Ascent of Dom on 1966-07-25

Climber: Frederick Johnson

Others in Party:Guide Francizkus Brantschen
Date:Monday, July 25, 1966
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Train
    Elevation:14918 ft / 4547 m

Ascent Trip Report

My attempt to climb the Dom last week was foiled by the weather. On July 17 I met guide Leo Brantschen at Randa at 2:00PM to climb the steep 5,000-foot path up to the Dom Hut. Light rain persisted for the first hour and half as we carefully hiked the steepest part, wet and slippery, where cables have been placed. We arrived at the hut at 5:40PM, followed soon by a beer, then some grog with the hearty hut dinner of ham/fried eggs, and the homemade goat cheese of Leo’s father, the hut warden. July 18 was a day of complete indoor inactivity as light snow fell intermittently and the outside visibility was zero. Besides Leo and his father, there were two non-English speaking but amiable Italian climbers for company. The weather was no better on July 19; so I left the hut at 10:00AM to return to Randa, with the snowfall following me much of the way down.

Fortunately my stay in Zermatt was long enough for a second try on the Dom, which was successful. On July 24 I met guide Francizkus Brantschen at Randa, and after a beer at his uncle’s Hotel de la Gare, headed once again up the scenic path to the Dom Hut. We arrived to find some 20 people, most of them there to climb the Dom. Today (July 25) Francizkus and I left the hut at 2:50AM, heading up the well-worn moraine trail to the Festigletscher, where we roped up. Then up the glacier some distance before proceeding over loose appearing but remarkably firm rubble to the Festijoch (3723m), which we reached at 6:00AM. After a short rest we put on the crampons to begin the climb over good rock, snow, and the several ice pitches on the steep ascent route of the Festigrat (NW ridge). The weather now was unsettled with intermittent gusty wind, sunshine, and misty cloud. Slowly we climbed steadily to the cross-topped summit of the Dom (10:15AM), the highest peak entirely within Switzerland. A strong, cold wind was blowing with brilliant sunshine at higher elevations. However, all that could be seen in the grand panorama were the top of the Täschhorn and parts of the Nadelhorn ridge—all else as far as the eye could see was a sea of clouds. After about 15 minutes on top shooting some 16-mm film and “enjoying” the experience, we started down the snowy slopes of the NW face, the usual route up the Dom. Despite the seeming advantage of following a previous track, it was slow, tiring going as we broke through the soft snow, sometimes up to our knees. Though it was warm as we trekked along the Hoberggletscher, we were in cloud most of the time with 20-30-foot visibility. Things improved after removing the crampons at the Festijoch (2:00 PM). We returned to the Dom hut at 3:15 PM. I spent the night at the hut, planning to climb the Hoberghorn (4219m) tomorrow. However, I lost interest after the workout on the Dom. I left the hut at 10:30AM and under a blue, sunny, cloudless sky descended to Randa to connect with the train to Zermatt.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:10299 ft / 3139 m
    Route:Festigrat (NW Ridge)
    Trailhead:Randa  4619 ft / 1407 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Hut Camp
    Weather:Cool, Extremely Windy, Clear
Cold,windy high up; warmer, calm lower down
Ascent Statistics
    Time:7 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 45 Minutes

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