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| | |-+  April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route
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Author Topic: April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route  (Read 2929 times)
jimmyjam
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April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route
« on: 04/29/10, 01:20 PM »

Ken and I (from Seattle) and Mark and Don (from Salt Lake City) have been planning this trip for about 18 months.  My wife suggested that we do something big for turning 40 so I took that as a challenge.  I’ve been wanting to complete the Haute Route for 21 years and it was time to finally do it.

We hired a guide, Eric, that Mark had used in La Grave a few years prior.  Overall, the trip was amazing.  We had great weather pretty much the whole time.  We were always about the first team out the door in the morning and arrived in the next hut around lunch time while the weather was clear and sunny.  And nearly every day, the clouds would roll in the afternoon but it would always clear up overnight.  Avalanche danger was low to moderate the whole time.  The snow was a mix of corn, dust on crust, and a small amount of powder in places. 

Our itinerary was:
Day 1 – Argentiere to Trient Hut
Day 2 – Trient Hut to Prafleuri Hut
Day 3 -  Prafleuri Hut to Dix Hut
Day 4 – Dix Hut to Vignettes Hut
Day 5 – Vignettes Hut to Bertol Hut
Day 6 – Bertol Hut to Zermatt

The huts all varied in size and quality.  Every hut was packed as this is the high season for the Haute Route.  The best breakfast was at the Prafleuri Hut, best lunch at the Dix Hut (Rosti), best dinner was at the Vignettes Hut. The scariest access was, of course, the Bertol hut if you’ve ever seen the pictures its ladders.  It also won the prize for the nastiest smelling bathroom even though it was outside.

We all did well on the trip except for Mark’s feet  due to a last minute boot rental as Air France lost his bag.  We came to realize that the success of this particular trip is all about the weather.  The touring and skiing was  a challenge but not impossible.  Ken and I had a small bout of altitude sickness on the first night but then quickly recovered once we descended to Champex the next morning.  Mark and Don coming from SLC had no problems with the thin air.  The mountains are, however, staggering beautiful.  See for yourself:

http://picasaweb.google.com/107587856698878368782

We made it back to Chamonix on the 16th.  While in Chamonix, Mark, Don, and Ken decided to do some tandem paragliding while I skied at Le Brevent and La Flagere.  La Flagere was really cool and reminded me of the Harmony chair at Whistler.

Mark and Don were able to get their flights out but Ken and I were delayed 3 days due to the volcano.  Yeah, yeah, I know, “sorry honey, I’m stuck in Chamonix” doesn’t come across too well on the phone.  Actually, I was anxious to get home for my son’s first birthday which I made by one day.  So Ken and I made good use of our time besides constantly calling the airline and did the Crochues-Berard traverse which was really nice.  We missed the 2:00 train from Le Buet back to Chamonix so we had some beers in the sun for 2 hours until the next one arrived.  We also did a day of skiing at Le Tour which was nice but kind of mellow; a good end to the trip and probably my ski season.

All in all an awesome trip.  If you can swing it, I highly recommend the Haute Route.

James
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Zap
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Posts: 2428


Re: April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route
« Reply #1 on: 04/29/10, 02:54 PM »

The HR is a great adventure and as you mentioned it's all about the weather.  Nice TR and photos.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route
« Reply #2 on: 04/30/10, 09:34 AM »

Great pictures James. I'm envious of your trip.
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jcocci
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Re: April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route
« Reply #3 on: 05/04/10, 11:32 AM »

We were a few days ahead of you guys getting into Zermatt on the 13th. My wife and met Mark and Don in the Geneva airport on our way out. We got stuck in Geneva for a few extra days because of the volcano. We did almost the same route, but we skipped the Argentiere Hut, stayed in the Mont Fort Hut and didn't stay in the Bertol hut. I have pretty much the same opinion on the food. The rosti was over the top and the Vignettes dinner was awesome. We had great weather as well and even had about a foot of blower on our last day coming down into Zermatt. We spent 2.5 days on Zermatt hanging out and one day riding lifts.

We were a group of four, my wife, her sister and her husband were all on skis and I was on a splitboard. I didn't see another splitboard the entire time and definitely got some looks and questions along the way. I have A LOT of photos to go through and will post em up soon hopefully.

We did have one close call. We did the Vallee Blanche while in Camonix and towards the bottom on the flat section of the glacier we decided to stop and do some beacon practice. Then we hear this sort of whistling (for lack of a better description) noise and then a thud and I saw something hit he snow out of the corner of my eye. We weren't close enough to any cliffs for it to be a rock. I went to check it out and t was the tail wheel off of a plane that had just flown by. This thing literally landed about 25'-30' from us. It would have killed someone if it had hit them. So never mind avalanches or falling into a crevasse, just look out for falling plane wheels.
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BigCountry
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Re: April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route
« Reply #4 on: 05/04/10, 01:10 PM »

Great Pics. We were just a few days behind you. We, too, had terrific weather and really nice snow.  AND, it seems, the same meals.
Question - what Cols did you go over on your first day? It didn't look like Chardonnay or Salenia.  Just curious.  Thanks again for the pics.  JM
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runningclouds
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Re: April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route
« Reply #5 on: 05/04/10, 05:18 PM »

Great pictures! Brings back memories and rekindles dreams of future.
The combination of food, comfort huts and awesome panoramas is hard to resist.
Thanks for your post.
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jimmyjam
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Posts: 46


Re: April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route
« Reply #6 on: 05/11/10, 12:38 PM »

Thanks for everyone's nice comments.  I was home for exactly one week and then flew BACK to Geneva for work.  Crazy.  I love Europe as much as the next guy but it's good to be home.  At least I wasn't stranded by the volcano again.

Lowell:  Thanks for the nice note.  Hope all is well with you and your family.

jcocci:  Funny that your wife met Mark and Don; it's a small world.  And an airplane wheel falling off on the Vallee Blanche is an incredible story!!  There is some history of that actually.  I believe an Air India Super-Conti crashed onto Mt. Blanc in the 50s.  There is a wheel from that crash in the Museum in Chamonix.  I look forward to seeing your photos when  you post them.  We had originally planned to stay in Zermatt but ended up just going back to Chamonix, which worked out nicely. 

jmanotti: Our guide predicted that the Col du Chardonnet would be grid-locked so we went south up the next basin and up and over the Col du Passon.  We then went across the Glacier du Tour and up and over the Col du Tour.  Then it was across the Plateau du Trient to the Trient hut.  Climbing up the Col du Passon was a bit tricky but manageable. If you zoom in on that area, you can see it on the map:

http://map.wanderland.ch/?lang=en&layer=wanderwegnetz 

James
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jcocci
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Re: April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route
« Reply #7 on: 05/11/10, 01:00 PM »

jcocci:  Funny that your wife met Mark and Don; it's a small world.  And an airplane wheel falling off on the Vallee Blanche is an incredible story!!  There is some history of that actually.  I believe an Air India Super-Conti crashed onto Mt. Blanc in the 50s.  There is a wheel from that crash in the Museum in Chamonix.  I look forward to seeing your photos when  you post them.  We had originally planned to stay in Zermatt but ended up just going back to Chamonix, which worked out nicely.

I meant to say my wife and I, left out the I.

I am going through my photos as we speak, its a time consuming process with how many I took, but I am getting there. For now here's one of me and the plane wheel.


* IMG_3034.jpg (141.54 KB, 960x1280 - viewed 397 times.)
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jcocci
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Posts: 163


Re: April 11-16, 2010, Haute Route
« Reply #8 on: 05/11/10, 08:32 PM »

Here's links to my photos

http://gallery.me.com/jcocci/101512
http://gallery.me.com/jcocci/101522
http://gallery.me.com/jcocci/101526
http://gallery.me.com/jcocci/101528
http://gallery.me.com/jcocci/101544
http://gallery.me.com/jcocci/101555
http://gallery.me.com/jcocci/101568
http://gallery.me.com/jcocci/101578
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