Monday, May 18, 2015

Lötschental Breithorn South-West Face

Early March this year I was ski-touring at Lötschental and got really inspired by this beautiful face. By that time tricky conditions didn't allow to give it a try, but since then I was focused to ski it as soon as the right window opens.

On friday the 15th May conditions looked perfect. But I just arrived back from Rio de Janeiro the day before and was feeling pretty tired. As a bonus I brought along a stomach bug making me even weaker.. But the conditions and weather forecast looked too good to miss this opportunity. So I called Mikko in Chamonix and he was motivated to join next morning with Jesper Pettersson. We had a really long 2000 meter day ahead of us so we met 3am at Martigny. So lets see how diarrhea and partying at sea level with plenty of Caipirinhas work as preparation...

After arriving to Fafleralp we started hiking up the Innerstal at 5am. I still had some serious stomach issues, but looking at the line in front of us made me going. After 6 hours of hard work we made it to the summit. The face was really icy so we decided to wait for another hour to let it soften a bit.

We started our descent at around 12.30. After skiing the upper snow field the West facing main couloir was still icy. So we traversed to ski a line in middle of face, which had been baking in the sun already couple hours. On the way up I already climbed most of line so we knew there's a way through. This was a good call and we got the ski the face with some nice spring snow.

In 2008 and 2009 Remy Lecluse skied several first descent in the Bernese Oberland. The SW Face of Breithorn was one of them. Remy wrote that the line reminded a lot of the Whymper Couloir on the Aiguille Verte. I totally agree, but as a bonus this line is longer and can be skied basically from the summit. I'm thankful for Remy for the inspiration!

We started at 5 from parking at Fafleralp

Mikko and Jesper climbing up the main couloir while I was checking other descent options on the face. 

Steep section below the crux to reach the upper snow field leading to summut

Just above the crux  

Upper snow field was maybe 45 degrees

The summit ridge

Great views down to Lauterbrunnen valley with Eiger and Jungfrau towering behind

Great corn snow below the summit at 1pm

Mikko making final turns before the crux. 

Steep section after the crux

We found a nice steep hidden couloir proving the access to face proper 

Mikko skiing with ice axe?!? 

Some route finding between steep icy sections

It ain't over til its over ;-) 

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