Ascent to Weisshorn-14300--East Ridge on 1952-09-02

Climber: Frederick Johnson

Others in Party:Ted Waddell
guides Josef Biner and Otto Taugwalder
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, September 2, 1952
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Train
Point Reached:Weisshorn - 14300--East Ridge
    Elevation:14300 ft / 4358 m
    Remaining Elevation:483 ft / 147 m (5% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

By chance today I ran into my Cornell classmate, Ted Waddell, who is motorcycling in Europe for a month. Over a beer at the Walliserkanne, we talked about peak climbing possibilities and decided on the Weisshorn as a good choice for us. Yesterday, with guides Josef Biner and Otto Taugwalder, we took the noon train from Zermatt to Randa (1408m), to start the steep, four-hour+ climb to the Weisshorn Hut (2932m). The four of us were the only ones there—the hut warden was away–so we fixed our dinner and turned in soon after 7:00PM.

Left the hut at 3:40AM under clear skies. First a 20-minute walk to the Schali Glacier, then a couple hours ascending the steep rocky slope which parallels a steeper snow couloir leading to the East Ridge. A stop at the Frühstückplatz (3916m), then up the airy ridge with numerous steps and gendarmes. The Lochmatter Tower, just above the Frühstückplatz, is passed by a traverse on the south with assistance from iron posts. It was an exhilarating climb up the East Ridge, covered with fresh snow. Finally, after about an hour, the rocky towers gave way to a knife-edged snow arête, which was followed by the snow slope of the East Ridge leading to the top. Having left the rock ridge behind, we were making our way up the tiring new snow when I started to run out of gas. Despite a couple of rest stops to boost my energy, I became sick and sufficiently tired that I realized that this was not to be the day I climbed the magnificent pyramid of the Weisshorn. So, at less than 200 meters below the summit, Josef and I returned slowly back down to the hut (1:30PM), while Ted and Otto persevered and claimed the summit. They were back at the Weisshorn Hut at 2:45PM. We headed down to Randa at 3:30PM and were in plenty of time to catch the 6:00PM train to Zermatt. I recovered strength quickly after starting down from my high point on the East Ridge and resting at the hut—my problem had no doubt been altitude related.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:9024 ft / 2750 m
    Total Elevation Loss:9026 ft / 2751 m
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Guide, Hut Camp
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Very good
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:9024 ft / 2750 m
    Route:East Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Randa train station  5276 ft / 1608 m
    Time:4 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:9026 ft / 2751 m
    Route:East Ridge
    End Trailhead:Randa train station  5274 ft / 1607 m
    Time:3 Hours 

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