Sunday, 7 August 2022

WALKERS HAUTE ROUTE, NO. 63

 

Cloud Clearing from the Sentier de Chamois 

Back onto the Walkers Haute Route again.

My 63rd time guiding it and this one special as it's one of Tarmachan Mountaineering's trips, rescheduled twice from 2020 when Covid restrictions struck. 6 wonderful folk, 4 of whom have been out with me several times in the Scottish mountains.

Day 1 is a nice and easy 'warm up' as we traverse the Aig. Posettes up to Col de Balme and down to Trient. 

A huge thanks to Sara who 'accompanied ' us up to the Swiss border, making me legal. Gaining a work permit to guide in France is virtually impossible for us UK based IML's, thanks to all those who voted brexit.

Thank you Switzerland for open arms!

Above the  Chamonix Valley 

Lunch on the meadow 

Tomorrow's col!

Balcony views at Trient 
DAY 2
Trient to Champex

Thursday 28th July.

Day 2 on this Walkers Haute Route with Tarmachan Mountaineering. Another fine , sunny day and beautiful temperatures. 
The Fenetre Arppette is a fabulous route, a real sense of being in the mountains and 'Scottish terrain' . We had a thunderstorm 1 hour from the finish. Good to see a bit of rain. The Alpine flowers have suffered this summer with the dry, hot conditions.

The Trient Glacier 



Look back

Craig happy

Arppette 

The Fenetre Arppette 

The other side

Descending 

Weather clouds

FRIDAY 29 JULY

Day 3 on the Walkers Haute Route. 
A wet day, at last! First time walking in rain for 15 days. It cleared beautifuly in the evening up at the Cabane Montfort. Just a short weatger front passing through. Maybe a temperature inversion in the morning?

A wet afternoon walk to the Cabane Montfort 

Clearing skies by 6pm

SATURDAY 30 JULY

Day 4 , Walkers Haute Route. 
Cabane Montfort - Cabane Prafleuri. 
My favourite day on the Haute Route. We woke to cloud shrouding the Montfort hut but within an hour or so of walking, the skies cleared with some stunning cloudscapes as we walked along the Sentier de Chamois to Col Termin. Terrific morning. It was a constantly changing light and cloud on the long, wild and high traverse over 3 cols. Topped off with about 40 ibex near the Cabane Prafleuri after dinner. Superb.

Clouds dispersing

Wonderful traversing

Grand Combin coming out to play 

Col Termin 

More cloudscapes 

Col Louvie in the distance 

Cloudscapes 



Prafleuri 

Magic

SUNDAY 31 JULY

Top day again on the Walkers Haute Route. 
Cabane Prafleuri to Arolla.
Wonderful moments with Ibex over the Col de Roux. Looking superb in the early morning light. I was also out photographing around 40 Ibex the night before, not far from the Cabane Prafleuri. A mix of male, female and youngsters. Superb. 
Back to normal bright sun and a nice temperature. 
Ibex photography later 😀.

Col de Roux

Lac Dixence 

There's an ibex somewhere 

Bog Cotton 

Above Lac Dixence

Mont Blanc de Cheilon 

Fascinating geology

New path up to Reidmatten 

Wonderful 

Steep up to Col Reidmatten 

Good here

Col de Reidmatten 

Down to Arolla,  first sighting of the Matterhorn 

Mont Collon

Our digs for the night 

MONDAY 1 AUGUST 

I call the section of the Haute Route between Arolla and La Sage a 'rest day'. An easy stroll after 2 long a wonderful days. 
Lots of Nutcracker birds out this morning, very active. A break at the Buvette by Lac Bleau, a liesurley lunch of Rosti & ice cream at Les Hauderes & a final saunter up to the beautiful village of La Sage.
Today is Swiss National Day. Unfortunately with the ground so dry it looks like no fireworks. Its a shame. Most villages and towns usually have a good display and party.
Butterflies great this Summer 

Lovely traverse above the valley 

Another cloudless and warm day

Lac Bleau looks like it'll be popular 

Mont Collon from Lac Bleau 

Lac Bleau

Quiet trail to Les Hauderes 

Val d'Herens 

TUESDAY 2 AUGUST 

Another cracking day on Tarmachan Mountaineering’s Walkers Haute Route. 
Today's section from La Sage to Zinal has 2000m of ascent, the highest on the trek. It gives fabulous views of the big 'horny' 4000m peaks. Bishorn, Weisshorn, Zinal Rothorn, Ober Gabelhorn, Dent Blanche and Dent d'Herens. The walk down into Zinal from the Col de Sorbois is one to savour.
Terrific and great effort by the team.

More beautiful butterflies

Valaisian houses

Val d'Herens 

Another great day!

Dent d'Herens 

Bemalp

High above the valley 



Col de Torrent 

Weisshorn from Col de Torrent 

Lunch spot

Too hot for the cows

Terrific views from Col de Sorbois 

Stunning walk down to Zinal 

WEDNESDAY 3 AUGUST 

A rest day on Tarmachan Mountaineering’s Walkers Haute Route. Zinal is one of my favourite villages in the Alps and makes an ideal rest up spot to relax or go walking! There are some wonderful day walks from the centre of the village. I had a brilliant wander on one of my favourite circuits which gives stunning views of the Dent Blanche, Zinal Rothorn & the Weisshorn.

Besso & Dent Blanche

Edelweiss 








The late Kev Reynolds was a prolific guidebook writer, with several guides to The Alps. Let's be honest, most guide books are rather dry and just offer the bare facts. Kev Reynold's writing was always passionate and his enthusiastic writing really came across to the reader. It was his Cicerone guide to The Valais region in particular that first drew me to this area. 

Another clear skies and hot day. We all love fine, sunny and clear conditions but this prolonged hot and dry spell is not normal. The Alps have seen very little in the way of rain this summer. The ground is dry, the flowers up on the meadows and alp are nowhere near has vibrant and plentiful as they normally are in early August. Indeed, the high ground is more reminiscent of mid September than of high summer. I spotted Eidelweiss today which was looking very sorry for itself.

A top day out.


THURSDAY 4 AUGUST 

Tarmachan Mountaineering's Walkers Haute Route continues today after our rest up at Zinal. Today's section over to Gruben in the Turtmanntal has two options, The Forcletta or Meiden Pass. In good weather conditions I always try to persuade groups to go for the latter, just like today. Once above the treeline from Zinal the going gets easy. A wonderful high level traverse above 2000m. You need to keep looking back, the views of the big 4000m hills are behind you.
The mighty Dent Blanche 

Keep looking back!

Elevenses

Zinal Rothorn & Dent Blanche from the traverse path

Enroute is the Weisshorn Hotel, a relic from the past that thrives on daily tourists strolling for lunches, cakes, coffee & beer. Oddly named hotel, has you can't actually see the Weisshorn from this establishment! After refreshments it was up to today's col, the Meid Pass. At the top you get a striking rock pinnacle and a view to the Bishorn with the north ridge of theWeisshorn soaring above.

Strange place for a hotel

Looking up to the Meid Pass

Meid Pass

Afternoon cloud

Which way?

FRIDAY 5 AUGUST 

Penultimate day on this Walkers Haute Route trek. 
Gruben - St. Niklaus over the Augstboard Pass. 
A sunny start with cloud and a few light showers after 1pm. The views into the Mattertal marred by dull cloud and some light rain showers.

Clear start

Nearer the Augstboard Pass 

Rain and waterpdown the other side
We missed any thunderstorms, once again they never materialised. 
Clouds brewing 


Jungen above the Mattertal 

SATURDAY 6 AUGUST 

Final day on my 63rd Chamonix to Zermatt Walkers Haute Route. 

The fun and scenery is non stop on the high traverse above the Mattertal. The route up from Randa gains the longest span footbridge in Europe at a smidge under 500m in length. This is only a tiny part of the days trail. We soon get above the treeline and have constant views of the Weisshorn. This big 4000m peak has been in our sight for the last 3 days, from all aspects. Soon the Matterhorn comes into view as we traverse narrow ledges, go through impressive rock tunnels and meander across steep hillsides to Tasch Alp and a welcome drink. Its not over yet! More traversing, narrow ledges and narrow paths, finally descending to the bustling town of Zermatt below us. Journey's end.

Approaching the bridge

Longest footbridge in Europe 


Elevenses 

Narrow and fun


Tunnels 

The other side

I don't think the rope handrail would help!

Nearly at Taschalp 

Erratic fun

Final 3 hrs with cloud lifting

Lovely Taschalp 

The Matterhorn clears

Late afternoon views

Nice end

Mattertal

Lovely trails

Zermatt and the Matterhorn 

Bustling Zermatt 

The weather was kind, the Matterhorn showed itself off again in the afternoon. Another hot day. The small chance of rain and thunder held off as we made our way into Zermatt. 10 days and 180km of walking with thousands of metres ascent/descent. One of the finest long distance walks in The Alps.

My team of 6 went through phases of taking days off but 4 hardy souls (including the leader) perservered and hit town fitting fit!

Looking forward to no. 64 soon!