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Winter Room Haute Route

~ Thursday 1st March 2018

The Chamonix-Zermatt "Haute Route" is probably the most famous multi-day ski-tour in the world - it's usually called simply The Haute Route. Completing it is a real challenge needing fitness and good weather, but in the main touring season the huts will be full and it can feel busy. The idea of the Winter Room trip is to attempt the journey before the huts open, when the classic route is often totally deserted. This year we didn't quite make it to Zermatt, but we definitely found an adventure on the way!

We started up the Col du Passon with a few other people, but everyone else turned left and skied to le Tour, leaving us alone in the high mountains.

Day 2 dawned windy, cloudy and snowy. Not ideal!

Still, we had a great ski down the Val d'Arpette.

A quick taxi and a careful journey through the Verbier lift system got us out into the wilds again just as the weather closed in - tricky conditions down to the Prafleuri hut.

Despite having a quirky coin-meter electricity supply the hut proved un-heatable - it was a relief to get moving in great weather the next day!

No tracks at all along the Dixence valley.

The Pas du Chat is a key passage on the route - steep and serious ground, which feels very remote with no-one else around!

The weather started to break on Thursday so we avoided the Pigne d'Arolla and escaped through to Arolla in the morning before making the long climb to Bertol in the afternoon. We now had only a short stage through to Zermatt - if the weather held!

Sadly, after a promising start, the clouds rolled in and despite a patient wait on top of Tete Blanche we eventually had to admit defeat and return to Arolla - which wasn't that easy at first in zero visibility.

The descent from Bertol is a good one and went some way towards making up for disappointment in not making it through to Zermatt.

So again the Winter Room trip provided adventure. Despite a "failure" of sorts - if success means reaching Zermatt - we had a great week, with good skiing, good fun and a real team spirit. Thanks everyone for making it work!

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