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~ Friday 2nd September 2016

We set off on Sunday for a couple of days with a flexible plan...and returned to the valley this morning, 6 days, 4 huts and 7 summits later. A great week of exploring around the upper Val d'Hérens.

Day 1 was a gentle approach to the Vignettes hut, ideal starting point for the classic Eveque traverse...

South west ridge eveque

After a second night at Vignettes we climbed a deserted Pigne d'Arolla on Tuesday then traversed to the Serpentine (a rarely visited summit with fine views) before descending the excellent North ridge to the col de la Serpentine.

We went down the Serpentine glacier, a long and remote-feeling descent. At the bottom you can go left or right bank...we should have gone right, and had a "refreshing" paddle to cross the glacier outflow!

We stayed at Chanrion, leaving early for the long climb to the Ruinette. This summit is higher than neighbouring Mont Blanc de Cheilon, but more remote and less frequently climbed.

Returning to the Col de la Lire Rose we still had a long afternoon trek round to the Dix hut, but as usual the team there provided a warm welcome and we spent a pleasant afternoon planning the next day...

La Luette is directly behind the hut, and from the summit a continuation ridge links the peaks of le Pleureur and la Sale, promising a fine traverse.

If you like climbing on solid rock...this is not the route for you! Sadly, although aesthetically very fine, the entire ridge is composed of cheese and rubble...even by Valais standards, it's loose! Apparently very interesting to geologists, the "rock" here leaves a lot to be desired and climbing on it needs a steady head and a good sense of humour. Surprisingly there are quite a few new bolts along the way!

A couple of quick abseils regain the snow below la Sale, with the Pantalon Blanc bivvy in sight. Some snow, rubble, snow, rubble...and we arrived at the bivvy in time for lunch.

Despite having time to descend to the valley we opted for a night at the bivvy. It's a fine spot with great views and a fitting end to a great week of mountaineering. We'd seen no-one at all on l'Éveque, the Pigne, Serpentine or Ruinette, and met only 2 people (going the other way) on the Luette/Pleureur day.