Looking for some advice for a hybrid summer Haute Route

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Looking for some advice for a hybrid summer Haute Route

by Spiffae » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:44 am

Hi folks,

I'm planning a hybrid low/high haute route trip as my honeymoon this July/August. I've got some parts of the route worked out, some parts are still up in the air. I had a couple questions for you guys.

First: a rough itinerary

Day 1: Chamonix to Trient
Day 2: Trient to Champex
Day 3: Champex to Chable
Day 4: Chable to Cabane Mont Fort
Day 5: Cabane Mont Fort to Cabane Prafleuri
Day 6: Cabane Prafleuri to Arolla
Day 7: Meet guide in Arolla, Arolla to Bertol Hut
Day 8: Bertol Hut to Schonbiel Hut
Day 9: Schonbiel Hut to Zermatt

That is pretty much following the Kev Reynolds book until Arolla, and then jumping on to the high Haute Route - I've looked at trip reports though, and see a lot of variation in the lower haute route - does anyone have any recommendations? Better huts? Interesting routes? Basically our only commitment is being in Arolla on day 7 to meet our guide.


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Re: Looking for some advice for a hybrid summer Haute Route

by rgg » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:52 pm

It's a beautiful area of the Alps, so, provided that the weather cooperates, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful experience whichever route you take.

Quite coincidentally I was in Arolla last week. One of the things we did was to climb Pigne d'Arolla, an easy peak immediately south of Arolla itself. There were lots of others with basically the same idea, except that almost everybody did it in one day. That's 1800 m up and down! And that's one thing on skis, but I was on snow shoes. Therefore we broke it up. The first day we ascended almost 1200 m, via the Glacier de Piece, to Cabana des Vignettes (3160m). The refuge wasn't open yet, we stayed in the winter room, which was actually very comfortable. And no small thanks to the big panoramic windows, the scenery was breathtaking! Now, in July conditions will obviously be very different. The crevasses won't be nicely filled with snow as they where last week, which would make skiing a lot more dangerous. But if it's cold, crampons should be fine, and if the top layer happens to be soft snow you may even get by without them, up to the refuge that is.

However, since you mention meeting a guide, I take it you don't want to go on glaciers unguided. Fair enough. That means that if you want to consider the Cabana des Vignettes, you'd have to start doing so from Arolla, and add one day to the trip, since it's a detour compared to going to the Bertol hut. In fact, after the Cabana des Vignettes you might be better off to forego Bertol altogether and go to the Refuge des Bouquetins instead. From there you can still continue to the Schönbielhütte the next day.
If you would like to make the side trip to Pigne d'Arolla, you would either need one more day again, or be really fit. In that case you have two options: either climb it on the day you start in Arolla, or in the morning of the next day. Either way, it's going to be a long day, so you'd have to start early.

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