THE ULTIMATE HUT TO HUT JOURNEY
Our trip begins with us all meeting in Martigny, taking the train to Argentierre , then lifts up and Ski/Hike to – Refuge Albert Premier. Originally we were to go to the Refuge Argentierre, but it was completely booked. I think most people were there since Albert Premier was not so crowded.
Climbing stats – 6 miles (9.6 km), 5 hrs 49 minutes, 2810 ft (856 M) ascent, 2396 ft (730 M) descent
Our guides inspected our gear at 7am, and off we went on the 7:45 am train to Argentierre.
Originally we had planned to take the Lognan Telecabin, followed by the Grand Montets with a nice ski down across the Argentièrre Glacier to our first big climb of the Col de Passon. The wind gods were not with us, as it was snowing and blowing crazy – the Grands Montets telecabin was closed. Instead we had to take the HERSE chair lift which added to our hike for this first day, so instead of skiing down to our first big climb – we climbed to it!
Our original plan was to stay at Refuge Argentière, but it was booked a month a head of time, so our plan shifted to the Refuge Albert Premier.
First Breakfast in a hut - and early start off to Trient.
Climbing stats – 4.75 miles (7.6 km) , 5 hrs 38 min, 2437 ft (715 M) ascent, 907 ft (277 M) descent
It was around this point that the guides noticed that Phil's nose wasn't his normal nose, and that he was developing some signs of frostbite - Phil was mister covered face for the rest of the day!
Well, this is a crazy day. Originally we were supposed to go from Cabane du Trient to Cabane de Mont Fort, but the guides realized the trip the day after - from Cabane de Mont Fort to Cabane des Dix would be too much for our group. Two itineraries were proposed: Option 1) Ski down to Champex, and take bus to Arolla, stay in hotel, and ascend to Cabane des Dix the next day, Option 2) Skin up about a mile on day 3 to a helicopter approved landing area, then Heli over to Rosablanche and continue on to Cabane des Dix by ski that day. Option 2 was only about 120 Fr more per person than Option 1, so all of us went with the Heli option.
Climbing stats part 1 to the Heli landing spot – 1.3 miles (2 km) , 1 hrs 15 minutes, 706 ft (215 M) ascent, 361 ft (110 M) descent
Now it's time to Climb the Rosablanche to the top, climb down, and trek over to the Cabane des Dix. The below image illustrates the next phase.
Climbing stats part 3 to the Rosa Blanche to Cabane des Dix – 7.8 miles (12.6 km), 7 hours, elev gain 2631 ft (802 M), elev loss 3937 ft (1200 M)
After skiing the great snow off of the Rosa Blanche, our descent down to the Lac des Dix was to begin, first was a run down the Couloir du Rosa Blanche, which is well known to the ski racers of the Patrouille du Glacier - the race between Zermatt and Verbier. For an image of what this Couloir looks like filled with racers going up, PICK HERE!
Day 4 - April 4th, 2017 - Rest Day for us at the Cabane des Dix. Some stayed in the hut and relaxed, a few of us skinned up to La Luette to hit a local peak!
Great day to explore the hut a little more. Martin our guide explained that too often groups get into their huts at night, eat, go to bed, and never really get to know the character of their hut - this extra day at Cabane des Dix was awesome!! For those of us that skinned up to La Luette (the Uvula - big discussion on the correct medical term), we were granted with what Martin called "Mouse knee deep powder" at the beginning, but real powder at the top!
Climbing stats – 3.75 miles (6km) , 3 hrs 55 minutes, 2000 ft (610 M) ascent, 2000 ft (610 M)descent
Day 5 starts early - up at 4:30am, and leave at 5:30 for the ascent on the Pigne D'arolla. We had some illness in the group the day before (altitude sickness and perhaps some Asthma), and were worried about a possible need for evacuation, but we pulled it all together, and we were ready to go for this big day! It was headlamps on, and snowing when we started, and we were definitely the first group up and out the door!
Climbing stats – 6.33 miles (10.2 km) , 11 hrs 56 minutes, 3080 ft (939 M) ascent, 2271 ft (692 M) descent
There is a little side story that happened just around the time the picture above was taken. Visibility was horrible, you couldn't see landmarks, etc.... Our guides stopped, checked their topo maps, altimeter and compass. I offered them a peak at my GAIA app that had topo and a GPS location on it, but they said "no we're ok". Another guide from Chamonix leading another group who had been here the week before passed us and veered to the right. I'm sure there might have been some second guessing from our guides, but they were confident and continued on. We were the first group to hit the Serpentine, when who do you think pulled up behind us about 40 minutes after we last saw them - the group from Chamonix! Our guides were very modest about this, saying it could happen to anyone, but we couldn't help but snicker at how the Tortoise (definitely our group), beat the hare - at least to the Serpentine!
Day 6 started with a departure at 6:30am, this was one of the longest days for all of us - with 3 Col's to climb - the Col de L'Eveque, the very steep Col du Mont Brulé, and the mentally draining Col du Valpelline. The ski run down besides the Matterhorn was amazing, but the final ascent up the Moraine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moraine) to the hut was tiring to say the least as rocks slid down the hill towards us (the joke of the day was that it was the Chamois pushing them down on us).
The departure from the Cabane des Vignettes was not exactly pleasant as everyone in the hut was leaving at the same time - probably 120 people, and the sketchy icy path out of the hut potentially leading to a 500 Meter fall off a cliff! Most people on this trek would go all the way to Zermatt (which I had done back in '85), but we chose an alternate approach to stop at an uncrowded Cabane Schöbielhütte, right next to the Matterhorn, and then arrive early in Zermatt on our last day with no rushing necessary!
Climbing stats – 13.66 miles (22 km) , 11 hrs 14 minutes, 4196 ft (1279 M) ascent, 5696 ft (1736 M) descent
Day 7 is our easy day - a cruisy, relaxing run all the way down to Zermatt.
Climbing stats – 7.23 miles (11.6 km), 1 hrs 58 minutes, 6 ft (2 M) ascent, 3477 ft (1060 M) descent
What a great Haute Route. Thanks to our Guides Martin and Mickey, and the whole group for being so positive throughout this great trek!