Valais Alps East Selected Climbs

Review by planetFear
Wednesday 1st September 1999
This long awaited second volume to the Valais Alps arrived in good time for the sumer migration to the Alps. Like its twin, Valais Alps West, it has been well worth waiting for. Arguably the book covers the most important cluster of 4,000ers in the Alps, there are 27 of them within its pages making the Valais East a Mecca for lovers of middle grade and classic ascents. But, in reality, this guide has climbs for everyone — tiger and tiro alike. There is also a useful section on multi-day walking tours ideal for getting to know the area, getting fit or an active, non-climbing holiday.

The area covered naturally continues eastwards from the Valais Alps West volume in a north-south line connecting the Val d’Annivers and Valtournenche. The northern boundary is the Rhone, the southern is the natural mountainous frontier between Switzerland and Italy. The eastern limit is a north-south line from the Simplon through the Monte Moro Pass to Macugnaga and Alagna in the Valle della Sesia.

Within its 360 or so pages can be found a wealth of information that will arm itinerant Alpinists with all they need to know for a really great climbing summer, be they peak baggers in pursuit of 4,000ers or climbing connoisseurs seeking less obvious gems. There is plenty of information packed into its pages to help while away bad weather days in an hut or sodden tent. Of course, in such a traditional part of the Alps all the great names are there: Conway, Penhall, Tuckett, King, Whymper and Winthrop Young — it reads like a roll call of the Alpine Club’s greats along with their guides Imseng, Supersaxo, Burgener, Kalbermatten and Knubel to list but a few. Well it should, of course, because this is where their greatest game was played in the Golden Age of Alpinism.

The editors/authors have done a grand job in compiling, sifting and selecting the enormous amount of material that is available for this area. As with other recent Alpine Club guides you need to study the book to become proficient at connecting route description to the excellent picture section and matching numbers to routes but take my advice, if you can’t do that stay at home, or better still hire a guide.

I searched through its pages reading the descriptions of routes I’ve done several times and found nothing to argue with. In time, I’m sure faults or errors may turn up. Some users used to rock route descriptions may baulk at the sparsity of information when a 1,000m or more of mountain wall can be described in a few lines. But all you need to know is there — the rest of the adventure is up to you.

I must congratulate the authors and the Alpine Club for producing such an important volume. At £18.50 it might at first appear expensive, but it will be little more than the price of a couple of coffees and a cream cake in a Zermatt cafe to celebrate your successful ascents, all thanks to this guide.

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