Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route glacier trek • July 22 - 28, 2012

Joining Kathy this year on her Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route, were three new friends; Jane and Jules Summerfield and Aaron Copp, as well one old friend, Susan Lowery.

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Here we all are at the Vignettes hut, if not looking our absolute best, still feeling pretty good on day 3. From left to right: Jules, Susan, Kathy, Aaron, and Jane.


Our trek began above the village of Le Tour. Starting along the trail we have a magnificent view down the Chamonix valley to Mont Blanc.

Nearing the Tour Glacier, with the Aiguille du Chardonnet behind left, the Aiguille Verte and Les Drus to the right.

Our first day was a big one, over the 3200+ meter Col Supérieure du Tour, to the Orny hut. On day 2, we headed to the Chanrion hut. Jane and Jules pause at our high point of this day, the Col de Tsofeiret.

The Chanrion hut, our next port of call.

Day three turned out to be better weather than it appeared in the wee hours of dawn, here we are about halfway up the Otemma Glacier.

A bit of steepish snow and loose rocks to negotiate en route to the Vignettes hut.

Stormy weather over the peaks, making for dramatic views from the Vignettes hut.

The next morning we had only a relatively short downhill hike to Arolla, and a well-earned bit of relaxation. Approaching the Arolla pine forest, with Mont Collon in the background.

Enjoying the little pleasures, in anticipation almost as much as in fact. Drinks in the garden of the Grand Hotel Kurhaus.

On the morning of day 5, we head up toward the Bertol hut. A brightly painted statue of the Virgin looks out over the trail, which at this point passes below elaborate tunnels and bulwarks connected to the vaste Dixence water distribution and power system.

Our trail here converges with a short section of the "Tour du Cervin", or the Matterhorn circuit trail. This popular route was opened up officially ten years ago, so lots of "pilgrims" were celebrating its anniversary.

Once back up among the eternal snows, Jane and Jules pause for a photo. The Pigne d'Arolla behind.

The famously vertiginous location of the Bertol hut makes the approach rather exciting. Halfway up the cliff ladders now...

Our reward is a grand view over the Glacier du Mont Miné. On the left is the Dent Blanche; on the right the Matterhorn has ducked behind a cloud, the Dent d'Hérens just visible at the edge of this shot.

Apéritif hour on the terrace of the Bertol hut.

The next morning starts with a bang as we have to descend still more vertiginous ladders to the Mont Miné glacier. Our hut-mates look like tiny ants at the base of the cliff.

The reverse view, we being the tiny ants now looking back at our haven of the night before.

Our route this day takes us over the summit of the Tête Blanche. Dent d'Hérens in the background here.

The gang, on top of the Tête Blanche.

Starting down the Stockji glacier, with the Dent Blanche, Zinalrothorn, and many more giants of the Pennine Alps in the background. Zermatt is down in the curve of the valley in the middle right distance.

Exiting the glacier.

After negotiating the Stockji (the rock outcrop on the left in this photo) and the maze of boulders on the Schönbiel glacier, we are back up in the alpine meadows and almost done with this day's stage.

At the hut at last! The Matterhorn is flying its "flag" of cloud today, portending a change in the weather.

Jules has his priorities sorted out.

It had to happen some time; our spate of near-perfect weather finally ended abruptly with torrential rain and cracking thunderstorms as we left the hut behind on our last morning. Oh well, if it had to happen any day, this is the best one as we'll have hot showers and clean dry clothes to change into at the end of our walk.

As it happened however the sun came back out to welcome us into Zmutt. It was hot and tropical by the time we got to Zermatt, around noon.

A small post-script: as we were in town early in the day, we decided to take in a quick tour on the Gorner Gorge Adventure! Suited up with our via ferrata kit for the departure.

The rain was back as we clambered above the raging waters of the gorge. An exciting way to end a fun week. Thanks to all the crew!