Tour du Ciel • April 22 - 28, 2019

We did a "new" route (for us) this year, the "Tour du Ciel". As usual this year, we did have to alter and adjust multiple times to deal with weather. In this case, quite dramatic weather.

Other Trips with some of these folks

Jay Coburn

Berner Oberland - April 2018
Gran Paradiso - April 2016
Vanoise Haute Route - March 2015
Ortler - March 2013
Berner Oberland - May 2008
Haute Route - April 2007

Page Dinsmore

Berner Oberland - April 2018

George Privon

Norway, March 2018
Berner Oberland, April 2014
Ortler, April 2006

Paul Kiernan

Chamonix - March 2018

Return to all recent trips


The Crew, from left to right: Page, David, Paul, Craig, Mark, George, and Jay (Kathy behind the camera this time).


Beginning from the top of the Schwarzsee lift in the Zermatt ski area, we headed off piste. Looking across at the Obergabelhorn, disappearing into the mist.


Crossing the outlet stream below the Zmutt glacier, we begin a long climb.


We had intended a short, easy day to the Schönbiel hut, but the following weather was forecast to be really bad, so we put a move on to get over the Col Durand while we could.


Skinning steep slopes in the hot sunshine.


Near the top, the sun gradually gave out.


And the wind kicked in with a fury! We made a precarious hectic from skinning to skiing, somehow not dropping or losing anything in the precarious position and the howling gale.


A steep and ice-strewn descent, but such a relief to get out of the wind.


Some skiable snow lower down on the glacier. The low point behind is the pass we just came through.




As the clouds gathered, we made our way up to the welcoming Grand Mountet hut.


Thar she blows at last! One of the more spectacularly located huts in the Alps.


Day two, that of the dreadful forecast, we descended to the base of the Zinal glacier, to climb back up to the Arpitettaz hut, foregoing the steep and exposed climb over the Blanc de Moming.


Near our low point.


Back up through the trees, the skin track required creativity and persistence.


Nearing the hut.


And the day ends with a bit of rest and recuperation.


On day three, we headed up to the Tracuit hut.


A fairly straightforward skin to begin with.


The usual wind got up later...


And a bit of steep "jiggery pokery" near the hut.


Into the brunt of the wind as we make our last steps in.


Now this is civilized! A work of rösti art.


Obsessive activity for a long afternoon!


Our weather challenges were not over. A fine day dawned but with brutal winds. A heavy snowfall was expected the next day, followed by a pretty good day. We strategized (and then some) and finally hit on an alternative plan, to head over to the Wildstrubel across the Rhone valley, where we could hopefully escape the worst of the weather and have a good ski peak in any case. But first, we decided to head at least partway up the Bishorn.


Battling headwinds en route to the Bishorn.


The gusts were show-stopping.



A very short windy video.


We turned back when it became clear the wind was not improving. We did get some good snow to ski however!


Leaving the hut was another amazing wind-tunnel experience. We used a bit of technical assistance for the exposed slope and ridge below the hut.


A fixed rope and crampons lessened the impact of the gusty wind.


Safely down on the road to Zinal.


We took refuge in about the only lodging still open in end-of-the-road Zinal, the "Auberge Alpine". Winter returned the next morning, with heavy snowfall.


After breakfast, waiting for a bus.


A snowy drive out of the mountains.


Then a train....


... and then a cable car back up into the mountains, newly flocked.


A long skin up to the Lammeren hut.


The storm is clearing already.


We startled a herd of Chamois, who scampered away across the rocks and snow.


The Lammeren hut, early the next morning as we leave for the Wildstrubel.


Although the light was flat, we finally got our powder descent!


We didn't even really need to see where we were going, it was dreamy.


Back in Kandersteg, we're ready for a shower and a good night's sleep. Thanks to the gang for their efforts, flexibility, skills, and patience in dealing with the challenges of what in the end was a great week!