Ascent of Zinalrothorn on 1949-08-22

Climber: Frederick Johnson

Others in Party:Murray Brush
guide Josef Biner
Date:Monday, August 22, 1949
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Train
    Elevation:13848 ft / 4220 m

Ascent Trip Report

Our plan was to climb the Zinalrothorn, Obergabelhorn, and the Dent Blanche. We succeeded on the first two. Bad weather kept us off the Dent Blanche. For the approach to the Zinalrothorn Murray and I left Zermatt for the Rothorn Hut at 2:00PM, climbing up along the Triftbach, past the Gasthaus Edelweiss (1961m), and then stopping for refreshments at the historic Trifthotel (2337m). The well worn path then crosses a pasture bottom and ascends along the shallow but picturesque Triftsee (2579m). Then up the northern moraine of the Trift glacier to a short section of snow which leads to the fairly new, immaculate Rothorn Hut (3178m). It is set in front of the rock spur Eseltschugen, an outlier of the Zinalrothorn’s SE ridge. We arrived at 5:45PM, in good time for the evening meal, prepared by the hut warden for us and the other visitors. Our guide, Josef Biner, who had climbed the Matterhorn with a client this morning, arrived a bit later.
This morning we climbed the Zinalrothorn by the spectacular Rothorn (SW) Ridge, regarded as one of the finest ridge climbs in the Alps. From the hut we headed first by the normal route (PD) to the Triftjoch and the Trifthorn (3728m). Then came the very demanding four-hour commitment to the exhilarating climb of the Rothorngrat (SW) Ridge) with its excellent rock and spectacular views of numerous 4000m peaks—all in the best of weather and with perfect climbing conditions. From the Trifthorn we proceeded down and up to the Ober Rothornjoch (3830m), then started up the ridge in earnest, traversing and turning various gendarmes as we progressed upwards. At the Gabel Notch, the normal SE ridge route joins the SW ridge. Finally, after crossing the Biner Slab, turning more gendarmes, we reached the narrow, exposed ridge and fore-peak known as the Kanzel (Pulpit), which very soon brought us to the airy summit at 11:15AM. After a well earned, satisfying break on top, we returned to the Gabel Notch and followed the normal route back to the Rothorn Hut (2:30PM). A great climb-unforgettable views. Would not have been remotely possible without Josef.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:8900 ft / 2712 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3749 ft / 1141 m
    Grade/Class:D, IV and III+
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Guide
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:8900 ft / 2712 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 8572 ft / 2612 m; Extra: 328 ft / 99m
    Loss on way in:328 ft / 99 m
    Route:Rothorn Hut, Rothorngrat
    Start Trailhead:Zermatt  5276 ft / 1608 m
    Time:6 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3421 ft / 1042 m
    Route:SE Ridge
    End Trailhead:Rothorn Hut  10427 ft / 3178 m
    Time:3 Hours 

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