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~ Saturday 23rd April 2011

This week was based on the Haute Route Impériale ski tour. We started from the St Luc ski lifts on the last day of their season - the lifts were still running but we had to walk down some of the piste on bare grass and rocks! Soon we were skiing in to the beautiful Turtmanntal on perfect spring snow, but around 2200m we ran out of snow and it was skis on rucksacks again for more walking up to the Turtmann hut.

Walking up Turtmanntal   

Day 2 starts with a steep crampon up the Gassi, which leads to vast glacier terrain beneath the north face of the Bishorn, and a spectacular ascent to the Tracuit hut. 


Tiny skiers below the Bishorn North face

Day 3: The Bishorn was in great condition although the lack of snow means there are more open crevasses than usual. Stunning summit views and a great ski descent. 

Moon and Mont Blanc from Tracuit


Day 4: The descent to the head of the Zinal valley is a great ski, but we ran out of snow around Roc de la Vache - more walking! Instead of a simple skin up the glacier to Grand Mountet we battled through moraine for an hour - it was a relief to finally put skis on. 

Day 5: After an very comfortable night at the Mountet hut we skinned up to the Arete du Blanc - an amazing feature on the north ridge of the Zinal Rothorn. Then, skis on for a huge descent, weaving a way through seracs and rock bands all the way down the glacier on excellent spring snow, a great end to the week. 

On the Arete du blanc

Skiing beneath the Obergabelhorn

There are lots more photos here