Haute Route 2000 'the Verbier route'

day 1 Argentière - Refuge d'Argentière

See also the 
Route & Maps

day 2 Refuge d'Argentière - Cabane du Trient
day 3 Cabane du Trient - Cabane de Monfort
day 4 Cabane de Monfort - Cabane de Dix
day 5 Cabane de Dix - Cabane des Vignettes
day 6 Cabane des Vignettes - Zermatt

day 1    top

April 5 2000
The first day we have chosen for an easy stage. At one o'clock we went up to the Grand Montets with the telepherique. The weather was really clouded and foggy, but we were too excited to be worried.  The first thing we noted when we arrived at the upper station was the avalanche warning sign.  Our guide Luc double checked everything (I couldn't bring my spare socks...).  

the last warning...

Skiing down to the Argentière glacier was tough, there was 50 cm of fresh / heavy snow and our guide had to use his map to find the good route to the glacier, while avoiding the crevasses.  On the glacier we put on our skins and the weather cleared up a little.

hut line-up first climb

The climb to the hut took only a small hour, only the last part was a little tricky.  The refuge d'Argentière is managed by a very big man who is named the 'Bear of Vallorcine'.  If you take a good look at the picture below you will see a motorcycle placed on the roof of the hut.  The hut was not crowded, only some British who also started the Haute Route and some Germans that were tour skiing in this region.  With the Col du Chardonnet on our mind next we closed our eyes and slept very bad.

please zoom in

The next morning we woke at 5 am and the sky was clear blue.  This hut has some really amazing views on the Argentière glacier and the surrounding peaks.

day 2    top

The next morning we woke at 5 am and the sky was clear blue.  This hut has some really amazing views on the Argentière glacier and the surrounding peaks.

Glacier d'Argentière clouds in the valley

At 6.15 am we left the hut and descended to around 2600 meters to start our first col of the day, le col du Chardonnet (3323 m).  This was the first real test for us on altitude, but it went real smoothly.  Our guide made the track and the two other groups followed.  Halfway, one of the skins of our guide his ski came off.  Luckily he had a repair set with him, but it gave the Germans the chance to pass us, just 200 m under the col.

climbing le col du Chardonnet view from the col, the British team

Then the next test, skiing down the col to the Saleina glacier.  Well, a German tried it and fell 100 m down.  Our guide Luc took the rope and made us descend safe.

Tim with the ropes on the border of F and CH Q is being secured by the guide JP sticking his skins together

After we descended our guide came down, while we enjoyed the view.

Luc coming down from the col du Chardonnet Simms watching the Germans

The descent on the upper side of the Saleina glacier was easy, at some moment we put on our skins again for the second col, the Fenetre de Saleina (3261 m).  At some moment we had to take our skies off and to continue by feet, not any easy job.

le Fenetre de Saleina Tim struggling the traverse to Cabane de Trient

There was a plane landing and taking off all the time on the Plateau du Trient.  After a quick traverse we finally could see the cabane.

what a noice Cabane du Trient

Arriving at 2 pm feels good, being served cold beers was even better.  Our guide had other worries on his mind, he had to re-glue his skins.

welcomed by the host, 'Black' Heineken shot Simmie already an offer for this picture Glueing

The atmosphere at cabane du Trient was really good,  this is a really good hut with good food and superb night views.  The Germans were going to descent from the la Tour glacier, but because of clouds they got scared and so they also diverted to cabane du Trient.  Our guide had a big laugh about it.

(...) (...)

day 3    top

This day was going to be an easy day, so we got up at 6 am and we had all the time to prepare our big descent to Champex.  At 7.30 am we left just after an American group.  On the first descent of the Trient glacier one of our team member did not follow our guide's instructions and fell over a rock.  Especially the American ladies were impressed and gave him the name "Rocky Roger".  After that, I was caught in a little mini avalanche 5 minutes after that we all climbed up on the col des Ecandies for our descent in the Vallée d'Arpette.

looking back at our tracks see our tracks (5 tracks upper left) smiling after fresh pwoder

Especially the whole upper section of the Vallée d'Arpette was packed with great easy powder, Sims showed of his real extreme skiing talents. The lower section was very icy and hard to ski on those light ski's.  We arrived in Champex early to do some shopping (bread, cheese and chocolates, ski goggles and new fleece shirts).  We relaxed near the lake at the Relais de Champex. After lunch we took the bus with the Americans to le Chable and took the cable cars to Attelas via Verbier.  From there it was an easy traverse to the Mont Fort hut, which was crowded with normal skiers.  We had lots of sun and beers and finally at 5 pm most people left to Verbier and only the die hards stayed in this very nice hut.

the Champex lake Q still in working clothes

day 4    top

Day 4 would be the longest day, with 1900 m of vertical climbing we left the Mont Fort hut very early.  At 4 am the guide was leading us in the dark to the Col de la Chaux, from there we had a view on the Rosablanche.

la Rosablanche 3336 m

After a short descent we put our skins back on and climbed to the col de Momin (3059 m) and continued for the highest peak of the day, the Rosablance (3336 m).  From the top we had a first view on the top of the Matterhorn.

group photo on the top view on the Matterhorn, Lac des Dix (left below)

Descending the Rosablanche can be fun for certain and a pain for others.  Luc secured me and 2 other team members via rope. Rocky Roger and Sims showed how you have to jump in the turns with a 10 Kg backpack on a 50% icy slope.  Our guide lost his rope due to a misunderstanding with an old French man, Q had to collect it (see middle picture).

Luc our guide Luc lost his ropes.....  waiting on the guide 

Skiing down towards Lac des Dix got tougher and tougher due to the rising temperatures.  We had to stay as high as possible above the lake, because this area is very exposed to avalanches.  Tired after a long traverse we started to eat on a lonely rock with some older French.

tired already...

We all thought that the last part would be easy, but our guide kept himself quiet.  After a steep climb we arrived at a glacier which felt like the white Sahara.  Everybody was warm and thirsty.  At 2.30 pm we arrived at the hut where everybody had to repair his blisters.  Cabane des Dix is once again a very nice hut, it was fully booked with lots of skiers from Arolla.

our deserved rest view on the Tsena Réfien glacier

day 5    top

We woke up with bad weather...  Leaving almost as last from the hut we arrived at the Tsena Réfien glacier.  All the weekend ski mountaineers, that had left early already came down.  The wind was blowing in a range from 60 to 80 Km an hour and the temperature was -15.  Somehow we did not feel like skiing down and we just continued in this very dangerous weather.  Reaching the col de la Serpentine at 3500 m went ok and just after that we had to take off our ski's and we had to put on crampons on our boots.  Being short roped in a group of 6 is not easy, a couple of us had no experience with it.  Skiing down the Vuibe glacier was hard, but seeing the cabane des Vignettes was just like the opening scene of a James Bond movie.  We had to pas the little ridge in front of the cabane.  Luckily we came in safe and once again with the old French.

dangerous route for a leak... some of us had frozen parts in their faces

Early in the evening the final call was made.  The guides (our and a guide from Chamonix) told us that it was too dangerous to try to reach Zermatt the next day.  Good reason for us to drink some Grapa's and play cards.  

the french drawed the same conclusions group photo

Tim lost the card game and had to sit 5 minutes in the dark in that very user friendly toilet.  Doing your needs with 80 Km of wind in your butt is really a whole new dimension.

(...) (...)

day 6    top

What was going to be the most beautiful day ended in a descent to Arolla.  It took us a small hour to reach the café.  Haute route 2000 ended in Arolla.  

lovely view from Arolla... big hangover

A couple of hours later we arrived at Sion.  Tim's girlfriend who was waiting in Zermatt bought some t-shirts of the Matterhorn for us to cheer us up.  All together we had a great 6 days, we will continue trying to reach Zermatt.


Copyright dvd 2000