Haute Route glacier trek • July 27 - August 3, 2015

Kathy's second, and final Haute Route Glacier Trek this year was with a group of friends from the U.S., Jason and Allison Ng, and Jennifer Su Nishinaga and Brian Nishinaga.

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From left to right: Jason, Allson, Brian, and Jen, all bundled up as our first morning turned out to be cool, a very unusual occurrence this year!


After an hour or so of hiking on a precipitous, but good trail, the going gets rougher below the Albert Premier hut.


At last we set foot on the glacier itself, passing below the Aiguille du Tour.


Nearing the Col Supérieure du Tour, with teh Aiguille de Chardonnet behind.


And Jason gives Jen a hand as we pass over the col and into Switzerland.


Leaving France behind, we descend the Trient plateau.


We exit the glacier a few minutes above our first hut, the Cabane d'Orny.


Later, at the hut, a view back up at the way we came from.


The Cabane d'Orny after dinner.


The view of the bare glacier ice from near the hut.


Sunset on the Grand Combin.


The following morning dawns clear up high, with vestiges of valley fog in the lowlands.


The hike down from the hut is quite exposed in places, the fog mercifully hiding most of the drop below.


The second half of our day was spent hiking up from the Mauvoisin dam to the Chanrion hut, through lush meadows which we shared with a large herd of these ladies, the famous "fighting cows" of the Alps. Although lean and mean, these combative cows are not aggressive to humans. This one seemed positively bored by our presence. Still, their sheer numbers and size were nevertheless a bit intimidating as cautiously pushed our way through the herd.


After a long walk up and over the Col de Tsofeiret, we are almost to the Chanrion hut now.


A refreshing dip in the nearby lake, and a sunny terrace, await us there. These friends share photographs and a bottle of something chilled.


Sunset and moonrise from the hut.


The next day was forecast to be rather rainy. That, and some temporary health issues had us changing our plan and heading to the Vignettes hut directly, via the Otemma Glacier. Leaving the hut in the damp morning.


Rounding a corner, the toe of the mighty Otemma Glacier comes into view. It has receded noticeably in recent years.


We set foot on the ice at last.


And a couple of hours later, we're still at it! Depleted or not, this is still one long and massive glacier!


By the time we got to the steeper ground just below the hut, the rain had arrived in earnest.


It was a relief to get inside where it was warm and dry.


The following morning dawned brilliant and clear again.


Perfect weather for our plan to climb the Pigne d'Arolla, at 3790m our high point of the week.


A cold breeze greeted us for our last steps to the summit..


On the top! Clear skies and a great view of the peaks to the east, including the Matterhorn on the far left.


We felt we'd earned a real reward, in the form of a cheese-intensive hot lunch back at the hut.


The following morning we headed down for a semi-rest day in town, namely in Arolla. Down through the meadows.


Kathy's favorite hotel, the Kurhaus, looks especially inviting on this sunny day. The view from the garden back up to our "scene of triumph" of the day before, the Pigne d'Arolla gleaming above.


Enjoying a bit of lunch in town.


The next day, the rain was back. Jen and Allison had some fairly serious foot problems and other strong reasons not to continue, so they set out for Zermatt by bus and train, while Brian and Jason continued on with Kathy to the Bertol hut.


We arrived at the Bertol hut just before the serious snowstorm.


By dawn, the skies were clear once more, and the mountains glowing in the light of a full moon.


Starting out at first light from below the hut.


Sunrise pinks up the cloud as we work our way up the glacier.


Another high point! The Tête Blanche, as the day gets hot already. Time to get down the glacier.


We have plenty of these guys to contend with, and the snow edging and bridging them is getting softer by the hour. But still quite passable.


Once off the glacier, we have some steep rock to negotiate on the "Stockji"...


And lower down on the moraine, the "fun" is still not over!


But at last we are safely back at the Schonbiel hut, looking back up at the enormous distance we've traveled only this morning. Well done!


Just 3 more hours on the trail, and we'll be reunited with Allison and Jen, and ready for a farewell dinner and a deep sleep. Great efforts, by all the Ng/Nishinaga team! Thank you for sharing the trail with me.

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