Wallis August 2000

Part 1: Mischabel

Täschhorn (4491 m) from Domhütte
Dom (4545 m), Festigrat

Claudia Bäumler, Helmut Hackl, Hartmut Bielefeldt
Author of this text: Hartmut Bielefeldt

Trip report
August 7-9, 2000

Monday, August 7, 2000: Ascent to Domhütte
The fourth rainy weekend in a row, and also on the working days in between not much better. Landslides and snowfall on the Alps passes - July 2000 was nothing to write home about. Therefore it was all the more astonishing to realize that we might actually see some sun during our holiday week.
The village of Randa - on time within a minute, we meet our friend Helmut Hackl (Cho Oyu 1999) and begin the long ascent to Domhütte under sunny skies.
Arriving at the hut after four hours of effort, we are treated to the second surprise of the day: We get three places to sleep, A luxury that many visitors wouldn't get in the following days. But maybe the places in the guestroom would even have offered more space than the regular ones.
Tuesday, August 8, 2000: Täschhorn
Tuesday morning at three o'clock. After a quick breakfast we start at four for the Täschhorn. The first part of the way is the same as for Dom, but from 3400 m on it becomes more lonely. At about seven, we reach Festi-Kin-Lücke (3734 m); there are five groups on the way to Täschhorn.
The sun is already on the Weisshorn

The sun is already on the Weisshorn
Not very obvious, the so-called 'band'
Not very obvious, the so-called 'band'
The traverse to Kingletscher crosses a rather delicate terrain and therefore takes as much as an hour. The "sort of a band" which is mentioned in the SAC guidebook seems to be an object of fantasy, since we have to go down through loose scree with some pithes of II.
From the Kingletscher, we soon are on the large ramp at P.3816 and looking up at the rest of the route which is virtually free of further obstacles. We climb the increasingly steep slopes (up to 45°). Except for a few meters where we find hard ice beneath the snow, all is on good and firm snow. But it is a disadvantage of this route is that right until the very top, it stays in the shade all morning.
At the ridge, it is very windy. The five British in front of use cause a considerable traffic jam so there is no way to pass on the narrow crest. We skip the very top and enjoy the view from a shoulder 30 m below the main summit. The view is probably not as complete as from the very top, but looking down the south wall is overwhelming anyway.
At the summit crest of Täschhorn
At the summit crest of Täschhorn
The ridge to Mischabeljoch is under deep snow
The ridge to Mischabeljoch is under deep snow
View from Fest-Kin-Lücke to Täschhorn
View from Fest-Kin-Lücke to Täschhorn. The last steep step at the summit ridge is clearly visible.

Except for the re-ascent to Festi-Kin-Lücke, there is not much exciting about the way back. At half past three we are back at Domhütte.
By coincidence we meet Florian from Rosenheim there (he had been at Denali in Alaska at the same time as us).
Wednesday, August 9, 2000: Dom, descent to Randa
This time there's even less space in Domhütte. Our three places include one (No. 13) which could hardly accomodate half a person for sleeping. We feel correspondingly well in the morning.
I don't feel good at all and leave the Dom to Claudia and Helmut, while I return to the hut for an extended break. Meanwhile the others proceed quickly at Festigrat, where they encounter ideal snow conditions. They reach the summit after five hours, and they are back at the hut after eight hours in total.
On the summit of Dom On the summit of Dom
On the summit of Dom (4545 m)
There is not much left for us to do here at the moment. The ascent to Hohberghorn and Stecknadelhorn is too snowy to get up and down safely (at noon, it gets very hot and the snow becomes wet). So we go down to the valley again and stay overnight at the campground between Randa and Täsch. The site is highly recommended (about SFr. 10 per person).

Practical hints

Domhütte / Dom hut (2940 m)
Tel. +41-27-9672634
From Randa about 4 hours.
Laura runs her hut well. Considering that they provide about 5000 overnight stays in a rather short season, everything goes pretty smoothly at the Domhütte. Naturally, the guests must be flexible and shouldn't insist on getting a beer at exactly the same moment that dinner is being served.
One can also hardly hide that it is sometimes very crowded, and the Eschenmoser-style building contains some sleeping places where no human being with normal dimensions could reasonably endure a night - as place number 13.
AD, rock II, at the summit ridge II-III
From Domhütte about 5-7 hours.
Up to 3400 m the route is identical with the Dom route: The glacier is reached at about 3200 m, then it goes up a short steep section (hard ice) to gain a plateau, about 3400 m. There the route turns right, takes a step and later a steep slope to reach Festi-Kin-Lücke.
There, one looks around searching for the continuation of the route. But there's no obvious way down the other side. One first has to ascend about hundred height(!) meters on the ridge towards Dom, and from there one can more or less go down to Kingletscher. The phrase "a kind of band" in the German language SAC guidebook must obviously be taken loosely. The terrain involved unpleasant scree acrobatics with serious exposure and - of course - without any reasonable chances for belay.
The rest up to Teufelsgrat ("Devil's ridge") is a relatively easy glacier walk (up to 45°). At the top one avoids a prominent rock step by skirting it on the left. From there come almost back around to the ridge but instead you traverse to the left in order to then finally reach the ridge. The ridge is extraordinarily exposed on the other side, and on the first point mentioned above one stands on an overhanging slab where it's hard to find a way further up.
Dom via Festigrat
PD, Rock I at Festijoch, the rest is snow/ice.
From Domhütte 5-6 hours.
With good snow conditions, and especially with (settled) fresh snow the Festigrat is about an hour shorter than the normal route. From the hut, in about 2 1/2 hours the Festijoch is reached, where since recently there are even fixed ropes. From the saddle, the route simply follows the ridge up to Dom. Unlike the normal route, on Festigrat a major failure in climbing with crampons whould result in a serious fall, many accidents are reported from here.
The normal route makes a large turn through the glacier basin almost to Lenzjoch. It is safer but usually also more exhausting and therefore is preferentially used on the descent.
Our times

07.08. 12:40 Randa 1407 km 0.00
14:45 15:05 Europahütte 2220 m km 3.60
16:55 Domhütte SAC 2940 m km 6.40

08.08. 04:00 Domhütte SAC 2940 km 0.00
04:40 04:50 at the glacier 3200 m km 1.50
06:40 06:50 Festi-Kin-Lücke 3734 m km 3.30
07:40 07:50 Kingletscher 3730 m km 3.80
08:30 08:35 P.3812 3812 m km 4.50
11:00 11:05 Täschhorn ^ 4491 m km 5.50
11:50 12:20 P.3812 3812 m km 6.50
12:35 12:40 Kingletscher 3730 m km 7.20
14:00 14:05 Festi-Kin-Lücke 3734 m km 7.70
15:00 at the glacier 3200 m km 9.50
15:20 Domhütte SAC 2940 m km 11.00

09.08. 04:05 Domhütte SAC 2940 km 0.00
06:30 06:40 Festijoch 3723 m km 3.30
09:15 Dom ^ 4545 m km 5.10
10:30 Festijoch 3723 m km 6.90
12:05 12:55 Domhütte 2940 m km 10.20
15:05 Randa 1407 m km 16.40
Maps and guides
Guidebooks (in German): Maps:
Thanks to Tom Lambert for the stylistic corrections he gave me.
© 2000 Hartmut Bielefeldt

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Last updated January 03, 2001 by Hartmut Bielefeldt