Friday, October 5, 2012

Walkers Haute Route, Les Hauderes to Zermatt

To continue from our last post...

Day 7: Les Hauderes to Zinal, another beautiful morning as today's challenge was the Col de Torrent and on via the Barrage de Moiry and on to Zinal. Climbing quickly & steeply we soon found ourselves above La Sage with great views of where we had come from the day before, towards Arolla & the Pigne. Once above the tree line the path moves steadily up and leftwards for a long while through open high pastureland. Finally the path changes direction bringing you to the Col with fantastic views of the Dent Blanche to the west and Pigne Arolla to the North. The south side of the col reveals more amazing views towards Zinal Rothorn, Weisshorn & the Moiry glacier. I personally think this is one of the best views on the trek, 360 deg of awesome scenery.

A fairly straightforward descent took us to Lac Auternes and a welcome lunch stop. From here you descend quickly to Lac Moiry and if time allows a quick ascent if the Col de Sorbois and down through the ski area to Zinal. Our other alternative was to have a drink at the cafe and take the bus from the dam. We decided on the second option and arrived in Zinal in good time for beers at the bar!

Day 8: Rest day in Zinal, however some of the group decided to punish themselves further & went back to do the Col des Sorbois! Taking the bus back to Grimentz & on to the Barrage de Moiry and walking over from there.

Day 9: Zinal to Gruben, from French to German speaking area of Switzerland! The weather again was truly on our side and the views as we climbed out of Zinal towards the Forcletta were absolutely stunning. Views of the Zinal Rothorn, Dent Blanche and the Matterhorn were second to none. We were treated by a religious service & music as we passed the memorial at Alpage Nava, giving us reason to rest a while before climbing the last section to the Forcletta. A long yet steady descent through high pastureland with stunning views of the turtmattal glacier. We continued our descent through the trees and on to the little hamlet of Gruben and the hotel Schwarzhorn.

Day 10: Gruben to St Niklaus & Gasenreid. The forecast had threatened to be bad on the Thursday & today we were not disappointed as we awoke to heavy rain. Gald we had a chance to use the waterproof gear we had all carried for the past 10 days! If ever there was a day to have rain & low cloud this is the one as due to the nature of the terrain the views come after the Augustbordpass & when on the traverse high above the Matterhorn valley. The weather had started to clear & we got the views on our descent to Jungen before taking the lift down to St Niklaus. By the time we reached our hotel in Gasenreid the weather had been restored to its former glory.

Day 11: Europaweg, Gasenreid to Randa. The Europaweg is a strange route indeed and not for the faint hearted! Initially the terrain is easy (although very steep up through the trees) you then arrive in a lofty position high above the Matterhorn valley at Grat. The views here are out if this world... especially with the weather as it was. View to the east over towards the Bernese Oberland and to the west and the mighty Wiesshorn & Matterhorn. The route continues idyllically past the statue if St Bernard & then turn the corner & all hell lets loose! Gully after gully of broken shattered rock and a mountain full of house sized boulders in precarious positions, this is not a place to linger long! Following the Grosse Grab couloir you are treated to a network of exposed & loose traversing ledges that seem to go on forever. The group handled it well and moved stealthily over the tricky terrain.

As the path is closed (due to rockfall) just past the Europahutt we descended to Randa for the night and the comfort of the hotel Alpenblick.

Day 12: Europaweg, Randa to Zermatt. We ascended once again picking up the Europaweg past the closed section. The route then traverses high and cuts around to the hamlet of Tashalp with an odd little cafe. Stop for refreshments if you dare & dont expect service with a smile. Mock & you might end up in tomorrows meat stew!! It was a frightening experience!

From here the route heads back towards the Matterhorn valley for the very best of endings to this fabulous trek. This part of the route is second to none, the views are amazing all the way to Zermatt. Weisshorn, Breithorn, Matterhorn, Caster & Pollux, the list of mighty mountains seen from this last day on the Europaweg is endless. A fitting end if ever there was one!

Thanks to the group, Katrina, John, Amanda, Tzvetan, Jude, Carmel, Lynette, Michael & Keith... you were a dream to guide through the mountains and such good fun.

More information on the Walkers Haute Route at:

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