The Nadelgrat is one of the classic ridge traverses in the Alps (grade AD-). Unfortunately it was too late in the summer to include Durrenhorn as well, because of dangerously little snow in the coloir to Durrenjoch.
Saas Fee Aug 4 2007
From my basecamp in Saas Ground (Kapellenweg Camping), I drove the few kilometres to Saas Fee where there is a huge parking garage. Compared to other places in Switzerland it's rather cheap, even free of charge if you park less than 3 hours to shop in Saas Fee.
I planned for a bivouac above the Mischabel Hut, instead of a crowdy night in the overbook hut. The weather forecast indicated no showers in the evening/night, so I decided it was sufficient to bring a sleeping and bivouac bag.
The trail to Mischabel-hut is hard to miss when you walk the streets of Saas Fee (signs everywhere). In fact I had been one time before to Mischabel-hut, so I was not moving in to unfamiliar territory excactly. The only difference from my 2004-trip was that my backpack was substantial heavier now with camping, food and 3-4 liters of mineral water (to minimize my spending in the expensive Mischabel-hut).
The hike and scramble to the hut, is probably the most demanding hut-trail in the entire Alps, both in terms of elevation and difficulty. As they say about blue trails:
High mountain paths, designated by blue and white blazes, may require a guide or technical climbing equipment in some spots""
I guess the guide-thing would be unneccesary for most people :-)
I started to walk 13:15, and 2 hours later I reached the scrambling part, a steep ridge spoilt with ladders, wires and iron pegs in order to fascilitate hikers to reach the hut. It's a good idea to wear a helmet at this part.
After 3.5 hours I reached the hut (16:45). I stepped inside and talked to the old and extremely friendly hut-warden. He looked the same as last time I saw him in 2004. I asked for advice for camping. First he tried to convince me to stay in the hut, saying that he had some few beds left. I thinked twice, but decided to sleep under the stars, when it was such beautiful and stable weather.
Rather than camping on the designated spots below the hut (a smelly shit-central), I continued for 10 minutes beyond the hut. There I found a perfect flat 2-3 square-metres spot for my bivouach-bag.
During the evening, I was interupted several times when climbers hiked beyond the hut in order to get familiar with the route. Interupted is maybe the wrong word, because I had a very valuable disscusion with at least two of them, especially one from Bern who I talked with for at least 30 minutes.
--- more to come ---