HB/VS-170. Majinghorn. 3053metres. Saturday 17th August 2019.
Finally, I can now report on a new Swiss peak that I can recommend to fellow activators. It is relatively safe walking in summer with only a short stretch across some steep scree slopes.
I submit that the secret to a successful activation of this fine, accessible peak and the 10 points that success will provide, is investing 22CHF (Swiss Francs, August 2019 prices) in a return ticket on the Torrent to Rinderhutte Cabane lift. The 09:00 hours starting time (09:30 by the time we reached the top station) should give you enough time to achieve the summit, activate the peak and get back to the lift to catch the last descent at 17:00 hours with ease.
Ignoring the immediate gratification provided by the many materialist distractions around the Rinderhutte (2312m), except perhaps the (ahem) toilet, follow the waymarked trail (and crowds) towards the Torrenthorn until you reach the yellow Torrenthorn signpost on the broad ridge at 2560m. A few well-constructed cairns (3 or 4) stand clearly on the ridge to Torrenthorn marking this junction. I strongly advise only attempting Majinghorn in excellent visibility.
Perversely, ignore the yellow signpost to the Torrenthorn and instead take the gently rising agricultural/industrial path that traverses the north face of the peak (no waymarks or signposts). We surmised it was built to bring a dependable supply of water to the Rinderalp? Clearly, it is no longer maintained, with some eroded and exposed stretches but initially provides an easy and comfortable approach to the ground you need to cross beneath The Majinghorn.
The industrial path finishes abruptly at a deep gully that cuts messily down the mountainside. However, the sides of the gully have a faint, established path, but the fine scree is steep and treacherous, and a robust approach helps to cross the divide. This path is not obvious from a distance, or even close up when I think about it! The next few hundred metres cover similar steep terrain and is not for the faint-hearted. A set of walking poles and a head for heights proved useful.
Once off the scree the mountain then pretends it is a quarry. The boulder hopping is helped by the variable sized stonemen (cairns) which brings you onto the rough, remnants of a lateral moraine then a short flat pavement of glaciated slab. The walking proved easy and pleasant. In mid-August a small number of remarkably attractive alpine wildflowers thrived in this bleak and rocky meadow.
The cairns continue gently uphill and soon the final, steeper ridge of Majinghorn shows the obvious ascent route. Follow your nose, and the faint path, to reach the summit edge and shortly afterwards the summit cairn and crucifix. Our ascent time from Rinderhutte to the summit was just less than 2 hours. In my experience an appealing, short approach time for a 10-point summit!
We found little effective shelter around the summit, which is large and flat with enough space for a portable antenna of any useable size. A steady wind was blowing, but it was not cold enough to motivate me to find a sheltered temporary shack. There was a shelf below the top which might have helped had it been necessary, but it is also close to the steep north edge. There is a large summit crucifix which might support an antenna pole should you choose to so desecrate this religious artefact. The summit book is contained in a small alloy container bolted to the upright of the summit cross. I hope that you should be able to read our entry dated 17/8/2019. A bit of explaining will be needed if it is not there!
The views were outstanding. To the north Balmhorn and on the left Rinderhorn (3448m. HB/VD-070, not a peak I can recommend), which we had activated for the first time the day before. The Bernese Oberland peaks were visible to the east and to the south the famous alpine peaks formed a horizon at 4000m; Lagginhorn, Weissmies, Dom, Taschhorn, Monta Rosa, Liskamm, Weisshorn, Zinal Rothorn, Matterhorn, Dent d’Herens, Dent Blanche, Mont Blanc de Chelion, Grand Combin and finally the peaks around Mont Blanc. I reiterate, only attempt this peak in excellent visibility! We drank in the view clothed in every scrap of clothing we had carried onto the summit.
The bands were busy with lighthouses and some overseas competitions. My 10 watts was quickly swamped by others who started calling on ‘empty’ frequencies. With lunch eaten and our core body temperature slowly descending, we decided to physically descend, just as a lone walker appeared on the summit beside us. The only person we saw all day, once away from the Torrenthorn path. The path down was unremarkable, but very welcome. We followed our comfortable approach, augmenting and repairing some of the cairns as we returned and even building a new one where we thought better notice of a left turn was required.
Although we arrived back at the top station of the ski lift 150 minutes before it closed, we descended almost immediately, although we can report that the outside refreshment tent and inside restaurant of the Rinderhutte looked pleasant. The reason for our swift descent was to get into position for the next activation, which will hopefully be recorded in my activation log for the following day!