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Saas Grund, Switzerland

Date: 11 to 18 Sept 08
Submitted by: Keith Monaghan

Saas Fee 11 to 18 Sept 2008

At 2am 4 hard souls set off from Fermanagh for Dublin airport and a 1hr 50min flight to Basel in north Switzerland with the intention driving like hell and catching the last telecabin to the Honsaas hut above Saas Grund. The plan was to spend the 1st night at 3200m and attempt the Weissmies hill the next am.

Perfect planning was of course destroyed by Ryanair with a 2 hr wait in the plane on the tarmac in Dublin Airport followed by a closed road at the aptly named Furkapass.

However ,on arrival in Saas Grund , a pleasant evening was spent in a local hostillery having discussed the superb weather forecast with the campsite owner.

The next day in glorious weather we climbed to the afore mentioned hut only to discover a member of party had forgotten a very important piece of kit so her caring husband ( me) duly returned to the valley to collect same.

The Hohsaas hut is like nothing ever experienced in the Alps. Having spent sleepless nights in the Sele hut , Albert Premier hut and the 5 star Goutier Plaza I was prepared for the worst. This proved totally the oposite. Hohsaas is basically a top grade ski restaurant with, 6 bed bedrooms downstairs including toilets and shower rooms the Hilton would be proud of. A 4 course meal followed with coffee and cheese board and a help yourself larger tap with as much tart as you can eat were readily available. Prices were very reasonable but at dinner we only had a total of 6 residents for the night which should have started alarm bells ringing. Prior to bed the staff turned on the 50in flat screen TV to disclose that a storm was about to hit. (camp site manager must have missed that one)

It took about 5 sec to cancel the Alpine start and make best use of the Larger tap. After a sound nights sleep and large breakfast we were directed outside into 3 ft of fresh snow and descended to the valley in ever increasing precipitation. The camp site owner ( bottle of beer in hand) welcomed 4 drowned rats and disclosed that he had no means of drying our kit so we headed for the Dom hotel and a warm shower.

Next day we climbed to the Plattjen telecabin restaurant and watched the F1 GP which was even wetter than us.

The following morning with the promise of clear skies Sandra and I set off at 7am via the cable car and a climb to the top of Allalinhorn. There were only 7 others on the hill and the deep snow and the strong freezing wind was knackering. However the summit (our 1st 4000er) gave superb views from the Jungfrau and Zermatt to Italy and Mont Blanc.

An easier day was spent by all four of us on the superb NW ridge of the Mittaghorn which has an enjoyable via feratta, leading to 3100 summit and having caught the “iron road” bug Sandra and I spent our last day climbing the highest via ferreta in Switzerland on a more difficult snow bound 5 hr route to the summit of Jegihorn 3250m.

Great time and will be back but don’t ever trust a campsite owner who is drinking beer for breakfast.

On a more bizarre note I had a conversation in Saas Fee with an man who reported to be an expert in Ulster Scots. He disclosed that a hoover was really called a “flour sucker“, a sports gym was called a “buck leppin hall” and children with educational difficulties were called “wee dafties.” Priceless!

Photo of Route
Sandra on Jegihorn via Feretta