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~ Saturday 1st October 2011

 The North ridge of the Zinal Rothorn is classic alpine ridge climbing - one of the best in the Alps. Luckily the Grand Mountet hut had stayed open longer than planned to host the Mountain Academy group, so we had a very comfortable night with one of the best views from any hut!

The North ridge has a long approach and a spectacular start up the Arete du Blanc. This can be easy in good conditions but it's definitely not at the track and hard snow on the north side with steep sun-rotted snow on the south made it quite nerve-wracking. We avoided the lower bit by climbing the rocks below the ridge on the south side, bit still had to teeter up the narrow crest for the upper section.

The rest of the route was in good condition - crampons off - and the climbing is brilliant, both exposed and sustained. As usual in late September there was no-one else on the route, although we did see one other team in the distance on the normal route...

Dawn on the glacier

Riding the "Bourrique"

 On Friday we had a lazy 7 o'clock breakfast before making the arduous 15 minute (!) approach to the Mammouth...soon we were climbing perfect rock in warm sun, a very pleasant end to a great week. We started up "Génepi" then continued along the whole ridge, which is brilliant exposed climbing on perfect rock. 

"threading the needle"