Switzerland-Day2
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07/18/03
Mine and John's original climbing plan was to attempt the route that most folks descend from the Eiger. Based on info from folks on the Russia trip, we opted to climb the Eigers neighbor, The Mönch standing at 13,448ft instead. We got up real early and headed for the first train after stealing some rolls that the bakery just delivered to the hotel. It was great to see not a cloud in the sky and alpinglow on the hanging glacier up the valley. They have a "good morning ticket" up to the Jongfraujoch, but you have to leave to come back down on the noon train, fat chance that was happening but we got the ticket anyway. The train climbs steadily from about 3300ft in Grindelwald up to Kleine Scheidegg at 6600ft then continues on through (yes through) the Eiger, through The Mönch, and ends up behind the Jongfrau up around 11,000ft. We could see the route up the Eigers descent route, and were glad we chose The Mönch instead.
Someone years ago had a vision to bring tourist way up the mountain to the glacier and ended up boring a hole right through the Eiger to do it. Strange, but effective and a great idea. The Jongfraujoch is a tourist heaven, several view points of the rugged and glaciated Alps all around, restaurants, shops, an "ice palace" and all sorts of options to spend money. We flew past all of this and got on the glacier for the short hike towards the climbers hut and the start of the climb. From the glacier it sure didn't look like 2400ft to the summit ridge, but we could see the route up the ridge and it kept switching from rock to snow and ice. We harnessed up and started working out the loose rocky ridge. Some class 3 and 4 moves most of the way and gained altitude fast. At the first snow field we roped up and strapped on the crampons. It was about 30 degrees or so, but a pretty thin ridge to the next section or rock. Each rock or snow section looked more difficult than the last and we stayed roped up working our way up. From here it looked more like 2400ft to the summit ridge and the glacier and tourists below kept getting smaller and small, but the views kept getting more and more spectacular! Seemed like the glaciers and peaks never stopped in the distance. I was pretty freaked out at a few spots and definitely would've turned around if I was climbing solo, luckily John's a better climber so I had to keep going. He later told me that he was pretty freaked out at times also, I'm just glad he waited to tell me after the climb!
The higher we got on the knife-edge ridge the more exposure we encountered and the drop-offs on either side were HUGE! Our plan was that if one of us fell, the other had to jump down the other side as counterweight so we wouldn't both get pulled off. Yikes! The ridge got thin enough at one point that we couldn't even put two feet next to each other. All I could do to keep moving was to look at my feet and a couple inches ahead! Soon we were at the last pitch of snow and it was the steepest section, probably about 50 degrees and enough that we had to use the pick of the ice axe to work our way up. Luckily there were spots to set up a running belay that would hopefully hold us if we fell. The snow section eventually leveled out some and we were walking on the downside of a huge overhanging cornice. It was amazing!! The whole way up I was dreading the down climb, and it wasn't long off. 
We only spent about a minute on the windy and tiny summit before heading back down. There was a guided group on their way up and we had quite a traffic jam at a bad spot. There was barely enough room for one person and John and I had to squeeze past them without peeling off the slope. I was thinking how damn good the beer would taste if we ever got off this thing! The down climbing is harder and slower than the up climbing cause you can't see where you are trying to put your feet or hands. Pretty scary and slow going again at times. Eventually we were back on the broken and loose ledges near where we started. I started to feel more relieved and thinking back to other climbs, I now had a new favorite climb. It was a perfect mixed rock, snow climb at altitude up a knife-edge ridge in the middle of the beautiful Alps!!!!! Once back down on the glacier a crevasse had opened up that we walked right across earlier! So back out with the ropes, harnesses, and axe. Not knowing how big the lip was we belayed each other and took a flying leap of faith over to the other side! What a great way to end the climb! Walking back we came across Peggy and went into the Jongfraujoch for beers and to see the touristy stuff. The view points were damn cool, and the ice palace was neat too. Its a hallway carved out of the glacier ice with ice sculptures carved everywhere in little coves! It was similar to ice skating around. The train ride down had great views and John was trying to mentally prepare to take over the baby for the rest of the day. It was a spectacular view from the Kleine Scheidegg of the Eiger, the Mönch, and the Jongfrau all lined up next to each other. Pigged out at the local pizza joint for dinner and drank a bunch of Rugenbrau (local beer) on the deck.

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140-switz day2.jpg (32786 bytes) View from our porch in the early morning sun 142-switz day2.jpg (49022 bytes)

143-switz day2.jpg (80978 bytes) The Eiger; Our train in the tunnel going through the Eiger 144-switz day2.jpg (72630 bytes)

145-switz day2.jpg (83081 bytes) Glacier; Part of the view from the glacier at Jongfraujoch  146-switz day2.jpg (59019 bytes)

147-switz day2.jpg (60022 bytes) More views from the glacier 148-switz day2.jpg (81235 bytes)

150-switz day2.jpg (63240 bytes) John on the way to our climb; More views 151-switz day2.jpg (66835 bytes)

152-switz day2.jpg (120752 bytes) First section of rock on the way up; view towards The Eiger during the climb 153-switz day2.jpg (56674 bytes)

154-switz day2.jpg (75482 bytes) First section of snow along the ridge; summit peeking out in the back 155-switz day2.jpg (61085 bytes)

156-switz day2.jpg (76714 bytes) More ice, then rock, then ice again; An awesome picture along the summit ridge 157-switz day2.jpg (38615 bytes)

158-switz day2.jpg (76968 bytes) The quick summit shots before heading back down 159-switz day2.jpg (73578 bytes)

160-switz day2.jpg (79953 bytes) The Eiger; Huge glacier in the distance 161-switz day2.jpg (78190 bytes)

162-switz day2.jpg (58827 bytes) More views 163-switz day2.jpg (83297 bytes)

165-switz day2.jpg (86415 bytes) On the way back down finally; 166-switz day2.jpg (57695 bytes)

167-switz day2.jpg (52743 bytes) Our "leaps of faith" over a crevasse that opened up during the day 168-switz day2.jpg (51565 bytes)

169-switz day2.jpg (58957 bytes) Ran into Peggy shortly after the climb; HUGE crevasse with snowcat tracks 170-switz day2.jpg (40011 bytes)

171-switz day2.jpg (58054 bytes) Crevasse, glaciers, and high peaks everywhere 172-switz day2.jpg (50051 bytes)

173-switz day2.jpg (51645 bytes) Another view of the glacier; The Eiger from the train 174-switz day2.jpg (80246 bytes)

The Ice Palace: 175-switz day2.jpg (44522 bytes)  176-switz day2.jpg (50865 bytes)  179-switz day2.jpg (42714 bytes)  177-switz day2.jpg (48011 bytes)  178-switz day2.jpg (50682 bytes)  

180-switz day2.jpg (106895 bytes) The Eiger from the train near Kleine Scheidegg; North Face of The Mönch 182-switz day2.jpg (84357 bytes)

184-switz day2.jpg (86612 bytes) The Jongfrau from Kleine Scheidegg; The Mönch from Kleine Scheidegg 185-switz day2.jpg (93915 bytes)

186-switz day2.jpg (96296 bytes) The Eiger from Kleine Scheidegg; Our train 188-switz day2.jpg (105296 bytes)

190-switz day2.jpg (79943 bytes) North face of the Eiger; View from our hotel balcony 191-switz day2.jpg (82245 bytes)

192-switz day2.jpg (88826 bytes) The Eiger from our balcony

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