Searching for sun in Zermatt and Chamonix • April 25 - 29, 2013

Fred Larke and John Lashbrook, both from Colorado, came over for a ski adventure this Spring. We did indeed have an adventure! Though little of it corresponded to the itinerary we had planned, taking in various peaks between Zermatt and Saas Fee. Once again the weather intervened, as it has so often this season. But we managed to have some good times among the showers.

Other Trips with Fred

Berner Oberland, May 2012
Queyras - February 2011
Chamonix to Zermatt - April 2010
Chamonix to Zermatt - April 2009
Stubai - March 2008
Silvretta - March 2008
Berner Oberland - May 2007
Ortler - April 2006
Chamonix to Zermatt - April 2005

Other Trips with John

Berner Oberland, May 2008
Haute Route, April 2008
Ortler, April 2006
Ötztal, April 2005

Return to all recent trips


We moved our departure ahead by a day to take advantage of one good day forecast for the week! We made good use of it, skiing the Breithorn, then down the Schwarztor, to the Monte Rosa hut. The following day we had planned to ski the Monte Rosa, by the route shown here.


On top of the Breithorn in beautiful weather, it's hard to believe a storm is coming in.


On the Schwarztor, the fresh snow is holding up well in places only those equipped with skins will get to.


At the bottom of our run, we contemplate the skin up to the Monte Rosa hut, shown in the left of this photo.


Quite a jumbled section of glacier to negotiate, keeping us awake.


The space age new Monte Rosa hut! Very impressive.


The evening view from the hut; evidence of the weather to come.


The next morning we got an alpine start on the day, to see if we could outrun the worst of the weather.


It's nice to be out in the blue dawn! But sure enough, here come the clouds and squalls.


Ultimately we renounced the effort, not only because of the coming weather and deteriorating visibility, but the snow really needed some heat to soften it up. On the descent, we managed to stitch together south facing slopes where the crust held body weight.


After a long day of battling the elements, we take a break beside the piste as we near Zermatt once more.


The following day had the worst forecast. We decided to limit our ambitions to getting to the Britannia hut by hook or by crook, and see what the morrow would allow. The rain picked up at the Stalden train station as we awaited the bus. John is not letting it get him down!


Drip. Drop.


Mark gets artsy with a poster in a window (the rest of us never did figure out how ... what ... the ... ???)


Cooling our heels in a Saas Fee restaurant awaiting the cable car departure, John looks like he ordered a REALLY tall one!


The short journey from the top of the Felskinn lift to the Britannia hut (shown here in reverse the next morning) was so windy and stormy that we didn't even have the heart to get out our cameras, though that would have been amusing. We battled our way to the hut in time for dinner, in the company of exactly four other hopeful souls.


The following morning we fell for the "sucker hole", and headed out to check conditions for an attempt on the Fluchthorn. It being into the strong south wind (and storm), we finally saw sense and headed in the opposite direction, back to town.


We did get some nice fresh wind-buffed snow as a reward!


Heading down, the squalls blowing by in all directions.


John making the best of the situation again! Tea time in Saas Fee!


Things could be worse.


Given continued storms in the forecast, we headed to Chamonix to see if a day tour or two might prove possible. The Grands Montets is still open for another week, so we got to the top despite yet more high winds.


Skiing down to the Argentière glacier in strong gusts.


Yet another challenge, "la poudreuse du Sahara"! Sand storms from the Sahara have brought a fine powdery dusting of yellow grit and deposited it during recent snowfalls onto the surface of the snow. This is draggy and quite hard to ski!


But we managed!


Once again wearying of our struggle into the teeth of the foehn wind, we took a detour from our day's plan to have a pleasant lunch at the Argentière hut.


After lunch we battled on for an hour or so...


And then descended once more into the sunshine, and a sudden warming of Spring. Wow, what a ride! Thanks to Fred and John for their perseverance and good cheer in the face of a very challenging few days!

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