Brittania hut - a depressing outlook

Date walked: 20/08/2018

Time taken: 7 hours

The 3027m Brittania hut was paid for by the (British) Alpine Club in 1912 as our contribution to alpine climbing in Switzerland.
Brittania hut in winter
As I was based in the Mattertal in the early 2000's , I did most of the big peaks that are normally climbed from here - Strahlhorn, Rimpfischhorn, Alphubel - from the other side. and therefore never visited it, but if you stay in Saas Fee or Saas Grund, your hotel costs now include free use of all the lifts and buses, so this Summer I thought we would take the Plattjen lift from Saas Fee, traverse under the Mittaghorn and Egginer, climb to the hut, traverse back to Felskinn, and descend by the Alpine express. Unfortunately the Plattjen was closed for repairs, so we reversed the plan and eventually walked down the path under it.
It's becoming more difficult now to copy "unadulterated" maps from SAC sites :( so this one shows the official route. On the original map you contoured round across the glacier at around the same height, but now you have to descend over 200m and cross a dessert of stone. I had expected a change, but nothing prepared me for the total destruction of the landscape. I found it immensely depressing - all that was missing was a huge McAlpines sign.
Here are the photos - judge for yourselves.
Looking back to Felskinn from the Egginerjoch - the track follows a horizontal "road across the rapidly disappearing glacier: behind are the Alphubel and theTaschorn
Near the Egginerjoch
Ditto - looking South to the Stellihorn
Looking across the original route to the hut: no-one in their right mind would head across here now - even without the constant barrage of stonefall that was clattering down all morning

Heading off down the track which forks a little way down: R is to the 2863m low point and the Brittania, while the L branch descends and curls round under the Egginer and Mittaghorn to the top of the Plattjen
Glaciated slabs on the route
Looking back to the Egginerjoch across the "old" route
The Egginer - only 3367m but quite a shapely peak
Climbing back up to the hut: finally a bit of dry glacier - but the water was pouring off it in torrents: will it be there next year?
From the hut : the Strahlhorn in cloud on the L, the Rimpfischhorn centre and the Holaubgrat leading to the Allalinhorn on the R. In the foreground is the snout of Allalin glacier. It's hard to visualise that this was the glacier that menaced the constructors of the Mattmark dam - ca. 600m lower - only 50 years ago. On 30th August 1965 two million cubic metres of ice broke away and devastated the construction site killing 88 sleeping workers :( :(
View from the dam today - the bare slabs show where the glacier once ran - you can just see the snout of what is left of it at the very top
Another view of the Egginer across the "wasteland"
I didn't bother taking any photos on the return. The path seems to traverse thru endless boulder fields though at least there was a bit of greenery. I'm afraid I won't be back.
The Alps have changed quite dramatically in the 20 years or so that I have been going . In another 20 years I'm afraid most of them will probably look much like the photos in this post :( :( :(

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Comments: 2

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past my sell by date

Activity: Mountaineer
Mountain: Weisshorn
Place: Torridon
Member: FRCC, AC, John Muir Trust
Camera: Lumix G6
Ideal day out: remote mountain where i'm unlikely to meet many people

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