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Storm forces climbers to seek safety at lower altitudes

The team struggled through fog and storms on their way to Mönchsjoch

(swissinfo.ch)

Bad weather forced the party to abandon their planned route to the Schreckhorn Hut. The party of seven British climbers and their Swiss guides instead descended by rail to the Kleine Scheidegg, after struggling through fog and falling snow.

Les Swindin said a climbing team in the 19th century would have walked "north-east across the Eismeer glacier and down to Grindelwald". But the crevasses on the Eismeer and the danger of icefall forced the party to beat a retreat to the Mönchsjoch.

From there they made they way to the safety of the Jungfraujoch station before boarding a train to the Kleine Scheidegg, where they were to spend the night.

Bad weather meant the team were only able to leave the Bergli hut at 9am - three hours later than scheduled. They departed by climbing the rock spur behind the hut, and then negotiated the steep snow slopes leading to the lower Mönchsjoch.

Relic of a bygone age

The Mönchsjoch hut, which opened in the 1970s, gives climbers easy access to the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, which means the Bergli hut has all but been forgotten - a relic of a bygone age.

The reason is because the hut is difficult to reach, perched precariously on a rock spur that juts out from a wall of ice. Climbers sheltering in the Bergli hut have to bring their own food, as well as chop their own wood for the stove. Water is obtained by melting ice.

It was the sound of a chainsaw that guided the party through the fog and snowfall to the Mönchsjoch. The team regretfully stepped out of the 19th century as they arrived at the modern building perched on the Jungfraujoch.

The multi-levelled complex, with its souvenir kiosks and sterile self-service restaurants, was a culture shock for the group after the rustic and cosy conditions of the Bergli hut, where the climbers exchanged mountaineering stories while sipping a cup of tea made from melted ice.

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