A Winter Climb of the Dufourspitze


After a long pause I wrote another trip report. This time of a winter climb of Switzerland's highest peak, the Dufourspitze (4634 m).

Also, I have moved most of my blogging and photo posting over to Google+. Go check out my page there!

Climbers on the west ridge of Dufourspitze with Matterhorn and Dent d'Herens behind


Weekly Photo: The Summit Ridge of Piz Palü


The weather wasn't all that great when we climbed Piz Palü by ski. Most people didn't bother ascending the summit ridge in the fog and turned around at the saddle. But we felt good and continued, dumped the skies, and postholed our way up to the eastern summit to be rewarded with opening clouds and great views.

Ski mountaineer on the summit ridge of Piz Palü (3901 m) in the Bernina range, Switzerland


Weekly Photo: Ortler via Hintergrat


This photo is from a climb of Ortler (3905 m) in the Italian alps a few years back. The climb follows this great ridge to the summit. The descend via the less spectacular normal route was very long which might be the reason that somehow I remember it more than the ascend...

Climber ascending Ortler (3905 m) via Hintergrat ridge, Italy


Weekly Photo: Tilicho Lake


This was one of the highlights of my trip to the Annapurna range in the Nepal Himalayas: Camping by one of the world's highest lakes, Tilicho Lake (4949 m). I vividly remember the sight of this high mountain wall at the south shore of the lake as well as how cold it was.

High camp at Tilicho Lake in the Nepal Himalayas


Weekly Photo: Aiguille du Plan


This is the ridge that connects the Aiguille du Midi to the Aiguille du Plan in the Mont Blanc range of the French Alps. It looks wild even though the photo was taken from the visitor terrace of the Aiguille du Midi cable car station.

Aiguille du Plan (3673 m) with Midi Plan ridge seen from Aiguille du Midi, France


Weekly Photo: Petra


Petra in Jordan was one of the highlights of my trip to the Middle East. It is simply amazing. Because of the midday heat and the crowds I planned out my three day stay wisely: After sightseeing in the morning, I returned to the hotel for a nap and went back to the site in the early evening. Lots of walking this way but also lots of rewards like this one: Seeing the Treasury from the Siq void of any people at 6:30am!

Treasury seen from the Siq at Petra (Jordan)


Weekly Photo: Sunrise over the Jungle


We wanted to watch macaws at a clay lick deep in the jungle of Peru's Manu National Park. While we were waiting for the macaws I had time to shoot the sunrise.

Sunrise over the jungle, Manu National Park (Peru)


Weekly Photo: Climbing in the Dolomites


This photo is from climbing Grohmannspitze in the Italian Dolomites a few years back. We had great weather which is something I am currently missing: this summer it is frustratingly rainy in the Alps...

Climbing Grohmannspitze in the Dolomites, Italy


Weekly Photo: Crossing Amphulapcha Pass


This is from last year's trekking trip in the Everest region of Nepal where we had to cross the 5845 m high Amphulapcha pass. The ascend on the south side that involves climbing steep seracs was easy compared to the descend on the north side. There everybody had to rappel a few rope lengths. Easy for us "tourists" but quite a feat for our heavily laden porters!

Climber ascending Amphulapcha Pass with Peak 41 in the background


Weekly Photo: Climbing Nevado Pisco in Peru


In the summer of 2008 I spent a few weeks climbing in Peru's Cordillera Blanca with Jim, an old college friend from Seattle. We picked the normal route up Pisco Oeste (5760 m/18898 ft) as our acclimatization climb. This photo shows two Italian climbers tackling the final pitch to the summit.

Climbers ascending the summit of Pisco Oeste (5752 m) in the Cordillera Blanca (Peru)


Weekly Photo: After the Storm


This trip to Mont Blanc was quite a disaster: With a late start on the first day we barely made it off Tour Ronde before nightfall. On the next day we got caught in lightning on the Glacier du Geant. We eventually made it to the hut just to be trapped there for another day by the snow storm (in August!). When the clouds finally cleared our time was up and we had to drive home.

Aiguille du Plan (3673 m) with Midi Plan ridge seen from Aiguille du Midi, France


Weekly Photo: "The Table" on Aiguille du Tour


The Mont Blanc massif is quite a drive from Zurich (3 hours) but it's always worth it! Yesterday, we climbed Aiguille du Tour (3544 m) via the couloir de la table. What a great climb: A scenic glacier crossing at sunrise, followed by a snowy couloir, and finished by an exposed ridge traverse on famous Chamonix granite. In the photo one can see Aiguille du Chardonnet on the left, followed by Aiguille Verte, and finally Mont Blanc, which is the chubby snow capped peak in the center of the shot.

Climber on the


Weekly Photo: Summit Ridge of Piz Palü


The weather had been quite promising on that day when we ascended the famous Piz Palü in the Bernina range of Switzerland. But after we had dumped the skies and started to climb the steep and rather exposed snow ridge to the east summit, the clouds had moved in and we were climbing in a whiteout. But suddenly the clouds lifted and the cameras started clicking...

Ski mountaineer on the summit ridge of Piz Palü (3901 m) in the Bernina range, Switzerland


Weekly Photo: The Big Cornice at the Arete de Rochefort


This is the Arete de Rochefort in the Mont Blanc massif, a high alpine ridge just below the 4000 m mark on the border between France (to the left) and Italy (to the south). We were late and the winds were quite strong up there so we turned around at that point. But having seen that huge cornice means that I'll have to go up there again one day to finish the traverse. This photo was also recently published in the Daily Telegraph's Ultratravel magazine.

Climbers on Arete de Rochefort with its famous cornice, France/Italy


Climbing in the Cordillera Blanca


In 2008 I spent a few weeks climbing in Peru's Cordillera Blanca. I wrote a few blog posts back then but never got around to integrate them in this site. Not until now:

Tocllaraju (6032 m) Glacier Camp at sunset with Ranrapalca (6162 m) in the background, Cordillera Blanca (Peru)


Weekly Photo: Trekking in the Nepal Himalayas


We had camped at the shores of Tilicho Lake and continued our trek through the Annapurna region when we passed this impressive wall where avalanches came tumbling down constantly...

Trekkers near Tilicho Lake in the Nepal Himalayas


Weekly Photo: The Matterhorn


We had left the hut at 5am to climb Zinalrothorn, another 4000 m peak in the Zermatt area of the Alps, just opposite from the famous Matterhorn (4478 m). It was a long day and it got late. When the last sun rays hit the top of the Matterhorn this is what we saw.

Sunset over the Matterhorn (4478 m), Switzerland


New Project: Weekly Photo


I started taking photos many years ago on a Minolta film SLR. In 2004 I switched to Canon and went digital. Currently I shot on a Canon 550D (which takes HD video too). I have accumulated thousands of photos, either taken on travel trips around the world or on my many mountain adventures. Most of these photos serve to document a trip and are mostly interesting to me and my climbing buddies and not necessarily to anybody else. But some of them are quite beautiful and I think they are worth sharing with others. My aim is to unbury one of these photos every week and republish it on this blog. We'll see how long I can keep up with this weekly rhythm...

I'll start with the one below (which is really a panorama stitched together from a bunch of shots). I've lived in Seattle for 5 years but it wasn't until a few weeks before I returned to Europe that I took my (newly acquired!) Canon 300D and tripod and went to Kerry Park in the Queen Ann Hill neighborhood to shoot the city's skyline from this famous vantage point with it's unique view of downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, the waterfront, and the harbor. And behind it all is Mount Rainier looming which I had the fortune to summit twice.

Seattle skyline at dusk seen from Kerry Park with downtown Seattle, Seattle Center with the Space Needle, Seattle waterfront, and Mount Rainier, Washington, USA (panorama)


Website Rewrite


This website started many years ago as a bunch of static HTML files. When I started to put up photos I used text files as a rudimentary database solution. The website then went through a revamp every couple of years. I switched to a real SQL database, used Perl, later PHP, before eventually settling on Ruby and Ruby on Rails with which I'm still happy.

However, weird legacy code and a database design from the Perl days were in the way of implementing new things and moving forward. Hence a complete revamp was needed.

During the past couple of weeks I switched to RoR 3 and completely rewrote the website and the database backend. There is a new (and hopefully nicer) design, new photos will be hosted by the awesome smugmug.com. Commenting on some pages and a blog has been added. And lots of invisible improvements on the administrative backend.

I hope you like it.


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