Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route • April 2002

This was our last Haute Route of the season, and also very successful. On this trip we joined Marcus Gallie and Alan Durfee. As with the previous, did the Classic route over the Grand Combin.

Other Recent Trips

Marcus on the Plateau du Couloir.

Alan, at the same place.


Alan and Marcus, and another group behind, cross a narrow fin of ice to negotiate a crevasse. This was our first day, skiing the Vallée Blanche.


Lower on the Vallée Blanche, with the Géant icefall below us. You can see the gently sloping ice of the Mer de Glace in the valley, where we are heading.


On day one of the actual tour, we had difficult weather, using GPS, map, compass and altimeter for much of the way. Here in a rare break we can see the Col du Chardonnet, the steep gully leading to the notch. We descended this gully with the aid of a rope.


The next day, day two, we skied down the Val d'Arpette, On this very low snow year, we began to run a bit short at the end as we descended in to Champex.


From Champex, the bus ferries us to Bourg-St-Pierre, a sleepy little town most famous for being stiffed by Napoleon some years ago. More recently the French government settled the dispute over payment of the bill by offering a bronze plaque commemorating the event, and expressing appreciation for the "generosity" the local inhabitants "offered" the opportunistic General.


On the following day, day three of the tour, we skied up to the Cabane de Valsorey.


And on the next day, day four, we climbed steeply up and over the Plateau du Couloir, over the Col de Sonadon, and then down the Glacier du Mont Durand to the Chanrion hut. Here, we are at the Col du Sonadon. Mont Blanc is in the background.


The Cabane de Chanrion, arguably the nicest hut on this route.


The moon setting over Mont Avril, from the front porch of the Chanrion hut.


On day five, we ski from the Cabane de Chanrion to the Cabane des Vignettes. In this photo we are perhaps a couple hours out of the Chanrion hut, looking back to the west. The Grand Combin is just out of view to the right.


Later in the day we cross the Col Nord des Portons, a short steep section we climbed on foot.


And later still, we climb toward the Col du Brenay, just below the Pigne d'Arolla. The Pigne, at 12,450 feet above sea level, is the highest point of the tour.


The following day we ski all the way to Zermatt. Starting early, we first cross the Col de l'Evêque, seen here, then the Col du Mont Brulé, and finally the Col de Valpelline before the final descent into Zermatt.


Alan topping out on the Col du Mont Brulé. We carried our skis up the steep slope, hidden from view.


And finally, we run out of snow on the lower end of the Zmuttgletscher.


Because we had kept to our planned itinerary, we had our extra weather day to enjoy skiing in the Zermatt area. So we're off to do the Schwartztor, a tour starting with a ride to the top of the Klein Matterhorn.

Not far below the Schwartztor, we stop to enjoy the view.


The view from the upper Schwärzegletscher The peaks behind are, from left to right, the Alphubel, Rimpfischhorn and the Strahlhorn.


Lower down the glacier gets complicated and the best way through involves a steep side slip into this crevasse. Another belayed section over another small crevasse leads to easier going.

Here is a view looking up the side slip crevasse.


Lower, skis back on the feet, we ski among the ice towers.


....and more open skiing on the lower glacier.


Lunch on a boulder on the edge of the Gornergletscher. The Ober Gabelhorn and the Zinal Rothorn are the peaks behind.


Exiting the toe of the Gornergletscher is an interesting affair. A bit of walking and rock scrambling, and hand over hand down fixed ropes, led us to easier terrain.

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