walkhighlands

This board helps you to share your walking route experiences in England and Wales... or overseas.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Dom: Short name, Big mountain


Postby Pointless Parasite » Thu Sep 02, 2021 8:37 pm

Date walked: 24/08/2021

Ascent: 3139m

7 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Oh god where's he been now? No wait come back, this one's good! Dom is a huge mountain in Switzerland, in between Saas Fee and Zermatt. At 4545 m it is the highest mountain entirely in Switzerland (there are a few higher peaks but they're along the border with Italy) but it's not especially hard to climb. Guidebooks tend to rate this as PD- or PD with a short section of scrambling on the Festigrat. The biggest challenge climbing Dom is the lack of any ski lifts, cable cars, trains or buses, meaning you need to climb the entire thing from the valley below, starting at Randa (1406 m).

Dom, seen from the North (Wikipedia):

Image

Dom from the Nadelgrat (Wikipedia):

Image

The normal route zig-zags up the big blank snow face, approaching the summit from the right. Note the avalanche debris at the foot of the face.

First, you need to climb up to the Dom hut at 2940 m for an overnight stay. This starts off as a simple hike, but gets steeper and more technical, with an extended section of scrambling and via ferrata:

Dom1.jpg


Dom2.jpg


Dom3.jpg


Dom4.jpg


I reached the Dom hut at about 4.30 pm, 3 hours after setting off from Randa. I'd arranged to meet my guide, Englebert, at 6.00 pm, but my dinner time at 6.30 he'd still not turned up. When he did arrive it became clear there would not be much conversation. Despite the German sounding name he was Italian and spoke fairly limited English (compared to my completely non-existent Italian). His only description of the route was "we go slow". Not the best start, but I thought I would reserve judgement until the climbing :lol:

Dom5.jpg


I set my alarm for 2.30 am and was up for breakfast at 3 am, enabling us to start out up the mountain at 3.30 am. Obviously it was pitch black, so the following photos were taken on the way down. The route starts with a hike up glacial moraine, before walking up the Festigletscher (glacier).

Dom6.jpg


Dom7.jpg


Then a section of easy rock climbing leads up to the Festijoch ridge:

Dom8.jpg


Once at the crest of the ridge, it's snow all the way. Unfortunately this starts with an annoying downclimb which was bad enough on the way up, but horribly tiring on the return journey.

Dom9.jpg


By now, the sun had come out and it was clear we were in for a fantastic day.

Dom10.jpg


The route zig-zags its way up the enormous North flank of Dom without much difficulty. Around half way up we left our poles and continued with ice axes only. There was one slightly awkward step that involved an icy ledge no wider than one boot width.

Dom11.jpg


Around this point I realised I was having trouble speaking. I seemed to be slurring my words and was worried I might be suffering from the effects of altitude, or even worse, having a stroke. But then I realised my face was so cold my lips had gone numb. No wonder I couldn't speak properly! Once we were out of the shade my face warmed up and the problem went away :roll:

Dom12.jpg


The final section of the climb was a steep snow ridge, perhaps around 45 degrees. Not difficult or exposed but very tiring. Finally, we reached the summit at about 8.45 am.

Dom13.jpg


Unusually, the summit is marked by a crucifix, rather than a plain cross:

Dom14.jpg


Englebert (L) and me (R)

Dom15.jpg


Weisshorn (L) and Bishorn (R)

Dom16.jpg


Zermatt valley:

Dom17.jpg


Castor (L) and Pollux (R)

Dom18.jpg


Monte Rosa:

Dom19.jpg


In the above photo, the Margherita hut can be seen on the summit of the Signalkuppe on the left side of the massif. This is the highest building in Europe (4554 m, higher than Dom)

Summit cornices:

Dom20.jpg


We stayed on the summit for about 10 minutes, then started to descend. Despite my initial reservations, I'd really warmed to Engelbert. I found him to be an exceptionally patient and reassuring guide who always seemed to make the right call.

Some weird looking crevasses:

Dom21.jpg


Looking back up towards the summit:

Dom22.jpg


A climber on the Nadelgrat:

Dom23.jpg


More weird crevasse formations:

Dom24.jpg


The downclimb from the Festijoch was the last technical challenge of the day. Again, Engelbert was superb and very reassuring. He offered to let me abseil down but I prefered to downclimb it and managed to get all the way down without incident 8). Readers of my other reports will not be surprised to hear I had problems with my crampons coming off. This has been a persisent problem over the years :roll: I thought I'd fixed it by shortening the bars, but the left crampon came loose three times. I give up. The next time I buy new crampons I'm going to get the normal C1 type without the lever at the back.

Almost back at the hut:

Dom25.jpg


We made it back by about 12.30, so a 9 hour round trip from the hut. Some people stay another night but I really wanted a nice comfortable bed and a shower, so I rested for half an hour and descended alone back to Randa. I think it took me about 2 hours to get to the train station. Rather than going straight back to Geneva, I took the train to Zermatt and stayed one night there. I felt I'd earned a night in a luxury hotel and even got a room upgrade 8)

Dinner was at McDonald's though :(
User avatar
Pointless Parasite
Stravaiging
 
Posts: 281
Munros:83   Corbetts:5
Grahams:5   Donalds:17
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:114
Wainwrights:214   Islands:2
Joined: Apr 9, 2017
Location: Geneva

Re: Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Sep 02, 2021 9:21 pm

Fabulous, even experienced vicariously.

Definitely carpe diem. I just wish I'd realised how fine mountaineering is in these places many decades earlier!! One never knows what might arise that could derail the best laid plans of mice and men.
User avatar
Alteknacker
Scrambler
 
Posts: 3316
Munros:176   Corbetts:32
Grahams:1   
Hewitts:254
Wainwrights:109   
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

Re: Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Postby past my sell by date » Fri Sep 03, 2021 1:26 pm

Great :clap: :clap: :clap: - I see you're now getting hooked on the bigger hills :D . I've had lots of crampons but have found Grivel MUCH the best. They have just one strap, are very easy to put on and I've never had a problem with one coming loose. I've got a very good slightly used pair you could buy, but unfortunately they are stuck in a Yellow box store at the moment and I wouldn't be able to get them out :( . i'll send you a message if that changes
I would also recommend you try to use the same guide every time. They are very good at sussing out your ability and once they have some confidence in you it all works much more smoothly, and they'll be happy to take you up more difficult routes.
past my sell by date
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 886
Munros:282   Corbetts:85
Grahams:27   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:145
Wainwrights:159   
Joined: Apr 24, 2013

Re: Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Sep 03, 2021 2:58 pm

An amazing adventure!

Still never really been to the Alps proper.
User avatar
Mal Grey
Wanderer
 
Posts: 3888
Munros:112   Corbetts:20
Grahams:9   
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:113
Wainwrights:71   Islands:5
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Postby Pointless Parasite » Sun Sep 05, 2021 5:10 pm

past my sell by date wrote:Great :clap: :clap: :clap: - I see you're now getting hooked on the bigger hills :D . I've had lots of crampons but have found Grivel MUCH the best. They have just one strap, are very easy to put on and I've never had a problem with one coming loose. I've got a very good slightly used pair you could buy, but unfortunately they are stuck in a Yellow box store at the moment and I wouldn't be able to get them out :( . i'll send you a message if that changes
I would also recommend you try to use the same guide every time. They are very good at sussing out your ability and once they have some confidence in you it all works much more smoothly, and they'll be happy to take you up more difficult routes.


Thanks! Actually my crampons are Grivel. I'm not sure what type, maybe Air Tech with the 'new matic' fitting. I really don't get it. I honestly thought I'd solved the problem when I shortened the bar, but no :(. And it's happened with two sets of boots as well.
User avatar
Pointless Parasite
Stravaiging
 
Posts: 281
Munros:83   Corbetts:5
Grahams:5   Donalds:17
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:114
Wainwrights:214   Islands:2
Joined: Apr 9, 2017
Location: Geneva

Re: Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Postby Pointless Parasite » Sun Sep 05, 2021 5:12 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Fabulous, even experienced vicariously.

Definitely carpe diem. I just wish I'd realised how fine mountaineering is in these places many decades earlier!! One never knows what might arise that could derail the best laid plans of mice and men.


I think a lot of people don't even start with the Alps until they're advanced in years, including a few members of this forum. Judging from your walk reports you'd be more than capable of climbing these mountains :clap:
User avatar
Pointless Parasite
Stravaiging
 
Posts: 281
Munros:83   Corbetts:5
Grahams:5   Donalds:17
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:114
Wainwrights:214   Islands:2
Joined: Apr 9, 2017
Location: Geneva

Re: Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Postby gaffr » Mon Sep 06, 2021 8:16 am

Hello, Good effort. Never got to the Dom...nearest summit reached to it was the Nadelhorn. :)
Now I recall that you were the gentleman that lost one of his crampons on Beinn na Lap many years back. Crampons seem to be a perennial problem. :) Hope that can get a pair that will stay on all day...especially so for use in the Alps.
User avatar
gaffr
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 2046
Munros:281   Corbetts:203
Grahams:33   Donalds:14
Sub 2000:11   Hewitts:25
Wainwrights:11   Islands:17
Joined: Oct 25, 2009
Location: Highland.

Re: Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Postby past my sell by date » Mon Sep 06, 2021 2:48 pm

Pointless Parasite wrote:Thanks! Actually my crampons are Grivel. I'm not sure what type, maybe Air Tech with the 'new matic' fitting. I really don't get it. I honestly thought I'd solved the problem when I shortened the bar, but no :(. And it's happened with two sets of boots as well.

Sounds to me like a boot problem - not stiff enough. You do need a B2 grade boot for crampons. The things one uses for charging round the Munros in Summer are not suitable. And of course you need to fit them accurately. Pity your guide didn't speak more English: he could probably have helped
past my sell by date
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 886
Munros:282   Corbetts:85
Grahams:27   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:145
Wainwrights:159   
Joined: Apr 24, 2013

Re: Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:48 pm

Great photos! - brought back some good memories. The Dom is a monster mountain - a great achievement.

The thread mentions visiting the Alps. Speaking as a walker who’s done only a smidgin of scrambling and easy ice routes, I would highly recommend the Saas Fee valley, on the other side of the Dom, as a place with very approachable hills. We didn’t use a guide, but easily managed some of the 4000ers there. The ratio of scenery-to-effort was very high indeed!

Tim
User avatar
HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1806
Munros:106   Corbetts:13
Grahams:2   Donalds:2
Hewitts:148
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

Re: Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Postby dav2930 » Sat Sep 18, 2021 2:43 pm

Looked a fantastic experience on one of the great Alpine peaks - good effort! :clap: 8) Great that you got such clear atmospheric conditions, as shown in your fine photos. Engelbert looks a surly fellow in the summit pic, doesn't he? Surprised he didn't check your boots & crampons before you set off. C2 crampons with B2 boots should be rock-solid and problem-free; there's something badly wrong if they come off! :?
User avatar
dav2930
Ambler
 
Posts: 1487
Munros:241   Corbetts:13
Grahams:16   Donalds:45
Sub 2000:1   Hewitts:163
Wainwrights:214   Islands:2
Joined: Feb 13, 2015
Location: Cumbria

Re: Dom: Short name, Big mountain

Postby Pointless Parasite » Sat Sep 18, 2021 5:26 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:Great photos! - brought back some good memories. The Dom is a monster mountain - a great achievement.

The thread mentions visiting the Alps. Speaking as a walker who’s done only a smidgin of scrambling and easy ice routes, I would highly recommend the Saas Fee valley, on the other side of the Dom, as a place with very approachable hills. We didn’t use a guide, but easily managed some of the 4000ers there. The ratio of scenery-to-effort was very high indeed!

Tim


Thanks, yes Saas Fee is probably my favorite area in Switzerland. Past my sell by date is a big fan as well.

dav2930 wrote:Looked a fantastic experience on one of the great Alpine peaks - good effort! :clap: 8) Great that you got such clear atmospheric conditions, as shown in your fine photos. Engelbert looks a surly fellow in the summit pic, doesn't he? Surprised he didn't check your boots & crampons before you set off. C2 crampons with B2 boots should be rock-solid and problem-free; there's something badly wrong if they come off!


past my sell by date wrote:Sounds to me like a boot problem - not stiff enough. You do need a B2 grade boot for crampons. The things one uses for charging round the Munros in Summer are not suitable. And of course you need to fit them accurately. Pity your guide didn't speak more English: he could probably have helped


I've got Scarpa manta pros, which are among the best B2 boots out there and the crampons are Grivel C2. Both are pretty old though. To nearly quote Ian Dury, I need new boots and crampons. My guide did check and spent ages trying to improve the fit. I had a nice day today on Les Diablerets without any problems though 8).
User avatar
Pointless Parasite
Stravaiging
 
Posts: 281
Munros:83   Corbetts:5
Grahams:5   Donalds:17
Sub 2000:8   Hewitts:114
Wainwrights:214   Islands:2
Joined: Apr 9, 2017
Location: Geneva

7 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).




Walkhighlands community forum is advert free


Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Outside Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 18 guests