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The High Haute Route: Pt2. Completed! Arolla to Zermatt.

The High Haute Route: Pt2. Completed! Arolla to Zermatt.


Postby mountainstar » Sun Sep 13, 2015 12:54 pm

Date walked: 05/09/2015

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The Classic Haute Route: Part 2. Arolla to Zermatt…Unfinished business!

Rewind to July 2013…
… “We dropped down the glacier with heads hung low having never completed the route”
That is how we finished the route, not the best of ends, but we had completed 5 wonderful days of the classic high Haute route (Chamonix to Zermatt) reluctantly we bailed out the last few days due to our “navigational misplacement” :(

Trip report of that July 2013 trek here…
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=35095

Rewind to April 2015…
The fact that we never actually completed the Haute had been bugging Martin and I ever since, we had talked about what a awesome trek it had been and how we would have loved to have completed it over a pint or two on many occasions.
One night in April earlier this year over another beer I said to Martin “How do you fancy going back to finish the Haute route next year?” as quick as a flash he replied “Why don’t we go this year?” Instantly replied “OK.” Obviously we were both on the same mindset and within seconds it was game on again! 8)
A few days later we had booked the flight, trains, buses, accommodation in Geneva, Arolla, Zermatt and the 2 huts on our route. :D
It certainly wasn’t the beer talking; we didn’t have to think twice about this one!

After a flight to Geneva (Hostel overnight), next day a train to Sion and a bus to the charming high (1,371 m) Alpine village of Evolène, we reached out hotel and our base to start the walk the following day.

ImageEvolène (3) by Alan, on Flickr
Hotel Hermitage, Evolène.

ImageEvolène (5) by Alan, on Flickr
Evolène.

Day 1. Sat 5th Sept.
Arolla (1371m) to the Bertol Hut (3311m) Ascent: 1300m.
Duration: 5.30hrs.
Weather: Cloudy, patchy rain, snow up high, up to 4 inches over several hours until the early hours.
After a bus to the village of Arolla (Nowhere near as pretty as Evolène) we set off at 10.15am for the Bertol hut with waterproofs donned.
With the weather less than favourable and a grinding uphill slog at a high altitude, it was just grin and bear it as we slowly climbed onto into the cloud and increasingly heavy snow.

ImageHaute Route. Day 1. Arolla to the Bertol Hut (1) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 1. Arolla to the Bertol Hut (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 1. Arolla to the Bertol Hut (3) by Alan, on Flickr
A rare glimpse of blue sky

Luckily the cloud lifted and broke as we neared the hut revealing its spectacular location. :o

ImageHaute Route. Day 1. Arolla to the Bertol Hut (4) by Alan, on Flickr
The hut comes into view.

ImageHaute Route. Day 1. Arolla to the Bertol Hut (5) by Alan, on Flickr

A series of ladders lead vertically up the rock face to gain the ridge, a momentous effort was required to climb these given the altitude and our lack of acclimatisation. :shock:

ImageHaute Route. Day 1. Arolla to the Bertol Hut (6) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 1. Arolla to the Bertol Hut (7) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 1. Arolla to the Bertol Hut (8) by Alan, on Flickr

We flopped inside the hut, the warmth so welcoming from the snow and cold winds outside.
The Bertol hut is perched high on the rocky ridge, and is one of the best hut locations in the Alps. It overlooks an immense glacier plateau to the east feeding the Mont Miné and Ferpècle glaciers. Across this plateau the Dent Blanche dominates the view, and the upper half of the Matterhorn comes in view for the first time...not that we saw much of that during the evening as the snow continued to fall as we retired to bed that night, the forecast was for better weather sometime during the morning…hopefully sooner than later as we had fears of route finding over the high creviced glaciers that we had to cross the following day.
During the night I spent a penny in the outside toilet (Enough to wake you into your senses!) I was so pleased to see stars overhead. :D

Day 2. Sun 6th Sept.
Bertol Hut to Schonbiel Hut (2,694m) via Col de la Tête Blanche (3,600m)
Distance: 11km. Ascent: 741m – Descent: 1,358m.
Duration: 8hrs
Weather: Sunny, calm, cold.
Our hopes were answered when we woke at sunrise, the transformation was amazing, pristine jagged mountains rose all around from the fresh virgin snow that had fallen on the glaciers below. Today was going to be awesome! :D

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Sunrise, and what a change in the weather. by Alan, on Flickr
Sunrise…Awesome!

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Sunrise by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Bertol Hut by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Footsteps of 2 early morning trekkers by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2.The Bertol hut walkway from the WC, sure to wake you up on yout night time visits! by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Bertol Hut interior by Alan, on Flickr
Inside the hut.

We left the hut by another series of ladders to the slopes of the Mont Miné Glacier below.

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Onto the Mont Miné Glacier. by Alan, on Flickr
Onto the glacier.


A nice level traverse made the going easy as we rounded the cliffs of the Dents de Bertol, then a steady climb to the Col de la Tête Blanche at almost 3600 meters.

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Looking back to the hut from the Mont Miné Glacier (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2.Virgin tracks up the Mont Miné Glacier by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Heading for the Col, Mont Miné Glacier by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. View down the Mont Miné Glacier by Alan, on Flickr
View down the Mont Miné Glacier

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Map checking by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Panorama from the Mont Miné Glacier by Alan, on Flickr
Panorama from the Mont Miné Glacier

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Dent d'Hérens and Tete de Valpelline by Alan, on Flickr
Dent d'Hérens and Tete de Valpelline

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. The Matterhorn by Alan, on Flickr
The amazing Matterhorn takes centre stage ahead.

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. The Matterhorn from the Mont Miné Glacier by Alan, on Flickr

This “Col” is somewhat misleading as it’s more of a shoulder than a Col, the real Col is some 200mts lower to the north east.
The views from our high point was spectacular, Dent Blanche, Obergabelhorn, Zinalrothorn, Weisshorn, and Dent d'Hérens just some of the mountains savoured, and not forgetting our first up-close view of the Matterhorn.
Simply stunning! 8)

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. View from the Col de la Tête Blanche (3600mt) by Alan, on Flickr
View from the Col de la Tête Blanche (3600mt)

ImageHaute Route. Day 2.Col de la Tête Blanche (3600mt) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. The Matterhorn and Dent d'Heroens by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. The Matterhorn (2) by Alan, on Flickr
The Matterhorn

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Wandfueh lhs by Alan, on Flickr


ImageHaute Route. Day 2.Posing. but out-posed by the Matterhorn by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Posing. but out-posed by the Matterhorn by Alan, on Flickr
Posing. but out-posed by the Matterhorn

ImageHaute Route. Day 2.The Matterhorn up close by Alan, on Flickr

Tearing ourselves away from the views, it was time to descend the crevassed Stockji glacier, we weaved a route through the crevasses which make you feel somewhat alive…being so close to death! :shock:
We left the Stockji glacier at a rocky outcrop named Stockji, here a rough path zigzags down towards the lower reaches of the Zmutt glacier.

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Heading down the Stockji glacier by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. The crevassed Stockji glacier by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Never get fed up of this mountain view! by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. The crevassed Stockji glacier (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. View up the Stockji glacier, the Col de la Tête Blanche middle top. by Alan, on Flickr
View up the Stockji glacier, the Col de la Tête Blanche middle top

A path traverses along the base of the Stockji to the moraines of the Schönbiel Glacier.

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. A fine view from Stockji (1) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. A fine view from Stockji (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. The path from Stockji by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Lower Zmutt glacier and the Schönbiel Hut LHS by Alan, on Flickr

Here was a horrible crossing of the rubble-covered lower reaches of the glacier, every step a balancing act on countless boulders of various size and firmness.

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Schönbiel Hut by Alan, on Flickr
The Schönbiel Hut is tantalisingly close.

The Hut was now tantalisingly close now being just a few hundred meters above us, but steep landside slopes blocked our way, so we had two options, follow a new path that looked equally horrible and a long detour back to the glacier, of try to find a way up the landslide slopes where the old path used to be…we chose the later and what turned out to be the wrong option, it was diabolically steep, loose and horrible, so much so Martin had to rescue me with a rope belay where I became crag (or rather loose rubble) fast, the crevasse were easy-peasy compared to that hell! :shock:

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. View up the lower Stockji glacier by Alan, on Flickr
View up the lower Stockji glacier

Once at the Hut we collapsed with a beer to revive us, which was just the medicine…as well as the stunning views which were enough to revive the soul. As the sun set we were treated to a lovely Alpine glow on the high peaks. :D

ImageHaute Route. Day 2.Sunset from the Schönbiel Hut by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2.Sunset from the Schönbiel Hut (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. The Matterhorn Alpen glow by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. Relaxing at the Schönbiel Hut by Alan, on Flickr
Happy and contented.

ImageHaute Route. Day 2. It's serious stuff the mountaineering! lol by Alan, on Flickr
Serious stuff this mountaineering!

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Sunrise from Schönbiel hut by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Sunrise from Schönbiel hut (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Sunrise from Schönbiel hut (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Alpine glow, the Matterhorn by Alan, on Flickr

Day 2. Sun 6th Sept.
Schonbiel Hut to Zermatt, Distance: 11km. Descent: 1080m
Duration: 4.15hrs.
Weather: Sunny, calm, warm.

We were up as the sun rose across a cloud filled valley…another stunning day. :D

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Valley cloud from the Schönbiel hut by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Alpine glow, the Matterhorn (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. The Stockji glacier by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. The Stockji glacier (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut sunrise by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut sunrise (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut, main room by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut bedroom by Alan, on Flickr
Martin missed the sunrise as you can see.

We were the last to leave, our route an easy walk down to Zermatt.

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut (3) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut (4) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut to Zermatt path by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut to Zermatt path (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut to Zermatt path (3) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. North Face of the Dent d'Hérens by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Schönbiel hut to Zermatt path (4) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Waterfall (1) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Waterfall (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. View back up the glacier by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. The Matterhorn's Hornli ridge by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Matterhorn by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. Matterhorn's summit by Alan, on Flickr

The massive North Face of the Matterhorn loomed above us across the remains of the Zmutt Glacier as we dropped down to Zermatt following gentle moraine crests, grassy trails and finally a well-trodden tourist trail through the charmingly preserved village of Zmutt.

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. The charmingly preserved village of Zmutt (1) by Alan, on Flickr
Zmutt.

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. The charmingly preserved village of Zmutt (2) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. The charmingly preserved village of Zmutt (3) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. The charmingly preserved village of Zmutt (4) by Alan, on Flickr

ImageHaute Route. Day 3. The Matterhorn from Zermatt by Alan, on Flickr

Thirty minues later we were in the hustle and bustle of beautiful Zermatt.

We celebrated with a high five and a beer feeling totally fulfilled, it had taken us 2 years and 2 trips, with some wonderful memories of what must rank as one of the best high level mountain treks in the World. :D
Not a bad effort for two guys who now have bus passes! :clap:

A video I made of this trek can be seen here…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4-YF470gtU
Last edited by mountainstar on Sun Sep 13, 2015 1:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The High Haute Route: Pt2. Arolla to Zermatt…Completed!

Postby MilanBohac » Sun Sep 13, 2015 1:01 pm

Great report and absolutely stunning pictures! Thank you for sharing :clap: :thumbup:
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Re: The High Haute Route: Pt2. Completed! Arolla to Zermatt.

Postby dooterbang » Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:35 pm

A tremendous advert for adventure, keeping active, the outdoors, persistence, and following dreams. Outstanding inspirational stuff :clap: . Can't believe its 2 years gone by since reading the first effort, although that must seem like a week ago for you guys :lol: . I see you like the Matterhorn :wink:

That was almost as good as my trip report of the month :lol: :shock: 8)
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Re: The High Haute Route: Pt2. Arolla to Zermatt…Completed!

Postby mountainstar » Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:15 pm

MilanBohac wrote:Great report and absolutely stunning pictures! Thank you for sharing :clap: :thumbup:

Thank's always a pleasure
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Re: The High Haute Route: Pt2. Completed! Arolla to Zermatt.

Postby mountainstar » Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:21 pm

dooterbang wrote:A tremendous advert for adventure, keeping active, the outdoors, persistence, and following dreams. Outstanding inspirational stuff :clap: . Can't believe its 2 years gone by since reading the first effort, although that must seem like a week ago for you guys :lol: . I see you like the Matterhorn :wink:

That was almost as good as my trip report of the month :lol: :shock: 8)


Better late than never. :shock:
Did I manage one or two Matterhorn pictures? :roll:
I had to make a comeback with TR's just to add to the 2013 effort...which btw was better than your winning one :wink: but never won! :( :? :shock: :crazy: :wink:
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Re: The High Haute Route: Pt2. Completed! Arolla to Zermatt.

Postby dav2930 » Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:34 pm

Well done for completing the Haute Route - it looks absolutely stunning. The grim weather on day 1 must have been a bit disheartening, but what a contrast thereafter! I'm not surprised you took so many pics of the Matterhorn; it's just so uniquely impressive. Great report of a great trek! :clap: :clap:
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Re: The High Haute Route: Pt2. Completed! Arolla to Zermatt.

Postby malky_c » Sun Sep 13, 2015 11:34 pm

Impressive stuff - I don't know where you find the time :shock: .
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Re: The High Haute Route: Pt2. Completed! Arolla to Zermatt.

Postby ChrisW » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:13 am

Absolutely stunning Mountainstar, congratulations on going back out there and completing this beauty. Day 1 looked like hard work in not too inspiring weather but day 2.....just wow, what a pay off for that earlier graft and day 3 was the perfect closing.

Stunning pics throughout :clap:
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Re: The High Haute Route: Pt2. Completed! Arolla to Zermatt.

Postby mountainstar » Mon Sep 14, 2015 12:47 pm

ChrisW wrote:Absolutely stunning Mountainstar, congratulations on going back out there and completing this beauty. Day 1 looked like hard work in not too inspiring weather but day 2.....just wow, what a pay off for that earlier graft and day 3 was the perfect closing.

Stunning pics throughout :clap:

Thanks Chris,
I cannot believe how good the weather was after the first day, and again 3 days later when we did a 4,000 footer the Briethorn.
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Re: The High Haute Route: Pt2. Completed! Arolla to Zermatt.

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:10 pm

Absolutely wonderful pics, and really great report. :clap: :clap: :clap: The only thing that surprises me is that there are so few pics of the Matterhorn.....

And no pics of you guys on the Hoernli Ridge... :D

Well done - great achievement. You won't forget this experience in a hurry! I need to get this on to the to-do list when the bus pass comes (not long now :D ).
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Re: The High Haute Route: Pt2. Completed! Arolla to Zermatt.

Postby mountainstar » Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:42 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Absolutely wonderful pics, and really great report. :clap: :clap: :clap: The only thing that surprises me is that there are so few pics of the Matterhorn.....

And no pics of you guys on the Hoernli Ridge... :D

Well done - great achievement. You won't forget this experience in a hurry! I need to get this on to the to-do list when the bus pass comes (not long now :D ).


I think my camera had a Matterhorn magnet on it. lol
Hoernli Ridge? Mmmm, looked at that, I think I will pass! :shock: :crazy:
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