Zinalrothorn, 4221m. Traverse of SE Ridge, descending N Ridge.

Le Mammouth

A justifiably popular traverse of a beautiful mountain, on very good rock.

Alpine Climbing Difficult

Distance
6.3 km
Ascent
984 m
Descent
1.3 km
Low Point
2.9 km
High Point
4.2 km
Gradient
26˚
Zinalrothorn, 4221m. Traverse of  SE Ridge, descending N Ridge. Map

From the Rothorn Hut head NW up the Rothorn Glacier, keeping close to a rocky buttress on your L. Look for the weakness that leads through this at about 3480m, heading back L above here and skirting under spot height 3785m to its L. You are aiming to reach the easy snow crest N of pt 3785m, following it over pt 3910m, then continuing up as it becomes rocky, until you meet a short steepening. At this point take a long traverse to the L, on rocky shelves and ledges, aiming for the rocky chimney below the obvious skyline notch, known as the Gabel. Climb this on good rock, alternately in the chimney, on its rib to the L and then back into the chimney. Once at the ridge you climb it, being forced L when it steepens, then back R, taking the line of least resistance, on delicate slabby rocks. Move L round a tower, to another tower, which you pass to its R, followed by easier ground over two bumps in the ridge to the easy summit rocks.

Description

The N Ridge is a great climb in its own right and makes for a fantastic descent, again on good rock, but usually snowier than your ascent, due to its aspect. Initially it is easy mixed ground, descending and over, or round, a couple of small rocky rises before the first significant obstacle called the Bosse. This is usually descended by a couple of rappels, followed by a sharp crest called la Bourrique. After this a large tower lies ahead, known as the Sphinx, which you traverse on its L, with bolts that can be used as runners. The next section is the famous Rasoir pitch, which is a very exposed and photogenic spike of rock, which you climb directly over. Beyond this the final significant tower, called the Dejeuner, is avoided on its R, hence reaching easier ridge on the shoulder at just over 4000m. From here follow the shoulder and its ridge below, heading W, to about 3725m. Here leave the crest to its L, following tracks down on the glacier, under the ridge above. You leave the glacier about 3320m and follow the good path to the Mountet Hut. If you are very determined you may wish to head on down to Zinal, but it is a fantastic location to spend the night, savouring the beauty of the peak you have just traversed, as well as many other fine 4000m peaks.

Difficulty

Difficult

The beginning of truly technical terrain which might involve pitched climbing on rock and/or ice, exposed terrain and complex route finding in ascent and descent. Equivalent to AD, AD+

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Much of the route is difficult to protect and a fall could be disastrous at certain points.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

July, August, September

Equipment required

  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Quickdraws
  • Glacier kit
  • Wires and Friends

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area