Skiing the Haute Route

From Chamonix to zermatt

The Haute Route is the ultra classic high mountain traverse linking Chamonix to Zermatt, sleeping in huts at night and only going back to the valley flooronce, to connect Champex to Verbier [...]. We left from the Grands Montets cable car on a very busy Saturday morning, skied down to the Glacier d’Argentiere below and started up to the Col du Chardonnet, the first pass of the Haute Route. Yet, at the pass, one of the clients hurt his calf and we had to turn around, skiing back to Chamonix in difficult snow conditions.

The following day, we took a taxi to Verbier and enjoyed a nice breakfast. I thought that we wouldn’t leave until 9am, giving the people arriving from the Trient hut enough time to get to Verbier. I was hoping to share the lead with some other guides because both the visiblity and the weather were really bad. We took the lift to the “Col des Gentianes”. Skiing down the piste, we had to ski pole to pole to remain on the piste because the visibility was at the most 5m out. [...] Much to my dismay, no other parties or guides were on route that day. When we arrived at the hut, the hut keeper told us that out of the 80 reservations she had, only 17 people showed up. The parties that were already there had started from the Mont Fort Hut, on the Verbier pistes.

It was actually really nice to have so few people along. It made the experience much more relaxing and enabled us to have more a “wilderness experience”. It froze overnight, and we were able to cross over to the Dix Hut, without going back down to the valley, as a lot of parties had had to do because the snowpack was too soft. [...] We arrived at the hut in time for the delicious Rosti, specialty of the Dix Hut.

The fourth day, we skied up and over to the Pigne D’Arolla via the Serpentine [...]. Although Italy is amazing and the food is orgasmic (let’s not be afraid of words here ;-) ), they are architects of toilets. The toilet is outside, way down some steep metal staircase in a rectangular box, whose door doesn’t close, and to top it off, you stand on a see-through grid which offers a view on a pyramid of… well… you know. That being said, the hut was lovely… less lovely was getting out of there and back on the main Haute Route the next morning, touring up some SW facing refrozen steepness. [...] Our itinerary for the day was Col Collon-Col du Mont Burle-Col de Valpelline, which offers the most stunning view on the Matterhorn.

With one more day on the schedule, we skied down to Furi (the mid station in Zermatt) and took the cable car up to the Klein Matterhorn and finished the trip with an ascent of the Breithorn, the most accessible 4000m peak around. We enjoyed a nice and very long ski down to Zermatt with a stop in Furi for some beers and Croute au Fromage… or was it Rosti again ?

Caroline George

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