Route 2001 'la route classique'
May 8 2001
Col du Chardonnet
Skiing down to the Argentière glacier (2600m) was not too hard, although the sun made the snow very wet and hard. After a 700 meter descend we traversed the glacier without skins to conquer our first col. The Col du Chardonnet (3323m) climb was quite easy last year, so we were not to worried.
Conditions were icy and forced us to put our crampons on our bindings. After half an hour our hart rate was beating like hell... This was much tougher than we thought (so maybe next time the Argentière hut is better). It felt hard to be overtaken by a woman.. Anyway we got a good sunburn and arrived at one o'clock on the col. Last year we descended the col with a rope, this year we skied it down. The ascent of the Fenetre de Saleina (3261m) was done on skins, our guide made a nice path.
Traversing the Plateau du Trient was relaxed and the final climb of 50m went smooth. The Cabane du Trient is a really nice hut. I give them 4 out of 5 stars.
The Cabane du Trient is a really nice hut. I give them 4.5 out of 5 stars.
day 2 top
May 9 2001
Wow, the snow was really good (icy, but with 2cm of fresh snow) and we descended to the first chalets at 2260m. Unfortunately we could not descent to Champex, because there was just no snow... but our guide arranged a taxi the night before. So with another group we drove to Orsières (1000m) where we did some shopping.
The taxi drove to Bourg st Pierre and it was planned to drive to about 1800m. However the Swiss Army had setup a roadblock, because it was busy with artillery shots (80mm and more). The local army commander of probably the 10th Swiss Mountain Rangers let us through after 20min of waiting. After the nice taxi ride we prepared ourselves for a walk with the ski's on our back.
At 2000m we put on our skins and continued the way we should, but once again there was an obstacle, the gorge.
Once we passed the gorge, the final ascent to cabane de Valsorey 3037m would begin. This is a long, long climb if you're not trained.
The hut guardian welcomed us with some hot drinks. The views from this hut are excellent, the food was quite good too. Among the guests was one guy that did the Chamonix Zermatt trip with a parapente and ski's in 2 days. Most other parties were almost professional, they would skip cabane de Chanrion and would go directly to cabane des Vignettes the next day. HR hut rating: 4 out of 5.
day 3 top
Peter Cliff describes this day as the big day in the classical Haute Route. The Plateau du Couloir 3664m can make or brake this tour. This passage was only conquered in 1911 by Marcel Kurz and prof. Roget. The night before our guide told us already that the conditions were perfect, so we left around 6 in the morning on skins. In the middle of our climb the slope became to steep an we had to put on our crampons.
It was a good hard climb to the Plateau, but we all had a nice time. Our first little descent on ski's was only 100m vertical. We traversed to Sonadon glacier very quickly and hiked up 50m on our ski's to pass the col du Sonadon 3504m. The glacier Mont Durand gave us an 800m vertical descent, down the glacier the snow was very heavy. 2hrs before we passed a big avalanche came down.
The last climb of the days was not that hard. It took us about 30 min. We arrived early at cabane de Chanrion 2462m
The Chanrion hut is not that special, although it has lot's of free water and a big terrace. The guardian did not bring the atmosphere that you will find in other huts. HR hut rating 3 out of 5.
day 4 top
The fourth day we had to choose our route to cabane des Vignettes. Either the long, flat and boring Otemma glacier or via the Brenay glacier. We chose for the last option which meant that the Brenay icefall and the Pigne d'Arolla had to be conquered. We left early at 5 AM for this long day. The walk on skins to the Brenay icefall took some time, but it was great to be alone on the glacier.
First we tried to attack the icefall on the left side with our ski's on. But the slope was to icy, so they only option was to walk up. The sun came up just after having conquered the icefall
After the icefall it was still a pretty long climb to the Pigne d'Arolla. 30 minutes under the Pigne we had our daily 'casse croute'
After lunch when we went to the col the clouds arrived... Luc and Simmie than climbed the Pigne d'Arolla 3796m without backpack.
Like last year we had to descend the Vuibe glacier in a white out. Arriving at the Vignettes is always spectacular. This hut got the highest rating because they offered us an apple pie. HR hut rating 4.5 out of 5.
day 5 top
After the Vignettes hut we could have chosen to do Zermatt in one day. But as real tourists we planned a stop at cabane de Bertol. This meant a climb to Col de L'éveque 3392m, a nice descent on the Arolla glacier to Plans de Bertol and a last climb to the hut.
We first had a long schuss from the hut and skinned our ski's. This was only a short climb of 400 meters vertical over the Mont Collon glacier.
It's a beautiful day....
Following on this second break was a descent on the Arolla glacier. The glacier was icy with a soft upper layer. When we arrived at Plans de Bertol we heard the first helicopters flying toward the Pigne d'Arolla, I think this should be stopped. At plans de Bertol we skinned our ski's for the last +/- 700m climb. Somewhere in the middle we relaxed in this white desert.
The climb was pretty ok and we arrived early in the on the col. For the first time we could see the Matterhorn. This is also the place where you can find the memorial for the Swiss colonel that started the Patrouille des Glacier (see their website).
Now the Bertol hut is a little bit higher on the rocks so you have to take the new stairs to arrive at the hut.
Inside we ordered beers and rosti and chilled in the afternoon. Later we found out that there was no toilet paper.... Although it was the last open day of this hut, we have to downgrade the hut with an extra one star. HR hut rating is 3 out 5. (the food and wine were ok). The 2 pics below show the Alpengluhe, which is fantastic here.
day 6 top
The last day would be the most
relaxed day, about 500m of climbing and a long ski trip to Zermatt. We
started off relaxed, leaving almost as last the hut. Within 2 hrs we
were on top of the Tete Blanche 3724m.
Because it was one of
the last weekends of the season it was quite crowded on top of the Tete
And the obligatory
We descended on ski
over the Stockli glacier, which was icy but again with a soft upper layer.
Luc managed to find this nice couloir in the middle of the glacier, the
snow was already becoming heavy. Around 2600m it was warm finally at 2200m
at Staffelalp we had to take our ski's off.
We walked down over
the road down from the dam (near Zmutt) and 2 minutes later we were picked
up by some tourskiers from Zermatt that came down with their electrical
car. We drove to Furi and had a beer with them. They dropped us off in upper
Zermatt. I must say this was a great week, it was not crowded in the huts
and the weather was perfect.
Copyright dvd 2001/2002