North-west side of Lyskamm
|Elevation||4,527 m (14,852 ft)|
|Prominence||376 m (1,234 ft)|
|Parent peak||Monte Rosa|
|Location||Aosta Valley, Italy/Valais, Switzerland|
|First ascent||J. F. Hardy and party, 1861|
|Easiest route||Basic glacier/snow climb/scrambling along exposed ridge|
Lyskamm (also spelled Liskamm) (4527 m) is a mountain in the Pennine Alps lying on the border between Switzerland and Italy. It consists of a five-kilometre-long ridge with two distinct peaks. The mountain has gained a reputation for seriousness because of the many cornices lying on the ridge and the frequent avalanches, thus leading to its nickname the Menschenfresser (man eater).
Because of its modest prominence (376 m), Lyskamm is sometimes considered to be part of the nearby Monte Rosa Massif (in fact the Dufourspitze is only 107 metres higher). But visually Lyskamm is a huge massif, composed of two summits: the Eastern Liskamm and the lower Western Liskamm, separated by a one-km-long ridge, both lying on the border between the Swiss canton of Valais (north) and the Italian region of the Aosta Valley (south).
The northern side of the mountain is an impressive 1100-metre ice-covered wall, rising up from the Gorner Glacier. The gentler southern side rises only a few hundred metres above the glacier below (Ghiacciaio del Lis).
The eastern and higher of the two peaks is 4,527 m, and was first ascended in 1861 from the Lysjoch up the east ridge by a 14-man team (eight Englishmen and six Swiss guides) led by J. F. Hardy and including William Edward Hall. The other Englishmen were A. C. Ramsey, F. Sibson, T. Rennison, J. A. Hudson, C. H. Pilkington and R. M. Stephenson. The guides were Franz Josef Lochmatter (1825-1897) of St. Niklaus in the canton Valais, J.-P. Cachet, K. Kerr, S. Zumtaugwald, P. and J.-M. Perren.
The first attempt to climb the imposing north-east face was made in 1880 by the brothers Kalbermatten. They were carried down to the glacier by an avalanche but they survived the accident. On 9 August 1890, L. Norman-Neruda with guides Christian Klucker and J. Reinstadler were the first to reach the summit (Lyskamm East) by the north face, by what is now known as the "Norman-Neruda route". The first winter ascent of this route was made on 11 March 1956 by C. Fosson and O. Frachey.
In 1907, Geoffrey Winthrop Young and his guide traversed the whole ridge two times. Young wanted to traverse the ridge from the Nordend to the Breithorn. They started from Riffelalp at midnight and finished the traverse of the Monte Rosa massif at midday. But after the traverse of the Lyskamm and Castor the guide was too tired. Young, who was very disappointed, convinced him to go back by the Lysjoch before descending to Zermatt, implying a second traverse on the Lyskamm. Young even wanted to continue back to the Nordend but his guide refused to prolong the journey.
The normal route starts from the Lysjoch, which can be accessed from the Gnifetti Hut (3,650 m) or from the Monte Rosa Hut (2,795 m). The route follows the route taken by the first ascentionists.
The mountain is often climbed as a traverse from the Feliksjoch (West), to the Lysjoch (East) or vice versa. The traverse consists mostly of a narrow, snow-covered ridge, with some scrambling over rocks. In good conditions, this route is fairly easy and objectively safe, however in bad snow conditions and/or bad visibility, the ridge can be challenging because of large, sometimes double, cornices, mainly on the southern side of the ridge.
- W. E. Hall (1870) "The fatal accident on the Lyskamm", Alpine Journal, 5: 23–32
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