Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route, Mont Vélan • April 22 - 29, 2010

Our second Haute Route this year, via the Plateau du Couloir with a side trip up Mont Vélan, closely followed the eruption of the volcano in Iceland that grounded all flights to and from Europe for several days. A couple of our participants being unable to join us as planned, we had a rather intimate group. Thomas Kral of Ottowa, New Yorker Lawrence Cutler, and Adina Roskies of New Hampshire, managed to make it through the volcano gauntlet.

Other Trips with some of these folks

Thomas - Berner Oberland - May 2007
Lawrence - Cham off-piste - Feb 2009

Return to all recent trip

From left to right: Thomas, Adina, Lawrence, and Mark


Day one, the long trek up toward the Col du Chardonnet.


Descending fixed lines on the back side of the col.


Climb number two on this day; the Fenêtre de Saleina.


The Trient hut in the morning light, day three.


Early risers head out in the opposite direction, toward the Glacier des Grands or maybe the Aiguille du Tour.


We top out early on the Col des Ecandies.


After a quick ride down the Val d'Arpette and taxi transfer to the trailhead above Bourg Saint Pierre, we hike up the trail beside the Torrent de Valsorey.


We reached the Cabane du Vélan around lunchtime. Here we see the hut in the early morning, as we get ready to head out by headlamp for our climb of Mont Vélan.


An hour or so later, we approach the "crux" of the route, a technical crossing of a the Arête de la Gouille.


We descend the south side of the Arête and are back on easier ground. The Grand Combin in the background.


Continuing up the higher section of the Glacier de Valsorey toward the summit of Mont Vélan.


An exceedingly long climb back up to the Valsorey hut finished our Mont Vélan day. Here, the following morning, again by headlamp we prepare to leave the Valsorey hut.


Skinning toward the Plateau du Couloir as dawn breaks.


As usual the Plateau du Couloir requires booting with crampons up the steep slopes. Very good tracks help make this section easier.


A foggy descent down the Glacier du Mont Durand brought us early in the afternoon to the Cabane de Chanrion, in time for rösti!!!


"Another day, another dolor", we are off the next morning over Les Portons, en route to the Pigne d'Arolla. Weather and conditions are lovely so far.


Getting over the Col Nord des Portons and onto the upper Glacier du Brenay required a bit of rock climbing in crampons, skis on back.


Our day ended at the comfortable and welcoming Cabane des Vignettes, here seen in the early morning of our last day on the trail.


The light coming up as we tackle the first frozen slopes below the hut.


Still early as we reach the Col de l'Evêque.


Heading up the Col du Mont Brulé. Contrails from some fighter-jet training look like a crazy ride.


We got our views of the Matterhorn this time from the Col de Valpelline.


Although very hot, the snow held up beautifully for the long descent toward Zermatt.


But there was no longer enough to ski all the way to Zermatt. We download from Furi.


Next day, it's one more time over the Schwarztor! We know we're squeaking it in a bit late in the season, but we can't resist. Pollux in the background.


Snow conditions mostly reward us (powder up high, then corn to slush below, ending in glop!), as well as the usual outlandish situations and phenomenal views.


Checking out the line through an icefall section, the Matterhorn over our shoulders.


We had to work a bit at the exit this time, fording streams and hiking up over a rocky ridge. All part of the "fun"!


And excellent justification for a bit of indulgence to cap off a hard week's achievement! Bon appetit!