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Saas Grund- the Mattmark and the Ofental

Saas Grund- the Mattmark and the Ofental


Postby past my sell by date » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:40 pm

Date walked: 15/08/2017

Time taken: 7

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The Saas valley is an excellent place to acclimatise for bigger things: apart from the significant number of walking peaks above 3000m, you can drive or use the regular bus service to the 2200m Mattmark Stausee at the head of the valley and follow various routes to the italian border - or just take the 2--3 hour circuit around it. I have visited this area almost every year since 2001 and photos are from different occasions
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Map of the Mattmark and Ofenta : there are names in German and Italian - sometimes both
Furthest South, the Monte Moro pass (lifts up from Macugnaga on the Italian side) is the route taken by the Circuit of Monte Rosa walk, while further left are the Mondelli Pass, and at the head of the Ofental, the Ofental pass, the Jazzilücke and the Antrona pass at the head of the Furggtal.
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From the dam the parallel lateral moraines left by the retreating Allalin glacier are striking - it's difficult to comprehend that in the "middle ages" the snout of glacier regularly extended across the main valley (blocking it) and as recently as 1965 collapsed here killing eighty eight construction workers in their sleeping quarters :(
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Going clockwise, a view taken a bit further round - the current front of the rapidly retreating glacier can be seen at the top
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Two views looking back from near the head of the Stausee. In 2018 there was so much winter snow that the water appears turqoise and the level is quite high :) . in other years the water has been much lower and a muddy grey in colour :(
About halfway down the Eastern side a diagonal path leads up to the Ofental - a wide easy-angled hanging valley.
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Looking across the Stausee from the path: The Rimpfischhorn and Strahlhorn
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A wider view from a bit higher
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Entering the valley : I've always want to climb these hills - The Galmenhorn and Spechhorn - but never managed it yet :(
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Looking up the almost flat valley. At one point the path branches and you can head Right across the stream and contour South to join the Monte Moro path. However I tried it once and found the Stafelbach an uncrossable roaring torrent so I had to come all the way back :(
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Eriophorum angustifolium - Common Cottongrass
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Campanula excisa - Incised Bellflower is very common in the Saas valley but occurs almost nowhere else
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The Stellihorn
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Zoomed
The first time I came up the Ofental in 2003 (trying to get fit) I felt I needed something a bit steeper and seeing the 3436m Stellihorn to my Left headed straight up :shock: - I must have been bonkers :lol: :lol: I climbed directly to the obvious red rock, contoured Right beneath it and then on up some pleasant overlapping slabs to the top. At one point I could see the horns of a sunbathing Ibex sticking out above me. I thought it might panic if I came upon it suddenly so I shouted and off it went :lol:
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Summit cairn
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View West to the Strahlhorn, Rimpfischhorn, Allalinhorn, Alphubel and the Mischabel: Notice that the snout of the Allalin glacier (far L) is way lower than in 2018
I descended quite a bit further left, but about 50 m from the path in the valley I stepped awkwardly on a loose stone, turned my ankle over and was hors de combat for a few days :( accidents happen when you least expect them :lol:
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Looking on up to the 2833m Ofental pass
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Pedicularis kerneri - Kerners Lousewort
Further up the path divides and you can head L to the 3080m Jazzilücke, follow the frontier round to the 2837m Antrona pass and descend the Furggtal to Saas Almagel - a popular circuit.
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You traverse on the Italian side by an easy but exposed ledge below the steep face of the Jazzihorn. There was a wire for protection - but almost all the bolts securing it to the mountain had fallen out :shock: Only in Italy :lol: :lol: :lol:
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From the Jazzilücke - looking down to the Lago de Cingino
Continuing up towards the Ofental pass, the grass gradually thins out and leads to a wilderness of scree, rocks and snow patches
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The last of "green" slopes
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a wider view
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Looking back
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Veronica bellidoides - Daisy-leaved Speedwell
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The 3050m Ofentalhorn - some grade II climbing is needed to get to the top
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difficult to find a path here but there are occasional cairns
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looking N to the Stellihorn and Jazzihorn: the Jazzilücke is the notch R of centre: the peak in front is the 3103m Pizzo Cingino sud
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Another view S to the Ofentalhorn. On an earlier occasion I climbed up to the start of the difficulties and returned to the valley down these snow slopes
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NW down the valley to the Alphubel. Taschhorn, Dom and Lenspitze
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The ridge leading towards the Ofentalhorn - the top of the near "lump" was as far as I got in 2017
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On the "lump" - Italy on the L
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A wider view down the valley into Italy
On the way up, the stunning flowers on the diagonal path below the valley were all in shadow, but I got some photos on the descent - though the strong breeze didn't help :lol:
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Chrisanthemium alpinum - Alpine Marguerite
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Rhodeola rosa - Roseroot
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Centaurea alpestris - Alpine Knapweed
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Silene rupestris - Rock Campion
As you return across the dam there are a series of stone "plaques" telling the history of the Saas valley from early times (when the Monte Moro was a N/S trade route) right up until the present. They are set as a rough calendar (so that the first ones are hundreds of metres apart while the latest only several metres)
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An evening view of the old moraines
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A last look up the Stausee - a couple of the white plaques can be seen in the front
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Re: Saas Grund- the Mattmark and the Ofental

Postby Pointless Parasite » Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:51 pm

Looks fantastic, thanks for sharing. I've been meaning to visit Saas Fee rather than the usual Zermatt or Grindlewald for my annual Alps trip, but have been put off by the apparent lack of hiking peaks. The Stellihorn looks good though. What about the Almagellhorn?
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Re: Saas Grund- the Mattmark and the Ofental

Postby past my sell by date » Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:05 pm

Pointless Parasite wrote:Looks fantastic, thanks for sharing. I've been meaning to visit Saas Fee rather than the usual Zermatt or Grindlewald for my annual Alps trip, but have been put off by the apparent lack of hiking peaks. The Stellihorn looks good though. What about the Almagellhorn?

Hi PP
I would say there were more walking peaks in the Saas valley than almost anywhere else.
Jegihorn, Joderhorn beside Monte Moro, Mittelruck, and Sonighorn (from Almageler hut) come to mind - Mitaghorn from Saas Fee lifts ,and as long as you have crampons the Lagginhorn is very easy - no crevasses.
Again there are the two peaks I mentioned S of the Ofental which you can also approach from the Mondelli side. From Mondelli you can also traverse the Joderhorn by a very easy scramble. There is a walking route up the Almagellerhorn - but you need a guidebook to find it.
Don't know if you generally camp but if you want somewhere to stay, Robi's restraurant is cheap(ish) friendly, English speaking and the food is A1. Hotel prices include free use of all lifts and buses in the summer - quite useful for an active person
Last edited by past my sell by date on Sun Feb 17, 2019 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
past my sell by date
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Re: Saas Grund- the Mattmark and the Ofental

Postby Pointless Parasite » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:25 pm

Thanks, you've convinced me! Have you climbed the Lagginhorn? That was another peak I had in mind to add to my 4000er list. Weissmies is another possibility, also Allalinhorn or Alphubel, though I would need to hire a guide for anything with glacier travel.
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Re: Saas Grund- the Mattmark and the Ofental

Postby past my sell by date » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:58 pm

Pointless Parasite wrote:Thanks, you've convinced me! Have you climbed the Lagginhorn? That was another peak I had in mind to add to my 4000er list. Weissmies is another possibility, also Allalinhorn or Alphubel, though I would need to hire a guide for anything with glacier travel.

Yes I've done all Swiss 4000nders - The Lagginhorn twice - the South ridge with a guide and the Ordinary route with friends - we only roped up for a brief section on the way down
All the ones you mention are very easy, and very low risk - but you would need a guide - or a companion for all except the Lagginhorn. If you get an early metro train you should be able to do Allalinhorn and Alpubel in one outing I think. The Weissmeis is nicest from the Almageller hut - but you could traverse it to Haut Saas and descen the lift home from there
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Re: Saas Grund- the Mattmark and the Ofental

Postby Pointless Parasite » Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:00 am

Great, thanks for the info :D
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Re: Saas Grund- the Mattmark and the Ofental

Postby dav2930 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:16 pm

Looks a lovely area with some great walking, Tony. Informative report with some very nice photos, as ever. Can't believe there's a peak called the 'Jazzihorn'! :lol:
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Re: Saas Grund- the Mattmark and the Ofental

Postby past my sell by date » Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:05 pm

dav2930 wrote:Looks a lovely area with some great walking, Tony. Informative report with some very nice photos, as ever. Can't believe there's a peak called the 'Jazzihorn'! :lol:


I'ts quite a common name in the area - there's a Cima di Jazzi on the Weissgrat - North of Monte Rosa . I assume it's pronounced Jatzi but I don't really know :lol:
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