Ascent of Rheinwaldhorn on 2009-08-30

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Lee Newton
Date:Sunday, August 30, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:11161 ft / 3401 m

Ascent Trip Report

Hut climb: 7.3km, 700mH, Summit climb 3.8km, 510mH (GPSr track)

We climbed this peak immediately after Scopi, hiking to the Adula hut on the Saturday afternoon.

The trailhead is at N46:32.928', E008:57.952 (1683m), although it took us a while to find it. A small tarmac road zigzags up east from the N end of Aquilesco village. Soon this reaches the impressively tall Lago di Luzzoni dam. Just before reaching the top of the dam there is a R turn with a parking area overlooking the damn and valley (if you reach a 3-way split with a choice of 3 tunnels, you have passed the turning). At the far end of the parking area is a tunnel with traffic lights. Drive thru this tunnel which passes along the dam some 20m below the crest. Through the tunnel is a fork: take the steepish tarmac road to the L. This zigzags up then goes through another tunnel (1km long and an uncomfortably narrow 2.3m). This emerges into a higher valley: follow the gravel road to a parking area (or use verge) just before barrier (it seems permissible to drive further up beyond the barrier, which was open all the time we were there, but this would give little advantage unless you have a high clearance vehicle).

Hike the L fork here (past the barrier with the red disc on white), passing L of a dam and smaller reservoir, then continue up the long scenic valley. Eventually the wide track passes a concrete headwall with a stream emerging, at N46:30.046', E008:59.868', 2005m, 2h from trailhead. Here a faint shortcut path climbs half-left across grassy slopes, soon becoming obvious and joining the main trail higher up. The main trail passes the turn to a lower hut jusdt past the stream, reaches a saddle then continues steeply E to reach the Adula hut in another 1h - fine scenic location.

The hut is a friendly place, with a lady guardian speaking (at least) Italian and German and a Nepali assistant who has good English. Lee had phoned to find out the meal time: it was 19:00 but it wouldn't be a problem if we arrived late. We got there about 19:15 just after they had started serving, and enjoyed a good meal and a quiet night's sleep.

Sunday we were up at 05:20 and away just after 6. It was already almost light and we could have started a little earlier. The trail initially heads S from the hut (large cairns and red+white paint waymarks) then soon turns E, ascends a very neat moraine ridge, turns L again to surmount some crags then back R (in general direction of summit) to cross bouldery slopes (cairned trail).

There is a route choice at N46:30.114', E009:01.24', 2930m. We continued straight ahead here to cross a small snowfield before arriving at the edge of the glacier where we resorted to axe, crampons, rope and harness. However, the hut guardian's recommended route involves forking R at the above co-ords, crossing 100m of boulders, to emerge on the galier at little lower down qwhere the angle is a little easier for walking and there is little or no risk of rocks rolling that far down the glacier from the rock wall high above.

Once on the glacier there are several routes which eventually converge on a well worn trail contouring across the glacier which steepens to maybe 40-45deg before reaching the bergschrund (small and easily crossed when we were there in late Aug). A few metres beyond, cross a notch in the ridge then ascend R (S) on either steep snow with some water ice (L) or easy rock (R) to reach the summit (cross). The map shows a trig symbol: there is a small length of tube in a summit outcrop which could be trig-related.

Despite the good forecast the summit was in cloud: a pity as this is a very prominent peak with a big view. We descended the rock ridge initially (short - kept crampons on) then reversed the ascent route except we kept lower on the bottom part of the glacier to keep to softer snow and easier slopes of the guardian's recommended route.

Leaving the suimmit at 09:00 we were back at the hut just after 11; after a hot chocolate we headed down, reaching the trailhead at 13:40.

Next day we attempted Dammastock before being timed out, then bagged the easy but exquisite Wildspitz on our way back to Basel.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5639 ft / 1718 m
    Round-Trip Distance:13.7 mi / 22 km
    Route:North ridge
    Trailhead:Compietto  5522 ft / 1683 m
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Hut Camp
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes

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