Ober Gabelhorn

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Ober Gabelhorn

Photo of the Ober Gabelhorn
Ober Gabelhorn (left) & Wellenkuppe (right), seen from the S

General
Elevation 4,053 m13,297.244 ft
2.518 miles
Prominence 536 m0.333 miles
1,758.53 ft
Location Valais, Switzerland
Range Pennine Alps
Massif Weisshorn Group
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Coordinates
DMS Coor. 46°2´18"N, 7°40´4"E
Swiss Coor. 617766 / 98573
Links Topographic Detail

Coordinates Information

Nearby Features
Arben Bivouac, Col Durand, Grand Mountet Hut, Mammouth, Mont Durand, Rothorn Hut, Trifthorn (Weisshorn Group), Wellenkuppe, Zinal Rothorn
Alpinist's Info
Topo. Map SLK 1327: Evolène
Easiest Route Rating AD AD
Map
Ober Gabelhorn (Switzerland )
Ober Gabelhorn
Ober Gabelhorn
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Contents

[edit] General information

The Ober Gabelhorn (4063 m) is a mountain in the Pennine Alps in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, located between Zermatt and Zinal.

[edit] Geography

The Ober Gabelhorn lies in the Swiss canton of Valais at the southern end of the Zinal valley (part of the Val d'Anniviers). It rises, together with the Dent Blanche (west) and the Zinalrothorn (north), above the Zinal Glacier. On the south side lies the Zmutt Glacier in the valley of Zmutt, which extends west of Zermatt. The Ober Gabelhorn has a pyramidal shape, similar to the nearby Matterhorn but on a smaller scale. Only the smooth north face is completely glaciated, the other faces being mostly rocky. The south-west ridge is called the Arbengrat while the north-north-west ridge is the Arête du Coeur. The south-east ridge looking over the Ober Gabeljoch (3,597 m) is the Gabelhorngrat. The Wellenkuppe is a lower prominence on the north-east ridge; it is usually climbed as part of the normal route. Huts serving the peak are the Rothorn Hut (3,198 m), the Grand Mountet Hut (2,886 m) and the Arben Bivouac (3,224 m).

[edit] Climbing history

The first ascent was by A. W. Moore, Horace Walker and Jakob Anderegg on 6 July 1865, via the east face.

The second ascent of the peak, and the first by the north-north-west ridge, was made one day later by Lord Francis Douglas, Peter Taugwalder and Joseph Vianin on 7 July 1865. At the time of their ascent they were not aware of Moore and party's success on the previous day. Douglas and Taugwalder made several attempts before they reached the summit.

P. Inäbnit accompanied them on the first attempt from the south-east ridge. They didn't have enough time to go higher than the base of the mountain. On the second attempt they reached the Wellenkuppe (3,903 m) on the north-east ridge (the normal route today) but they considered that the ridge above was too difficult to continue. They finally reached the summit on their third attempt (Inäbnit having been replaced by Viennin). They were disconcerted to see some footprints on the east face (made by Moore, Walker and Anderegg on the previous day), but were relieved that no traces were visible on the summit. Not aware of the dangers that might have made the previous expedition turn back, they sat down on the summit to have lunch. Suddenly an avalanche started and everything on the summit began to fall away from them. Douglas and Taugwalder were swept away, but they were roped to Viennin who was a little distance below the summit. Viennin was able to belay Taugwalder and Douglas with the rope, which didn't break. Francis Douglas returned to Zermatt, and was killed a week later on 14 July on the first ascent of the Matterhorn.

The Arbengrat was first climbed in 1874 by H. S. Hoare and E. Hulton with guides J. von Bergen, P. Rubi and J. Moser.

The route on the Gabelhorngrat was opened three years later in 1877 by J. Walker Hartley, W. E. Davidson, P. Rubi and J. Juan.

The north face, similar to but 'rather steeper' than the north-east face of the Lenzspitze, was first climbed on 30 July 1930 by H. Kiener and R. Schwarzgruber. They started from Zermatt at midnight and made a direct 2,000-metre ascent to the Triftjoch. They reached the base of the north face after having traversed the crevasses of the Ober Gabelhorn Glacier and successfully climbed it. This route was repeated only once until 1951. First winter ascent was by P. Sala and B. Steulet on 1 Mar. 1969 and the first ski descent was by M. Burtscher and K. Jerchke on 16 July 1977.

Christian Klucker and L. Norman-Neruda made the first ascent of the east-north-east ridge on 1 August 1890. Nowadays most of the climbers use this route, starting at the Rothorn Hut (above Zermatt) and passing over the summit of the Wellenkuppe. The major obstacle, the Klucker Turm (a Grand Gendarme), is equipped with ropes since 1918.

The south face was done in 1892 by Percy Farrer with Daniel Maquignaz as guide.

[edit] Routes

red: ENE ridge; blue: N face; green: NNW ridge (Coeurgrat) with alternative approach (yellow)
red: ENE ridge; blue: N face; green: NNW ridge (Coeurgrat); pink: WSW ridge (Arbengrat)
pink: WSW ridge (Arbengrat); brown: S face; orange: SE ridge (Gabelhorngrat) with alternative approach if glacier is bad (cyan); red: ENE ridge

[edit] East-North-East Ridge (AD)

ENE ridge with Grand Gendarme in the center

Although it was the last of the four ridges to be climbed, this is the ordinary route from the Rothorn Hut and involves a traverse of the Wellenkuppe. The ridge itself is mostly snow with rock in its upper part. The amount of rocking showing through the snow cover seems to vary from year to year and can, on occasions, be quite considerable. The main obstacle on the climb is the Grand Gendarme which is at the foot of the ridge. This is very steep on the Wellenkuppe side but has fixed ropes to ease the ascent. SidCrward,Eome Rodri, anch'io sono curioso di vedere se Sertes porrà davvero una certa domanda a MM, come ieri sembrava risoluto a fare. Resto in attesa di sviluppi.La domanda in questione è alla fine del video della seconda parte delle domande. From the Rothorn Hut climb NW up the glacier combe until a little way short of the rock wall below Pt. 3,658 m and Pt. 3,790 m. Turn SW and climb the glacier slope whilst gradually turning S to reach a snowy shoulder, clearly indicated on the map, which extends across the E face of the mountain. Climb the ridge above the shoulder, turning the first steep section on the L. Back on the ridge continue dor 100 m to a small buttress which is also turned on the L. Return immediately to the ridge and reach the final steep setion which is quite impressive looking but easily climbed. A snow crest leads to the summit of Wellenkuppe. Descend the broad snow ridge leading W to where it narrows and becomes corniced. Keep on the R side here and reach the foot of the Grand Gendarme. Climb snowed-up slabs and some easy rocks to the bottom end of the fixed rope and use this to climb to the rop of the gendarme (20m, strenuous). Descend easily along the crest of the gendarme then along the continuing snow ridge to a low point. Now climb the ridge, generally keeping on the R side on snow then rock to the summit. If a lot of rock is exposed there will be sections of III (rappel on descent). (3h from Wellenkuppe, 6h from hut)

[edit] South Face (D)

Rocky S face

The S face is almost entirely rock which is steep and good quality gneiss. Its S facing aspect and its steepness ensures that it dries quickly and holds little snow. However it does catch the sun early and routes on the face are exposed to the risk of stonefall so an early start is essential. A feature to look for is the Grand Gendarme on the WSW ridge, this can be picked out from the Arben Bivouac. It is the largest step on the ridge below which is a gap and then a small, sharp gendarme. A couloir descends from the Grand Gendarme to the foot of the face. A good climb with several pitons in place. SidCrward,Eome Rodri, anch'io sono curioso di vedere se Sertes porrà davvero una certa domanda a MM, come ieri sembrava risoluto a fare. Resto in attesa di sviluppi.La domanda in questione è alla fine del video della seconda parte delle domande. Head N from the Arben Bivouac to reach the snow ramp leading R across the foot of the face. Follow this ramp to the foot of the couloir mentioned above which has a rock rib on each side. Either rib can be climbed but it is probably better to climb the one on the R. Move up the rib (III, IV) to where it steepens into a vertical pillar. Climb this (IV) for 50m to reach a black ramp (Vire de Charbon) and follow it R into a snowy couloir. Climb up this or the rocks on the L side (R bank) for three pitches (III+) to another ramp. From the ramp a dièdre leads up between the twin summits. Climb 40m up this (IV+) then traverse L for a pitch (III) before easy climbing leads to the top. (5-7h)

Note: a fairly direct line known as the Überkinger Pillar, finishing at the Gabel, was climbed solo by J. Straub on 19 Aug. 1984 (D+; IV and V; some stonefall danger).

[edit] West-South-West Ridge (Arbengrat) (AD)

Arbengrat

A very fine climb, up or down; with excellent rock conditions (perhaps the finest of the Valais 4000ers) on the ridge making this an under appreciated Alpine Classic. The ridge starts at the Arbenjoch which can be reached by a traverse of Mont Durand. Climbed in its entirety, this makes for a long day out from the Mountet Hut or Schönbiel Hut so most parties climbing this ridge will start from the Arben Bivouac and join the ridge some way above its lowest point. The majority of parties traversing the mountain ascend this ridge and descend the ENE ridge but really there is little to choose between doing it in this direction or in reverse. SidCrward,Eome Rodri, anch'io sono curioso di vedere se Sertes porrà davvero una certa domanda a MM, come ieri sembrava risoluto a fare. Resto in attesa di sviluppi.La domanda in questione è alla fine del video della seconda parte delle domande. From the Arben Bivouac climb N across rock and névé to reach the foot of the S face where a rocky nose pokes out from the face and above which a long and partly snow-covered ramp slants up L to the ridge. Climb a couloir to the top of the nose and so gain access to the ramp. Follow this to the ridge which is joined at a small notch. This point is reached in 30 min from the Arbenjoch if approaching via Mont Durand. In descent it is important to locate this point. It is at roughly half-height between the lowest point and the Grand Gendarme and its most obvious feature is the top of the ramp on the S side which is almost horizontal for 15m and resembles a path.

Continue up the ridge, turning any difficulties on the L (maximum difficulty III-) to reach a pointed gendarme. Turn this on the R side (III-) and continue along the ridge to the base of the Grand Gendarme. Slant down on its L into a dièdre and climb this to where it steepens abruptly. Now move L until it is possible to climb back to the crest (III+) just beyond the gendarme. In descent a single rappel of 40m from the near top of the gendarme or two rappels using an intermediaire piton overcome the step.

Keep on the crest now until you reach snow on the L side. Cross this to the bottom of the final rise which is turned on the L by traversing across slabs for 40m and climbing a couple of short steps (III) which lead to a little wall on the L and the summit. (3.5-4h)

[edit] North-North-West Ridge (Coeurgrat) (AD)

Mountet Hut and Ober Gabelhorn (right) with frontal view on the Coeurgrat

Climbed on the day after the first ascent of the mountain. This is the ridge descending towards the Grand Mountet Hut and forms the ordinary route from that hut. In normal conditions the route is mostly on snow, the upper snow being quite pleasant but steep. Don't be too late in the day if you intend on descending this way, soft snow can be quite dangerous. The alternative, if returning to the Grand Mountet Hut, is to descend the Arbengrat and traverse Mont Durand to reach the Col Durand.

For some time the lower part of this route was abandoned in favour of a more direct line on the L of the lowest part of the ridge; however, recent changes have made that route much less appealing. The present day route via the Coeur is not too inviting, especially when there is little snow cover.

SidCrward,Eome Rodri, anch'io sono curioso di vedere se Sertes porrà davvero una certa domanda a MM, come ieri sembrava risoluto a fare. Resto in attesa di sviluppi.La domanda in questione è alla fine del video della seconda parte delle domande. From the Grand Mountet Hut follow a track S on to the Mountet Glacier before heading SE towards Le Coeur, the heart-shaped rock island at Pt. 3,090 m. Pass this on the N or S side to its upper edge and then climb up to a break line, partly snow covered, slanting up R or L across the ridge. Follow this line all the way across the ridge, descending a little on the E side on to a steep snow slope above a narrowing couloir. Climb the slope bearing slightly L to the lower edge of the glacier plateau below the N face. More steep snow and probably a band of rock leads back to the crest of the ridge. If snow cover is poor it may be necessary to continue towards the N face before climbing steeply Rwards up to the ridge. Once on the ridge, it is followed to the summit. (5-6h)

[edit] North Face (TD-)

View on the Obergabelhorn N face

A straightforward snow/ice slope comparable with the NE face of the Lenzspitze, except that in this case the final 100m is much steeper and is mainly rock: most parties avoid this section. This is a wonderful symmetric face standing above a tormented glacier basin. The first ascent party climbed the route in a day from Zermatt, crossing the Triftjoch and descending into this basin from where they climbed to the foot of the face. The approach to the face today from the basin is less sure and although a way might be negotiated up a glacier ramp running parallel to the NNW ridge, nowadays almost every party approaches from the Grand Mountet Hut via the route to the Coeurgrat. The face itself is 450m high and has an angle of 55°. SidCrward,Eome Rodri, anch'io sono curioso di vedere se Sertes porrà davvero una certa domanda a MM, come ieri sembrava risoluto a fare. Resto in attesa di sviluppi.La domanda in questione è alla fine del video della seconda parte delle domande. From the Grand Mountet Hut follow a track S on to the Mountet Glacier before heading SE towards Le Coeur, the heart-shaped rock island at Pt. 3,090 m. Pass this on the N or S side to its upper edge and then climb up to a break line, partly snow covered, slanting up R or L across the ridge. Follow this line all the way across the ridge, descending a little on the E side on to a steep snow slope above a narrowing couloir. Climb the slope bearing slightly L to the lower edge of the glacier plateau below the N face. Follow this SE to below the bergschrund. Cross this where possible, often the most difficult bit of the climb, then take a direct line towards the summit. Below the final rocks exit on to the NNW ridge or the ENE ridge. (2,5-4h for the face, 6h from the hut)

[edit] South-East Ridge (Gabelhorngrat) (AD+)

A route which is becoming better known ssince the opening of the Arben Bivouac. Well worth some attention. SidCrward,Eome Rodri, anch'io sono curioso di vedere se Sertes porrà davvero una certa domanda a MM, come ieri sembrava risoluto a fare. Resto in attesa di sviluppi.La domanda in questione è alla fine del video della seconda parte delle domande. From the Arben Bivouac head NE across the E branch of the Arben Glacier to reach the rock wall below the Obergabeljoch (Pt. 3,597 m). Terraces slant down L from the col across this wall. Utilise these terraces which are gained on the extreme L and climb to the col (1h). Just above the col cross a bergschrund (sometimes awkward) then climb rocks above bearing R. A nice snow crest leads to a sqaure-cut gendarme. Traverse it or turn it on the R then follow the ridge which is in parts snow and in parts rock. Eventually the ridge steepens. Climb two big steps easily and reach a red-coloured tower. Turn this on the R (delicate and bit loose, IV) then continue along a the fine, exposed crest to the Gabel (a gendarme which forms a sort of fork with the summit rocks, well seen from the Wellenkuppe. Beyond the Gabel is a snow crest, cross this to the slabs of the summit block. Turn these by a traverse R and so reach the summit. (5-6h)

If the Arben Glacier is impassable it should be possible to reach the ridge at a higher point by following the S face route on to the ramp below the S face and then following this Rwards to reach the ridge.

[edit] Overview

Route Name Hei. Dif. Dur. (h) Type Rock ° Valley Hut S. Gain Maps

Hei.:Height, Dif.: Difficulty, Dur.: Duration, S. Gain: Meters from hut to summit
Summit map is always listed first. If a map is used for 2 km and another map for 1 km, the 2 km map will be listed before the 1 km map. Overview of the Swiss maps & Italian maps.


[edit] Additional photos

[edit] Recommended books

      The Alpine 4000m Peaks by the Classic Routes by Richard Goedeke

      Valais Alps East: Selected Climbs (Alpine Club Guides) by Les Swindin

      Valais Alps West: Selected Climbs (Alpine Club Guides) by Lindsay Griffin

      Alpine Climbing: Techniques to Take You Higher (Mountaineers Outdoor Expert) by Cathy Cosley

      Valais West: Zinal - Arolla - Verbier - Rhone Valley (Rother Walking Guide) by Michael Waeber & Hans Steinbichler

  • You can click the images to get a bigger image of the front cover!
  • We offer you a direct deeplink to Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de to buy the book. Amazon is the biggest online store in the world and offers a safe environment to buy anything you want.

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