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~ Saturday 2nd May 2015

The Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route is the Haute Route, and probably the world's most famous ski tour. Not surprising then that it can be busy. Many teams start on a sunday or Monday and have a week to reach Zermatt, which means every week a wave of skiers leave Chamonix. Our cunning plan was to leave a day or so later, and with a few extra days to play with we hoped to avoid the crowds and take in a few variations on the way.

After a warm-up on closing day in Le Tour, we skied a very quiet Vallée Blanche on Tuesday, with a quick tour up to Helbronner on the way. Dramatic exit from the Midi lift!

Dent du Géant

With perfect weather forecast, we set off for the Trient hut on Tuesday, the classic first stage of the Haute Route.

Cramponning up from the Argentiere glacier on day 1 of the Haute Route

On Wednesday we back-tracked to the Aiguille du Tour while the rest of the hut headed on for Prafleuri. This gave us a great ski on spring snow down to the Col des Écandies, and a nicely softened descent from there to a tasty lunch in Champex.

Aiguille Verte and Mont Blanc from the Aiguille du Tour

Tiny skiers on the vast slope below the Aiguille du Tour

Tricky conditions on the Col des Écandies

Thursday saw us on the first lift at Verbier for a peaceful skin round to the Rosablanche. Behind the Mont Fort wave and ahead of the Trient teams, we had the place more or less to ourselves.

Rosablanche summit

At Prafleuri we spent a very pleasant afternoon pondering the bathroom design!

Next day there were few options at first other than to follow the classic traverse to the Dix hut, but then we broke off left to Arolla. Bad weather forecast for Saturday meant a night in the valley and a rest day was tempting!

The new Pas de Chevre ladders

After a day tour in Arolla on Sunday we headed up to Vignettes on Monday only to be frustrated by terrible weather on Tuesday. Relief when Wednesday dawned bright and clear for the big stage to Zermatt! A great finale and some fantastic skiing - fresh tracks in powder with a stunning view.

Classic shot in front of the Matterhorn at the Col de Valpelline

The awesome scenery on the Stockji glacier descent

...and some great snow

Arriving in Zermatt we had a day to spare, a weather window and a 4000m peak to ski. The Breithorn is quickly accessed from the Klein Matterhorn, a wallet-emptying but very rapid lift!

Skinning above the clouds on the Breithorn

Chilly team on the summit!

Skiing off the top

Ski til the snow runs out! (Bar out of shot to the right!)

A great trip, and a very fine end to the ski season...although maybe it's not over yet!