Nadelhorn - Nadelgrat or Dirruhorn-Nadelhorn traverse by the Dirrujoch
From Gasenreid to the Bordier Hut or from Saas Fee, (Hannig cable car) to the Mischabel hut
From the Bordier hut (2886m), take the path marked with reflectors which after passing through some large boulders leads to the Riedgletscher moraine (p. 2973m). Follow the path up the moraine until about 3000m then traverse to the right (faint path) to the glacier. Follow the intermittent path between the glacier and the moraine until about 3250m. Go onto the glacier and up to a level section at about 3300m. Go under the ridge coming down from the Balfrin and pass, on the true right bank, a wall of crevasses which ends at the Riedgletscher plateau at around 3400m. Firstly go SE and at around 3500m go diagonally to the right to reach the foot of NE gully, about 3700m) coming down from the Dirrujoch, passing under a serac zone to the N of the Hohberghorn. (Do not go directly towards the gully as there are a lot of crevasses.)
From the Mischabel hut (3329m), follow the path to the E on a rocky ridge towards the Hohbalmgletscher plateau, which you join at around 3600m. Traverse horizontally to the snow slope under the Windjoch and go up this to the col (3850m). Descend the NW side of the Windjoch towards the Riedgletscher plateau at about 3540m. From here go to the foot of the NE gully descending from the Dirrujoch and so join the route Bordier hut. If the NW side of the Windjoch is in bad condition, it is better to climb the Ulrichschorn (3925m) by its SW ridge and then descend the snow slopes on its N face to the Riedgletscher plateau.
Cross the bergschrund and, if the gully is snowed up all the way, climb this to the Dirrujoch (3912m). If the gully is not in condition, go diagonally right over rocks after about 80m. (Old abseil points are visible.) Climb up the rocks, keeping to the right of the abseil points to reach the ridge between the Dirrujoch and the Dirruhorn, (broken rock II-III).
From the Dirrujoch (3912m) climb up and back down the easy but broken rocks to the Dirruhorn (4035m).
From the Dirrujoch again, follow the ridge towards the Hohberghorn. This is initially rocky, (taken mainly on the SW side) then, at around 4050m, a snowy ridge leads to the summit mound. Climb the buttress keeping a few metres to the left, (mixed, steep, but fairly easy) until the ridge and the summit of the Hohberghorn (4219m).
Descend the easy snow ridge to the col between the Hohberghorn and the Stecknadelhorn (4144m) then climb the rocky ridge, (again keeping mainly to the SW side,) to the summit of the Stecknadelhorn (4241m).
Descend the NE side until the snow (about 4220m) then go along the snowy ridge towards the Nadelhorn. A little before the summit the ridge steepens and becomes rocky. Traverse a pinnacle (III) and after a short snow section join the N ridge, (normal route) of the Nadelhorn, and follow this for the last 50m to the summit (4327m). N.B. To avoid the pinnacle, it is possible to join the N ridge lower down by contouring the N slopes under the summit. (Awkward if the slopes are icy.)
Variant 1. The gully leading to the col (3860m) between the Dirruhorn and the Chli Dirruhorn: Follow the previous route from the Bordier Hut to the Riedgletscher plateau and climb the obvious gully between the Dirruhorn and the Chli Dirruhorn, exitting to the right. This gully can be very dangerous in less than perfect conditions. Follow the ridge to the summit of the Dirruhorn (4035m)
Variant 2. Via the Galenjoch (3303): This route avoids the gullies and may be preferable in dry conditions. It is aesthetically more pleasing as it traverses the entire ridge. From the Bordier hut go back down across the glacier on the approach path from Gasenried. Shortly after reaching the true left bank (around 2700m) there is a track marked by reflectors with some cables etc. This path eventually reaches the Galenjoch (1h30 - 2h). It is difficult to follow, especially in the dark so ask the guardian for more precise details. From the Galenjoch follow the ridge, initially very broad and easy, then steeper with broken rocks to go over the Chli Dirruhorn (3890m) and so to the col in variant 1. (AD, III)
By the N ridge,(normal route,) of the Nadelhorn, to the Windjoch (3850m). From here:
to go back to the Bordier hut (2886m), descend to the Riedgletscher plateau, (see above) and so join the approach route.
to go back to the Mischabel hut (3329m), follow the approach route for that hut.
Long, classic route at altitude, typical of the Valais, the rock also!. The gully leading up to the Dirrujoch can be awkward in dry conditions. Worse, there is a serious stonefall risk, especially after sunrise. The rocks to the right of the gully are very loose. Beware if there are other parties on the route. Going to the summits of the Dirruhorn and the Nadelhorn can be avoided, (you gain about 1h for each.) With global warming it is possible that the route via the Galenjoch will become the preferred option.
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