“We headed out at 6 the next morning. We had a tight weather window and only this one chance to summit.”
— Jacqueline Fritz | LOWA ACTIVE Team
A rosy dream come true
Italy On one leg from Lake Maggiore through the Val Grande National Park up to the high-alpine peak of the Monte Rosa Massif.
Jacqueline Fritz, 35, Alpine athlete and climber on the Paraclimbing National Team did it again: She has pushed her own limits, stepped out of her comfort zone and fulfilled a long-desired outdoor dream. With her companion dog Loui and her friend and camerawoman Laila Tkotz, 29, she succeeded in July 2020 at a crossing of the northern Italian alps and climbing the Monte Rosa Massif. Once again in her proven style without prosthetic or supplemental aid.
All signals were green for go as the two women and Loui the dog headed out for Italy on July 12, 2020. The weather forecast was outstanding, the borders were open again, and they had booked all of the huts. Finally, they were going to complete what had been denied them in August 2019 due to bad weather: A crossing and climb of the north Italian alps and the bordering Valais alps. But let’s start from the start:
The city of Verbania at 193 meters altitude on the west shore of Lake Maggiore marked the start of their expedition. From there, Jacqueline, Laila and Loui blazed a trail onward to more remote, long-standing paths through the barely accessible Val Grande National Park. There, they got a taste of the adventure they hoped for in the high mountains. For a total of 1.5 weeks, they lived as on expedition, fully self-sufficient, in a tent with packs, food and gear, photo equipment, and of course provisions too for Loui the dog. But due to thunderstorms, the trip came to an abrupt end in Macugnaga. After waiting it out for a short time, three weeks of continuous bad weather forced abandoning the expedition since the weather wouldn’t allow ascent into the high mountains.
Only having clicked off 70 kilometres, but nearly 5,000 meters of climbing, Jacqueline, Laila and Louie turned back to Germany on Aug. 24, 2019.
Since the climb from Macugnaga was not possible now due to COVID-19, they couldn’t take on their 2019 route precisely, so they started out instead from Alagna toward the high mountains. At an altitude of 2,500 meters, they lived the first few days self-sufficiently in a tent and used that time for acclimatisation before they reached the Rifugio Capanna Giovanni Gnifetti in the Aosta Valley at 3,647 meters). There, they met local mountain guides Andrea Pierettori and Nicola Degasparis who would round out their team.
Now a group of five, they climbed across the Lys Glacier to the highest hut in Europe, the Margherita Hut. The shelter in a spectacular location on the Signalkuppe peak (4,554 meters) is the starting point of numerous high-alpine tours in the Valais alps, including one to the Dufourspitze at 4,634 meters and the highest peak in Switzerland.The next day that very majestic peak was the goal for Andrea, Nicola and Jacqueline. That’s why the two guides had brought along ropes to secure them and to facilitate the climb and descent for the
The chances of reaching the summit where only about 50–50 because heavy fog was also forecast by early afternoon. That would have meant the need to turn back. Indeed, after accomplishing about three-quarters of the route, the feared fog rolled in and they had to head back down since they still had a long way back that including cleaning the protection.
They were a little bit melancholy as they left Dufourspitze behind, but they used the following days to climb a total of five 4,000ers. Jacqueline was able to finally check off a box on her long-desired project list: Monte Rosa was no longer just a rose-coloured dream, but a rosy one at that.
Jacqueline Fritz, 35, is a German alpine athlete and climber who lost her right leg at age 24 after a ballet accident and several failed operations. The mountains and sports gifted her the needed courage to live and have now become the centre of her life. The LOWA ACTIVE Team athlete established herself in very few years as a recognized athlete and today climbs with the German Para National Team. She won a bronze for German in Summer 2019.