Location: North 46.64344, East 008.42105 (GPS at the summit)
Difficulty: (YDS) class 2, Alpine grade F (Possibly more difficult in summer)
Climbed May 25, 2014
How to get there:
A good point of reference is the Furka Pass, a major pass connecting the
(upper) end of the Rhone valley with the land further east.
This is about a 2 hour drive from Zurich.
The road across the pass is closed in the winter, this closure may last until
June. The last hotel on the east side
is Hotel Tiefenbach, highly
recommended. For information, call and ask for Madeleine - she is very
knowledgeable and helpful.
A few kilometer on the west side of the pass is the historic
Belvedere hotel, located directly in a hairpin turn on the road.
Park in the parking at the outer curve of the turn, this is the
trailhead, location N46.57721, E008.38752, elevation about 2290 meter.
This mountain is most easily climbed on skis in the spring, perhaps until
mid-June, depending on the snow condtions.
From the parking, continue to the opposite side of the souvernir shop. You may perhaps
just walk straight through the store and exit on the back side. They charge admission for
visiting an ice cave at the very lower part of the glaicier, I assume that one may avoid paying
if the purpose is to ski onto the glacier.
If this is problematic, then try to circumvent this building. When I was there, the road was still
closed and it was easy to walk just outside of the building.
Follow the well developed path from the store as
it descends to the glacier, this is about 5 minutes,
descending approximately 50 meter.
Proceed along the right side of the glacier and find snow in order to
start skiing. This location is N46.58006, E008.38704, elevation about 2240 meter
The route now runs gently uphill while following the right hans side of the glacier. Stay
away from the far right in order to
avoid possible rock fall from the
steep side on your right. There is
a skiing route that pretty much follows the right
hand side of the glacier all the way to its upper
area. However, in late May, there was still a good snow cover and we found it more convenient to ski
more towards the middle of the glacier and ascend to the left of a more rugged area that is clearly
visible in the area where the glacier makes a right turn (when viewed uphill).
That is, the route (and main glacier) runs to the right of the (rightmost) peak
in this picture.
After skiing through an
area having crevasses that were easy to circumvent,
one will reach the upper area, an almost flat (a gradual uphill)
section that stretches to what looks like
the natural upper part of the main glacier.
Here, turn more right and ski uphill, still on quite
gentle slopes while approaching a distinct cone-shaped summit
at what appears to be the local horizon.
Higher up, before reaching the summit directly ahead, curve right and locate
a small, but sharp rocky ramp pointing left.
The summit of Dammastock is a bit further beyond and to the right as
seen in this picture.
One may ski all the way to the summit, however, perhaps more convenient, ski to the notch just
right of the rock ramp, then walk the final 50-100 meter along the
short, but nice summit ridge. In winter, be aware that the left hend side of
the ridge (as you approach from the north),
is steep and may be corniced.
The summit point
is marked by a small cross. Comments:
This trip was organized as a spring ski trip to the Alps, with Melanie Hetkamp,
Eirik Andersen, Pål Jørgen and myself. Thus, tickets and plans were
made well ahead of time. Unfortunately, Eirik injured his shoulder in a skiing
accident and needed surgery only 2 days before our departure. It was decided to
travel as planned and Eirik would enjoy the trip, but likely stay behind at the
hotel as "support staff" etc.
We had a Friday afternoon flight from Bergen via Oslo to Zurich, then got a pretty stupid
rental car (from Budget). We had pre-reserved a ski-rack, however, no such gear. They
offered an upgrade to a larger car for the same amount as the ski rack. After a few attempts, we
finally understood how to get the skis and the luggage as well as the 4 of us into
this mini-SUV, a star example of a big car that can carry almost nothing.
We started driving around 2030 and arrived at hotel Tiefenbach around 2230, so about
2 hours. Madeleine was waiting for us and even offered to serve us a 3 course dinner
at this late hour. We had a healthy meal, then to bed around midnight.
We ended up asking for breakfast at 0600. The plan was that the hotel would drive us
to the old Belvedere hotel at the other side of the (Furka) pass. We would then start skiing
We originally planned to do this climb on Saturday, May 24th. We got hotel
transportation on the closed road across
the Furka pass until the driver ran into
a rock on the pavement that he clearly believed to be a piece of snow. The power
assist on steering and brakes vanished and we continued on foot to hotel Belvedere,
about one kilometer further along.
The weather was really quite miserable, dense fog and semi-wet snow coming down. On top
of this a gentle breeze that did nothing to improve on the conditions. We reached the
Belvedere hotel and found our way
down to the glacier. The lower part of the glacier
was wrapped in, or
rather covered by some large fabric, seemingly to prevent excessive
melting. The team morale was rather low.
Melanie felt uneasy about even exploring
the lower part of the glacier given the lack of visibility. As we waited, to see if
things would improve, two skiers came down and emerged from the fog. They skied roped and
told us that their goal had been Galenstock, however, given the lack of visibility, they
had decided to turn back.
The weather now gradually improved and we decided
to explore the lower part of the route.
We skied roped as this was an unknown glacier to us and since the fog still reduced our
visibility, but now only in an on/off fashion, ie. 10 minutes with view, 20 minutes without
etc., alternating. It was pretty clear that the chances of reaching the summit today, were indeed
slim. If the weather kept improving, we still had enough time, however, the general team
motivation remained low. I decided that we rather should save our energy and try again
tomorrow, thus we turned around at a point were we
could see the more crevassed middle
section of the glacier. We returned to Tiefenbach
and enjoyed a lazy afternoon, a walk directly
uphill from the hotel brought us to a good viewpoint, from where we had a direct view
The weather continued to improve and it bacame clear that if we had ignored
the fog and general conditions that prevailed in the morning, we could have had a very
good climb of Dammastock this day.
Sunday, we again started with breakfast around 0600. It turned out that Melanie
was also far from her top shape, generally feeling fatigue and lack of strength.
It had therefore been decided that Pål Jørgen and I would try the
peak while Melanie stayed behind with Eirik.
We started skiing at 0710, and made good progress. We took a line directly up the
middle and skied a pretty solid route through the crevassed and broken up part
of the middle glacier.
The visibility was perfect in the morning, but clouds slowly accumulated as the
day grew older. The peaks on our right hand side, rose
sharply towards the morning sky.
We reached the upper end of the glacier in about
2 hours, then turned right and ascended the easy slopes without any difficulties.
Initially, we thought that the cone-shaped peak up in front could be the summit,
however, higher up, it became clear that Dammastock was further across to our right.
A very distinct triangular rock looked as if it could be the top, only closer, it became
clear that the summit was even further to our right. I skied to the small notch near the
base of the triangular rock, for the first time of this trip there was even
some semi-strong wind. Leaving the skies here, another 5 minutes and I arrived at the
summit at 1115, so 4:05, without really pushing.
Pål Jørgen soon followed and
the scenery with him approaching along the
ridge, was quite nice indeed.
Unfortunately, a lot of clouds that had accumulated while we ascended, now covered
most of the distant peaks,
in particular to the south and west. I still took some
pictures before we started back down to the skis. We started our downhill
skiing at 1155 and reached the trailhead in 45 minutes at 1240. On the way down, we had
very nice conditions, at a short break Pål remarked that here the two of us had
more than 1000 vertical meter of good skiing - and we were the only ones at the hill.
Pål skied with his wide Telemark skis while I used my Randonée skis.
The upper hill
was nicely crusted with about 2-3 centimeter of new snow on top.
The lower part had
developed a thin layer of slush, due to the warm sun, however, this can also
be quite nice.
Returning to Thiefenbach,
Pål carefully replaced the barrier (since the road
was still officially closed),
then a nice afternoon and yet another nice meal
served by Madeleine. We got up around 0500 the next morning in order to
catch our 0930 flight with some built in safety margin. SAS subsequently lost all
our baggage (6 pieces), but we returned to Bergen after a nice weekend in the Alps.
Circumstances that were unforseen made this trip less than optimal for Melanie
and Eirik. I certainly hope that we will find another opportunity for
doing a trip together.