4164 m ; 900 m, 200 m 55°, 300 m 50°, 300 m 40°- 45°; North ; TD+ ; 5.4/ E4
In green our variant to access the 2nd face avoiding the short rapp and the risk of snow slide due to sketchy snow conditions
I was feeling the need to the leave the Chamonix circus for a couple of days and ride different mountains somewhere else.
I believe that when we are ready for something it just happens. Whilst driving home from work late at night, I received a text from Matteo asking me if I was motivated to ski something on Mont Rose.
We spent the next morning checking forecast and organizing what Matteo called “the over limits orgasm !” which consisted of riding the north face of Breithorn, skinning up the Hornli hut and skiing the east face of Matterhorn the next day.
Tom Grant decided to bail on his original plan and came along with me to meet Matteo in Martigny.
I had never ridden with Matteo before, our only contact had been via email and telephone but we got on pretty well. He is a “gipsy soul” like me and didn’t seem to take himself too seriously.
Everything was promising except for the fact we were going to ride in the weird and obtuse part of the world called Switzerland.
Arriving late and parking in the safest spot we could find, we were woken by an hysterical Swiss woman, taking pics of us and threatening to call the police if we did not pay 20 francs because we had parked on her rotten, abandoned piece of land, knee deep of weeds and what she called “The hotel parking”. Little did she know that the last thing to scare Italian’s is by telling them that you are calling the police, so we headed off and took the train from Tasch to Zermatt where we then had to pay a ridiculous amount of money (96 swiss francs) to take the lifts (with a middle station way down).
The west Breithorn it is a very easy 4000 m peak to climb along the south face; it is only 1 hour – 1 ½ hour skinning or walking from the lift. The difficulty of this line is that you ride it by sight and without having a clear look on the way up.
This I guess being the main reason why it is so rarely skied.
The 0 termique was really high, it was a really hot day and we spent a few minutes procrastinating if we should have gone or not. As usual, we turned off our thinking and decided to go and have a look.
The snow was pretty wet and slidey, making the descent even more tricker.
We stayed on the rope to cross a couple of short 3 meters ice sections before entering the main couloir.
When I had first read the relation of this descent in the guidebook specifying that the maximum steepness of this route was 60°, I kindly smiled at the time. I thought that it is pretty impossible on the Alps to ski 60° slopes, however when I first entered the exit couloir I suddenly stopped smiling. It is probably not the suggested 60° but at least a sustained 55° and at least for 200 m.
Lower down we skied on a ridge made by snow bridges laying between crevasses and seracs. Due to the hot conditions we decided to make a variant access the 2nd slope, avoiding the super exposed and dangerous field that leads you to the short rappel or jump if the snow is good. The second face was sluffing a lot of wet snow.
The east face of Matterhorn melted down like an ice-cream in front of our eyes and within only 4 hours.
I twisted a knee in the lower part hitting slushy snow and the long skinning back up was even more painful.
Although we did not find the perfect snow conditions we had a great skiing day alone and far from a crowd. Unfortunately we still had to leave Switzerland and had another Epic at the border with Swiss police.
After almost one hour of answering questions to the Nazi inquiry we were finally free to go and I was pretty glad to be returning back to Europe
PROBABLY FIRST SNOWBOARD DESCENT
Here is the video made by Matteo