Summer "High Level" Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt • July 16 - 22, 2010

Kathy led a Chamonix to Zermatt High Level Route glacier trek this July. She was joined by some new friends and several old ones, and in addition to the excellent company the week was blessed with nearly perfect weather!

Other recent trips with some of these folks

Chris Robinson
Cosmiques Arete, July 2010
Dolomite skiing, March 2009
Ortler skiing, April 2008
Stubai skiing, March 2008
Silvretta skiing, March 2007
Ötztal skiing, April 2005
Ortler skiing, April 2004

Minx Fuller
Alps 2009
Kyajo Ri Expedition, October 2007

Elizabeth Moceri
Alps 2009
Dolomite skiing. March 2009
Ortler skiing. April 2008
Stubai skiing. March 2008
Alps climbing. August 2007
Silvretta skiing. March 2007
Alps climbing. July 2005
Ötztal skiing. April 2005
Ortler skiing. April 2004
Mount Kenya. September 2002
Berner skiing. May 2002
Cho Oyu Expedition. Ooctober 2001

Return to all recent trips

Heather and Mike Bishop flew over from Calgary AB;


Chris Robinson (right) has skiied with us around the Alps for years, his brother John joined him this time;

Minx Fuller;

And Elizabeth Moceri.

We started our week by heading toward the Col de Balme, at the head of the Chamonix valley. A clear view of Mont Blanc gives us a great send-off.

The spectacularly situated trail skirts around steep ridges to eventually gain the edge of the Tour Glacier. The Aiguille de Chardonnet in the background.

After lunch we headed out onto the glacier to practice some of the procedures we'll use as we travel roped together during the coming days.

Our first dinner on the "trail" together at the Albert Premier hut.

The following morning dawns clear (or mostly so) and we head across the glacier past the Aiguille de Chardonnet.

The clouds built a bit ominously as we tagged the summit of the Tête Blanche before descending across the border into Switzerland.

Afternoon thunder storms chased us into our second hut, the Cabane d'Orny. However the following morning dawned clear. Minx captures a photo of the very accommodating hut mascott, a metal-sculpted ibex.

Our hike down to the chairlift at La Breya brought us into the slowly dissipating valley fog. The Grand Combin just visible as we dive in.

Around every corner of the steep and sinuous trail, yet another stony buttress took mysterious shape in the fog.

We had a treat ahead of us on this day; gazillions of wild flowers! This suspected Martagon lily is a somewhat unusual sight.

From Champex a taxi transferred us to the Mauvoisin dam, whence this photo was taken. Torrents of piped-in spring melt water work hard to fill the lake at this season of the year.

The trail traverses high, lush meadows full of life and flowers. Along the way were orchids...


Of course the iconic Edelweiss...

And even a camera-shy toad!

The constant shift back and forth in focus, up for the views and down for the flowers, nearly caused some whiplash.

A different view of the Grand Combin as we leave the lake far behind.

We're very grateful for this bridge across the raging glacier-fed stream, without which we'd have miles to detour.

A last pause at the Col de Tsofeiret before the final descent to the hut.

Heather anticipates a cold drink on the terrace of the Chanrion hut.

The next morning dawned clear yet again for our longest day of the trip; to Arolla! A growing crescent moon rises over the Mont Gelé as we start out.

After an hour or so of walking on the rubble left behind by the receding Otemma Glacier, we prepare to set foot on the ice.

Which goes on and on and on and on! It's "just around the corner now"!

But all things pass with time, including the Otemma Glacier! Minx escapes its clutches at last, and looks forward to a wee rest and a bite to eat at the Vignettes hut.

Perched high above the valley, the hut was a welcome sight. However, our next night's hut being across the way in a Col at nearly the same elevation (too small to make out but just in front of the Dent Blanche in this photo), we all wished for a zip-line to just take us across.

However that would have deprived us of our eagerly awaited showers and "real" beds in Arolla. So down we went for another 1000 meters...

To land gratefully here. First on the to-do list: off with the boots!

Next item: cool drinks in shady garden!

Then a bit of exploration of this grand old hotel: the Kurhaus Arolla, beautifully preserved and renovated, and very welcoming to climbers and trekkers!

The beautifully appointed and light-filled dining room...

And the cozy sitting room where we enjoyed a piano concert after dinner! What a contrast to the dusty trail.

The next morning, after a bit of a lie-in and a relaxed breakfast, we reluctantly bid good-bye to our Arolla idyll...

... and head up the trail to the Bertol hut.

Pausing for a breather we are indeed almost back up to the elevation of the Vignettes hut across the way.

Once again, we're almost there now! Really!

Gaining the ridge below the hut,

The last obstacle is a series of steep ladders.

And our reward, the audaciously perched Bertol hut.

A well-earned lunch in the roomy lighthouse-shaped dining room, makes the long climb worthwhile.

The next morning, the sun rises over the shoulder of the Dent Blanche.

Clouds moving in and out as the morning gets under way.

But it socked right in toward the summit of the Tête Blanche (our second Tête Blanche of the trip).

We got some sunny breaks and peek-a-boo views on the summit of Tête Blanche number two.

After a glacier descent spiked with the occasional loooong step (leap?) over crevasses, we climb down off the last bit of glacier ice near the Stockji.

The fun's not over; we still have plenty of steep down-scrambling to do on the Stockji before we reach the Zmutt Glacier.

Ooff! Though still steep, this part of the trail seems easy after the loosey goosey boulders and steep moraine rubble we battled through below. But now we really are almost there, REALLY...

At last, thar she blows, the Schonbiel hut!

Great views from the sunny terrace, across the Zmutt Glacier to the Matterhorn.

The next day, our last, we enjoyed a leisurely walk in to Zermatt, with plenty of time for some shopping and a delicious "Surprise Me!" celebratory dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant, joined by Mark! Oh my this ravioli was even better than it looks!

It's always sad to break up the party, but we hope our paths will cross again before too long. Until then, Ciao!