Dom - the VDI / IAP / TK low PPo2 collaboration continues....
In the centre of the Mischabel mountain range in Valais lies the Dom peak:
"Dom of Mischabel" - Photo by Zacharie Grossen
Mid-July 2015 found an eclectic team - Jeffrey Hesler of VDI, Arnie Schroeder of the IAP, Bern, Trevor Walker and Lucy & Richard Wylde from TK - in the canton of Wallis in the south of Switzerland. Organized as a return match from the VDI/TK trip up Mt.Rainier in 2014, the attempt on the highest mountain fully in Switzerland proved to be quite as challenging as expected. The whole process was supervised by our longstanding (and outstanding) guide Dres Abegglen and his mountain guide colleague Carla Häggi.
the MetOP-SG Load Team....
Left to right: Jeffery Hesler, Lucy Wylde, Trevor Walker, Richard Wylde and Arne Schröder.
Apart from a love of mountains - the team had much to talk about as they ascended the lower mountain slopes from the Randa Station on the railway line from Visp to Zermatt. All are, one way or another ... as electromagnetic designer, test equipments supplier, manufacturer or commercial lawyer ... connect with the supply to Airbus Defence and Space Ltd of Calibration Loads for the next generation of Eumetsat MetOP-SG microwave satellite instruments.
The 3100M ascent - the longest in Europe - to the top of the Dom.
The red line shows the route, taken from a winter ski-touring map.
Direction from the hut.... In our case (and others that day) the 6 hours was a bit optimistic...
A long way to go
A morning ascent to the Dom Hutte allowed a few hours rest - helping to acclimatise to the thin air at 3000 M - before an early dinner at 6.30pm. The rhythm of hut life is much driven by the sun and the softening of ice bridges across glacial crevasses. We were all in bed by 8pm, to face the challenge of getting up at 2.30am for a short breakfast.
The Dom Hutte looking south towards Zermatt's Matterhorn
Starting on the dot at three am, we climbed under head torchlight for an hour along a dusty ridge, scrambling over loose rocks. A moving chain of light could be see both above and below us, from the head torches of the other climbers. As we reached the glacier - a longer climb than in the past, given the retreat of the Festigletcher - we roped up and added crampons to our boots and started walking, with the evil spikes biting into the ice and snow. Not all of the crevasses were visible and occasionally one of us would slip a leg into the snow as a small snow-bridge collapsed.
A small miss-step and you drop into one of these
Another hour and a half found us at the Festig ridge as the sun started to illuminate proceedings.
Dres, Lucy and Richard (the party of 3) approach the Festijoch Ridge at 3723 Metres, at around 5.30 am
Having scrambled up the ridges, and abseiled down a small ice-covered drop, we all started traversing a long arc - avoiding an area full of crevasses - to reach a steeper section around four thousand metres. By then the sun was getting up and the thin air starting to impair our climbing rate. The final 500M will have taken us a good three hours - switching backwards and forwards to reduce the steepness of the slope. The ice axe been a very necessary piece of equipment
Jeffrey, Arne & Trevor at the Cathedral's Cross
...the Matterhorn is off to the left at only 4,478 m
The Wylde contingent - splendidly helped by Dres - was a bit slower but arrived just before 11 am, having been fortified by a product of the Coca-Cola Company: Terrible stuff - rots teeth etc.... but if you need sugar and caffeine fast...
At the top at 4545.4 Meters (don't forget the 0.4 ) - 14911 ft - Left to right: Arne, Dres, Lucy , Richard, Jeffrey & Trevor
To miss-quote Wellington in the anniversary year of Waterloo, obtaining this picture was a "Damn Close Run Thing". 5 hours to get down, including the delights of abseiling down the Festig ridge,
Lucy happy to have some more Oxygen to breathe.
and another night in the hut to recover, before returning to normal atmospheric pressure the following day.
Richard and Jeffrey find it as hard to go down as up
Pictures by Trevor Walker & Dres Abagglen
Richard Wylde July 2015