Haute Route Variations

~ Sunday 13th April 2014

It was nice to have last year's Pure Haute Route team re-united this year for round 2. We'd abandoned in bad weather last year at the Cabane du Vélan, so this year we re-started from there. It's a lovely, quiet hut with friendly guardians and great food.

On day 2 we did a fairly tough "warm-up" ski on Mont Vélan. It's a long ascent, with a technical bit through the Col de la Gouille and a steep skiing section on the descent.

The chains on the Col de la Gouille

Day 3 was an early start for the long climb to Valsorey and the Plateau du Couloir. It's nice to start from the comfort of the Vélan hut instead of Valsorey, but it means rattly ski down in the dark before a long climb in the early hours. The weather slowly deteriorated as we climbed...and it was cloudy and snowing at the top. Nice. Happily after a nervy start down the Chanrion side the sun broke through and meant we could enjoy some proper powder skiing. Superb.

Skins on in the dark below Vélan

The long haul up to the Plateau du Couloir, hoping the weather improves

Day 4 and another early start for the climb up the Serpentine glacier. This is a long and scenic ascent up the wild side of the Pigne d'Arolla, but by the time we reached the col one of our team was suffering badly from a "mystery illness" and we beat a hasty retreat to Arolla. Sorry to the Cabane des Vignettes for cancelling last minute! Still got some great skiing down the Dix side of the Pigne. Fresh tracks!

Great skiing on the Pigne d'Arolla

Day 5 and now minus 1 person, we made the long climb back to the Bertol hut having been very lucky to get a last minute booking. It's a great place to stay, with entertainment provided by the Scandinavian team drinking competition. The girls won, but regretted it later that night.

In the dark, all ladders are long

Day 6 dawned sunny but cold. We skinned to Tete Blanche, which was cold, skied down and then up the Tete de Valpelline, warming up slightly...This is a fine viewpoint, only 45 minutes up from the Col and well worth visiting. Fresh powder turns down to the col and good cold snow all the way down the Stockji glacier before it turned to amazing sandy spring lower down. Despite the heat the piste to Zermatt is complete, and we skied all the way. A fine end to a great week.

Sun peaks over the edge of Tete Blanche

Matterhorn and Dent d'Hérens

team on the top of Tete de Valpelline

the view back to Mont Vélan from tete de Valpelline

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