(all pictures are low res, for high res click here)
Eventually, we made our way to the final climbing town, Zermatt, Switzerland. . Zermatt, is a quaint town about double the size of Wengen ("I'd like a double Wengen, baby!") and is home to the Matterhorn (the view from my hotel room!) and Monte Rosa (seen above). Before we would begin our climbing, I took some time to walk around the village. The village is not really that old by European standards, but these huts have all been built by the earliest inhabitants. Notice how they are built on stilts to keep the rats out (or as Vince mentioned, a rat would have to climb a 5.14 to get into any of these houses). While in Zermatt, I also spent a few humbling moments to visit the Zermatt climbers cemetery. As I continued my walk about beautiful Zermatt, I stopped at the Zermatt Alpine Museum, where they had Edward Whymper's iceaxe and rope that he used on the first ascent of the Matterhorn. Also at the mueseum were other artifacts including some of the first boots used on Everest as well as a collection of old iceaxes.
Later that day the drama with my guide continued. It appears that Lansing has had enough of our guide and the climb and has decided to pass on Monte Rosa. My guide then spends a bit of time convincing me that we shouldn't climb Monte Rosa because of our speed. Sheesh! I didn't think we were going that slow!?!? Paul may be a good climber, but he was really showing his immaturity as a guide. I am sure that he had some other motives behind not climbing, but so be it. For an alternative set of climbs, he suggested that we spend one day climbing the Riffelhorn and one day climbing Pollux. The Riffelhorn (2927 m) is a fairly easy rock climb, class 4 scrambling with a couple of class 5.6+ pitches. Mostly this is bolted sport climbing, depending on the route you choose. I still was not happy with my guide, but at this point I didn't have much choice. I joined him on the climb, and it was actually fun -- but it just wasn't Monte Rosa. At the bottom of the route, we were given some great views of Monte Rosa (seen above) and the Matterhorn.
The next day we took the telepheric up to Klein Matterhorn and proceeded to cross the glacier behind the Breithorn and head up the back side of Pollux. The route was pretty frozen, as we started the climb with some easy angled ice climbing, followed by moderate rock climbing which was enhanced with the use of a fixed line (in this case the fixed line was a chain). At the top of the rock climbing pitches, was a statue of Madonna with Child - we sat here for a few minutes to eat lunch, then we dropped our packs and headed up the 50 degree knife ridge to the summit (4092 m). . For a few moments I was actually happy again , as the views were spectacular (Monte Rosa) - (Castor) .
The next day, my guide kinda dissed me on another climb, so I just basically decided to hang out in Zermatt, take a few more pictures of this cool village (yes, they actually herd goats thru the streets) (train station) and find a nice to tree to sit under and read a book. It was a needed rest day, as I was leaving in 2 days to climb Kilimanjaro and I really didn't want to be around Paul anymore.
Finally, we ended the trip with a long but scenic drive back to Zurich . Along the way there were tons of crotch rockets passing us at every turn, as this drive was very popular with sport motorcyclists. (check out the winding road). For lunch we stopped at Furkapass (7, 500 ft), home to the Rhone Glacier , a tiny restaurant and a great stop for sport bikes. At the pass, we also found an unusual 2 person, electrically aided, aerodynamic bicycle. . Once in Zurich, I was happy to be rid of Paul. I spent the next day doing my own tour of the city, where I noticed yet another unusual bike. This is a special series BMW C1 motorbike that is not available in the US. . Bikes seemed to be the theme for the last couple days, as I walked past St. Peter's Church (which claims to have the largest clock face in Europe) , I literally stumbled upon a bike race. As I found out, this was no ordinary bike race, it was the Zurich World Cup . I got to watch America's cycling hero, Lance Armstrong finish third -- well, at a bike race you really only see them fly past you for about 5 seconds, then you watch most of the race on the big jumbotron. Lastly, I spent a few moments to actually go into St. Peter's Church and climb it's tower. The view from above was great!
At last, my European portion of my journey had come to an end. I had a great time, and I learned a great lesson - don't climb with guides you are not sure of. I also learned that I probably won't climb with IMG again, either.
Now it was off to the airport to catch a flight to Nairobi, Kenya and begin my trip to the top of the tallest peak in Africa, Kilimanjaro.