Dent Blanche

22 Summits Stories

Anjan, you lead the way!

Anjan Truffer received his first lesson as a future mountain guide and rescue chief of Zermatt in September 1994 during his training, on the Dent Blanche. In retrospect, the event he was involved in there already pointed beyond the role of mountain guide. Twenty years later, Anjan Truffer succeeded Bruno Jelk as rescue chief of Zermatt. What had happened in the driving snow on Dent Blanche?

The young mountain guide aspirant Anjan Truffer was on the way to the Schönbielhütte with the other aspirants of his class and his instructor. The weather changed and it started snowing. During the night there was 30-40 cm of fresh snow. They postponed the tour to Dent Blanche and consulted. The instructor, who was leading his first aspirant group, said that normally they would cancel the tour with guests in such conditions. But they, as future mountain guides, would have to cope with it. The group set off and attacked the Wandflue. One firn field further on, they re-evaluated: actually, they had to turn back, but they were professionals. Anjan Truffer took over the lead of his rope team. They crossed a couloir. No sooner had they entered the gully than a large avalanche swept him and Miggi Biner away, first 30 m over the rocks into the snowfield, 200 m in total. "Ice and stones, sometimes light, sometimes dark. We were totally helpless. It goes by quickly, but you feel like it takes an eternity. My thought was, 'I'm too young to die. My time hasn't come yet'," Truffer recalls. They were lucky. Their legs were punctured by the crampons, Anjan had a broken shoulder, Miggi a torn muscle fibre, but they were even able to get to the Stafelalpe on foot.

"I talk a lot about intuition in my talks today," says Zermatt's rescue chief. "We had gone way too far that day on Dent Blanche. The instructor had put himself under pressure. That led to a wrong decision. Mountain guides sense when something is not good. Our intuition comes from experience. That is an extremely important tool."

Miggi Biner died in an avalanche on the Stockhorn 13 years after the accident, in March 2007. He and Anjan Truffer were best friends. They had gone to school together and had conquered the climbing world together. Together they decided to become mountain guides after their apprenticeship and trained for all their exams together. They went on expeditions to Alaska and the Andes with their guests. "Miggi's death in the avalanche hit me hard back then," says Anjan Truffer. Eight years later he became rescue chief.

Rescue chief Anjan Truffer

Since 2015, mountain guide and rescue specialist Anjan Truffer has been responsible for mountain rescue in the region around Zermatt. He leads a team of ten people, is responsible for administration and media relations, and negotiates with all technical commissions. Without helicopters, there would be no modern mountain rescue: the rescue chief and his team work closely with Air Zermatt and are involved in many of the company's decisions. At the age of 14, Anjan Truffer stood on the Matterhorn for the first time. His uncle Franz Schwery was the hut warden at the Hörnli hut. The nephew helped out many summers at the foot of the Hörnli ridge. Truffer acquired his mountain guide's licence at the age of 20. In the mid-90s, he was the youngest mountain guide in the Alpine region.