3 4000m peaks in 4 days

"Alois" on the Dent Blanche

When my mountain guide picks me up, I am already a little excited. I am to accompany him for four days to the Valais, where, according to reports, there are quite high mountains, higher than here in the Bernese Alps! Will I be able to meet his expectations? There is still a surprising amount of snow and that would be my territory!

I am fastened upside down to his rucksack. Not the most pleasant way to travel. On the other hand, it's quite funny when the mountains hang down from the sky.

"White Tooth" is the name of our destination. Better known by its French name "Dent Blanche". Speaking of names: My mountain guide has decided to call me "Alois". He thinks "Jubilee Ice Axe" sounds a bit brittle. I like that. After all, people all have names.

After just under five hours we reach the hut. The landscape is very beautiful. I'm already looking forward to seeing the high Valais mountains up close.

In the hut I witness an interesting conversation. There is supposed to be breakfast at 4:30. Too late for such a tour, according to my mountain guide and two other of his professional colleagues. After an apparently interesting discussion in a language I don't understand, breakfast is brought forward to 3:30!

The three guide teams start almost simultaneously and climb rapidly higher in the light of the headlamps. Soon my distant relatives, the crampons, come into play and whoops, now it's serious for me too. Whenever the snow slope becomes steeper, I make steps in the snow. I love that! My mountain guide calls it scribing.

Then, when he's climbing on the rock, I'm put between his back and his rucksack. It's quite a comfortable position for me, because for once I don't see the surroundings upside down.

After less than four hours we are already standing on the summit, enjoying the view and taking photos!

The descent is quick and soon we are back at the big gendarme, where my mountain guide ropes down his guest. Then it happens: my guide bends down a bit too much, I lose my footing, slip out from behind his rucksack and fall into the depths. Desperately I try to hold on to the snow. Wham! After more than thirty metres, I manage to grab hold of the steep couloir with my pick at the last moment. Carefully, so as not to give me the coup de grace by falling pieces of ice, my boss ropes his guest down to me. With a sure hand he rescues me from my unpleasant situation and brings me back to my mountain guide.

After this incident I'm exhausted and happy to be back in the hut soon and to be carried back down to the valley headfirst, but safely.

«Alois» on the Nadelhorn

After a night in the tent - also something new for me - my mountain guide meets his next guest. The woman is not yet twenty years old and wants to climb her first four-thousand-metre peak. Will it go well?

I find the climb to the Mischabel Hut exciting, but I can't make myself useful. It's all over hill and dale, no snow or ice.

I get to experience a special surprise at the Mischabel Hut: The mountain guide aperitif. It's a pity I can't tolerate human food!

The next morning I am soon in my element. The route leads mostly over snow and ice. Every now and then I can hack a few steps into the snow or at least improve existing ones. My comrades in the other rope teams seem to be a bit work-shy. They are partially trapped on their backpacks or at best serve as a support when climbing.

Soon we are standing on the summit of the Nadelhorn at 4327 metres above sea level. Our guest lives exactly 4000 metres below!

The descent goes smoothly. While I rest in the hut, my mountain guide accompanies his guest down the upper, difficult part of the hut trail. Then the guest for tomorrow's tour appears. Exhausting times!

«Alois» on the Lenzspitze & Nadelhorn

Before dinner there is another aperitif. This time with many mountain guides, who all look at me appreciatively! Some even claim that they have siblings of mine at home! So why don't they take them with them!

The tour over the east ridge to the Lenzspitze is wonderful and I can be of service to my mountain guide from time to time.

From the Lenzspitze over to the Nadelhorn he stows me away behind his back again. Better that way, because there is only bomb-proof rock. I can't do anything about that.

I know the descent from the Nadelhorn from yesterday! Only the pace is slightly different. We descend the thousand metres from the summit to the hut in ninety minutes. The old men are crazy! Together they are over 130 years old!