Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route via Plateau du Couloir • April 18 - 25, 2016

To close out our ski mountaineering season, we returned to the Plateau du Couloir/Mont Vélan version of the Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route, a variation we haven't done in a few years. Joining us were Mike and Tom Demshki, Jeff and Nancy Ray, and Terry Fisher.

Other Trips with some of these folks

Nancy and Jeff

Gran Paradiso ski tour - April 2016
Summer Haute Route - July 2014
Albula - March 2014
Chamonix to Zermatt, April 2003

Terry Fisher

Vanoise - March 2015
Silvretta - March 2014
Albula - March 2013
Berner Oberland - May 2008
Haute Route - April 2007

Return to all recent trips


Our first day was meant to be a Vallée Blanche day. The forecast was iffy, but we saw a weather break and scrambled to get up the Aiguille du Midi.


The weather break did not last, so an hour or so later we were in a blizzard at the top of the Grands Montets instead! We did ski some good snow, but navigated mostly by feel.


The following day by contrast, was gorgeous! Due to a constricted schedule after the hurly burly of the Grands Montets on a powder day, we opted to get to the Trient hut via the Col du Passon. Boot packing up the steep moraine above the Argentière glacier.


And again, in the Couloir of the Col du Passon.


Approaching the Col Supérieur du Tour.


The morning after also dawned beautiful and clear as we left the Trient hut.


Morning light on the Aiguille du Tour.


Great conditions on the Col des Ecandies.


Brothers Mike and Tom top out in the morning sunshine.


Getting ready for the long glide down the Val d'Arpette.


Unexpectedly good snow was to be had!


Arriving in Champex.


After a taxi transfer to the pastures above Bourg Saint Pierre, we regain the snow line once more after about a 2 hour walk on trails.


Arriving at the dramatic Vélan hut!


Terry joined us late that evening, having made his way from Boston that morning! Intrepid soul...


Our Mont Vélan summit day dawns pink and glowing.


Conditions and weather look good as we approach the Col de la Gouille.


And the technical difficulties begin! This is definitely the "mountaineering" portion of "ski mountaineering".


Descending the back side of the Col, while easier, is still steep and sloppy snow in the warm mid morning sun.


On the summit!


The steep col we descended must have demanded all of our attention, no photos of that. But lower down, we carefully picked our aspect to find stashes of buttery Spring snow.


Then the endless skin up to the Valsorey hut...


Which voici, the following morning as we begin our climb of the Plateau du Couloir.


Approaching the steep slopes.


Topping out at last, we skied down to the Sonadon Glacier.


Descending the Glacier du Mont Durand.


More nice Spring snow! Easier to find here.


Lower down on the glacier.


Leaving the glacier, with Pointe d'Otemma in the distance.


The "drying room" at the Chanrion hut!


The following day, multiple issues of both weather and health forced a conservative decision to continue to the Vignettes hut via the Otemma glacier. Heading off in a blizzard, which though warm and calm, intensified near the goal.


Arrival at the Vignettes hut.


The following day was not propitious for continuing on to Zermatt as planned! We descended to Arolla instead. Leaving the hut in winter conditions.


White-out navigation was the name of the game.


Safely on the bus, we're headed to Zermatt or bust!


With our "spare" day in Zermatt, skiing options were both limited and made less attractive by a fierce cold wind and poor visibility up high. We opted instead to entertain ourselves on the "Gorge Adventure"!


Winter conditions in the Gorge!


But oh, what fun!


Kudos to the creative sense of humor of the Zermatt guides who put this route together!


Walking the plank.


And zip lines, zowee!


So nice to have this scenic and engaging playground for bad weather days.


Spring is arriving in the alpine meadows!


Although winter remains in the high peaks. Thank you Jeff, Nancy, Terry, Tom and Mike for joining us in this adventure.

Your Comments - more info
comments powered by Disqus