| Breithorn - SSW Flank (Zermatt, Switzerland)
Over six months ago, while trying to figure out where to take our honeymoon, my (then) fiance and I initially started looking at beach-y resorts because, well, that's what you're supposed to do for your honeymoon right? Going to a tropical island somewhere, lounging by the pool or ocean and drinking daquiris all day seems to be the norm (not that I think that sounds terrible or anything...). We explored all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean (Aruba, Dominican Republic); high rise hotels in Hawaii; and rainforest bungalows in Costa Rica. Nothing really seemed to stand out to us so we put honeymoon plans on the back burner for awhile. Eventually, we had to make a decision. I can't remember what made me first bring up Switzerland, but I could barely get "Switz" out of my mouth before Jordan (jmc5040) looked at me and excitedly exclaimed, "YES!" We both thought, 'why not go all out for our honeymoon? Who knows when we'll have this opportunity again?' It was pretty difficult to pinpoint where in Switzerland we wanted to stay, but we knew hiking had to be involved - and we wanted to do some of the larger peaks in the Alps. Luckily, we were able to get some great advice and travel books from Kathy, who had just gone to Switzerland on her honeymoon in 2012. Plans were made, flights & hotels booked, and finally we got two 4000m peaks on our to-do list. We were visiting Chamonix, FR for two nights; Zermatt, Switzerland for three; and Grindelwald, Switzerland for four.
Our wedding day came quickly and the very next evening we found ourselves on our way, as husband and wife, to DIA for our first transatlantic flight. We managed to get all of our climbing gear, hiking clothes and some "normal" clothes into three large suitcases and our two packs (carryons). We got our boarding passes from the British Airways counter and made our way to the gate. Our journey had officially begun! Fast forward 5 days... we had been having a great time in Chamonix, FR for two nights and we were now in Zermatt, Switzerland, making our way up the Klein Matterhorn cable car that takes you 3,883 meters - giving us an awesome panoramic view of Italian, French and Swiss mountains. From here, we had plans to climb our first 4000m peak in Switzerland.
Me pointing to the Breithorn summit from our valley hike the day prior
Kleine Matterhorn Cable Car
Taking in the views; top station to the left
Once we stepped out of the cable car station at the top, we roped up and got everything ready for our first *real* roped up glacier climb. We had taken a crevasse rescue course, practiced with ropes and read about technique. But this was the first time either of us truly got to put any of what we learned into action. After getting all ready, we started to make our way towards the Breithorn Plateau. We were just so amazed - we stopped many times to take photos before we got to the point where we could turn NE to start making our way up the south flank of the mountain.
Jordan near where we turned NE, with the route visible
The climb itself was very easy. The Breithorn is one of the most popular peaks in the Swiss Alps to climb because of its accessibility via the Kleine Matterhorn, as well as it having a fairly low difficulty rating. The slope doesn't exceed 35 degrees. For these reasons, we chose not to hire a guide for this peak, although a majority of the other groups we saw climbing had. Being in good "hiking shape" and having the knowledge of roped snow travel made our climb enjoyable and we faced no difficulties (except forgetting sunscreen!!). There were no visible crevasses along the route - a few could be seen near the top of the gully that goes down the north face below the cable car station at Kleine Matterhorn.
Jordan & another rope team
Views along the route
We made it to the summit in just under two hours, where we were able to have some solitude on an otherwise crowded route. We had what seemed like a mini photo shoot on the summit, taking tons of photos of each other and of the breathtaking views of the Alps. Words and photos can't even describe how beautiful these views were. We could clearly see the Matterhorn (it had been socked in the previous two days we were in Zermatt), as well as many other 4000m peaks.
Jordan on summit, looking NNE
Me on summit, with Matterhorn behind
Glacier from summit (I believe it may be the Gorner Glacier??)
Looking down the SSW Flank from the summit
We didn't want to leave the summit, but knew we had to get back down and couldn't stay all day. We made quick work of the descent and before we knew it, we were back to the roped ski area where we unroped. We had a nice relaxing ride back down to town in the cable car and gondolas, checking out the more scary looking north face of the Breithorn.
Jordan after the climb, with Breithorn behind him
Me, after the climb with Breithorn behind
North face of Breithorn and its crevasses
Climbing the Breithorn was a great introduction to climbing peaks in Switzerland, and our successful climb truly prepared me and boosted my confidence for our second and final 4000m climb in three days... the Monch in Grindelwald (trip report to follow).
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):