge, the wind subsided, the skies cleared, and it became a sunny but cold day. We caught the 2:10PM Gornergratbahn at Rotenboden and were soon back in Zermatt.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2416 m / 7935 ft
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Guide, Hut Camp
    Weather:Cold, Extremely Windy, White-out
Variable--from good to stormy
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:2117 m / 6951 ft
    Extra Loss:299 m / 984 ft
    Route:East Ridge
    Trailhead:Rotenboden Station/Gornergrat  2815 m / 9236 ft
Descent Statistics
    Extra Gain:299 m / 984 ft
    Route:Grenz Glacier from Margherita Hut
    Trailhead:Rotenboden Station/Gornergrat  

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