Gavin Mooney and Gareth Blakesley, alpine climbing at the Monchsjoch • June 21-22, 2011

Gavin Mooney and Gareth Blakesley, UK natives living in Australia and the U.S., got together for a European vacation and spent a couple of days of it with Kathy in the Jungfrau region learning some mountaineering skills and climbing to the summit of their first alpine peak.

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Gareth and Gavin navigating steep and deep snow on the Walcherhorn.


Gareth below the south face of the Mönch.


A climbing trip in this area often begins with a ride up the world-famous Jungfraujoch train. Gavin takes in the view at the Eismeer station.


After dropping our gear at the Mönchsjoch hut (seen here), we headed over to the Walcherhorn, in soft and deep snow. Snowshoes made it possible, but the conditions were still wallow-y!


Gavin surmounts a steep step at the top of a snow gully.


The slopes leading up to the summit were painfully soft! Each step required a deal of work and preparation to avoid sinking in mid-thigh. However, all things come to an end, and near the top we finally found snow that held body weight for everyone. Lovely views of the Trugberg and Mönchsjoch behind.


Gavin enjoys a break on the top.


As does Gareth.


Back down and on the trail home, we pause to see where we just were.


And then it's a long walk back to the hut for dinner.


The roomy and comfortable dining room of the Mönchsjoch hut is a cozy place for a good meal. Gavin is still waking up for his breakfast!


This day was quite stormy. We took our time over breakfast, and waited for a lull in the weather to go outside and practice some "slidey skills"; self arrest, and butt-sliding (AKA glissade) on nearby slopes.


Once we were good and soaked, we came back inside for practice with knots and clever rope tricks, AKA crevasse rescue practice. Finally, we finished up with a bit more strenuous exercise, ascending ropes hung from the balcony of the hut, that being more accessible and a lot less risky and uncomfortable than finding a crevasse to lower into. Gareth gets into a rhythm here while Gavin waits for the shot.


A group of trekkers who've just finished lunch at the hut and are heading back to the train, seem a bit mystified and definitely amused...


All too soon it's time to head down in the wind. By the time we got to town the sun was shining in the lowlands.