Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route • April 14 - 21, 2018

Haute Route 2018! We had a strong line-up of good skiers for this year's odyssey from Chamonix to Zermatt; a group of close buddies from the San Francisco Bay area and a Montana veterinarian. We also had a near perfect weather forecast, if you exclude a few moments of unseasonable heat!

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From left to right: Emily Ritter, Laura Kreitler, Mark, Bill Magrath, Kathy, Bill Brown and Laura West.


Day one as always, we headed up the Aiguille du Midi for a shakedown day on the Vallée Blanche.


Moseying down the zigzag path off the ridge.


We opted to descend via the "Vrai" Vallée Blanche with its landscape of dramatic glacier features.


On day two, we skinned up to the Argentière hut.


Before dinner, an evening lounge in the sun.


Early in the morning, day three sees us booting up steep slopes toward the Col du Chardonnet.


A party behind us as the sun moves higher in the sky.


From the Col, the obligatory rappel down the steep back side.


And then some nice corn snow as a reward!


Drifting down our last gentle descent toward the Trient hut among lingering valley clouds.


The panorama from the hut; use the scroll bar for the full view.


A dramatic sunset portending a nice day to follow.


The morning of day four dawned clear and cool. We started early by headlamp to allow time for the distance and various transitions of this long day.


After a short steep boot pack up the Col des Ecandies, the sunrise warms us.


And cheers us!


Heading down the Val d'Arpette, the snow started off a bit rough!


Further down it was smoother sailing.


After various shenanigans in Verbier, we had another skin over cols to the Prafleuri hut. Here we are at the Col de Momin, en route.


A welcoming pot of herbal tea greets us at the Prafleuri hut.


Another pre-dawn start from the hut, we have the long traverse above Lac Dix to negotiate while the morning remains cool, and also an unusual obstacle, the famous randonnée race, the Patrouille des Glaciers, will be crossing our path this morning, heading in the opposite direction! We want to cross them at a convenient time and place.


Avoiding the path of the racers (tiny ants below us in this shot), we negotiate frozen avalanche debris as best we can.


More racers, exerting themselves as they head for the final climb!


After a pleasant night at the Dix hut, on the morning of day six, we get our first real glimpse of the Matterhorn (among Laura's poles).


Approaching the intimidating "Serpentine".


Today's conditions were perfect for climbing with the boot crampons.


The views from the top of the Serpentine.


And from the top of the Pigne d'Arolla! Our highest point on the trip. It's all downhill from here (well, actually not...).


Day 7, our last of the trek, we again leave by headlamp to beat the heat on this long crossing.


The beautiful pre-dawn light!


Skinning up for the first climb.


At the top of the Col du Mont Brulé, our second climb of the day.


And after our third and last climb, the Col de Valpelline, it really IS all downhill from here. A happy moment.


Ripping the skins for the last time of the voyage.


We enjoy some fun soft snow on the descent.


Just in time!


Skiing down the Stockji Glacier in the shadow of the Matterhorn is always a bit slow ...


There are just too many irresistible photo opportunities on a perfect bluebird day like this one was.


Bill Senior enjoys the snow.


More photo opps...


Taking a somewhat less travelled route near the Stockji.


And still more.


At long last we reach the "flesh pots" of Furi, conveniently at lunchtime.


Ooooohhh! Cheeeeezeeee!


As we like to do when we get into Zermatt with our weather day unused, we spent our day 8 doing a final tour from the ski area. The Breithorn was in good "nick", so we tagged that!


Great corn conditions on the upper glacier.


And of course the Matterhorn as a backdrop!


Fine turns in fine snow as we head out the bottom of the descent.


But wait! There's more! A long glide down the Gornergletscher.


A perfect note on which to end a really fun week. Thank you team! We hope you enjoyed the week as much as we did, and that we WILL see you all again.

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