Monday, April 30, 2012
The High Level Route
Continuing the theme of difficult conditions Henry Alex and James [split board snowboarder] met for an attempt on the Haute Route. This was to be Henry's 2nd attempt having been thwarted by the weather on the previous attempt at the Mt Fort Hut a couple of years ago This is what happened. We met and had a days initiation skiing around Les Grands Montets in good powder snow conditions but crap ski touring conditions - ie lots of snow but unstable weather with poor visibility and very high winds. Saturday 21st We set off from the Grands Montets in strong winds. So much so that the cable car closed just behind us leaving us virtually on our own. There was group putting a track in above us who had left from the Argentiere Hut. So we decided to give it a go despite the indifferent weather. We made it to the Trient Hut in deep snow . We were the only group to make it through and we were alone in the Trient Hut. Over night there was an almighty storm which put down a meter of snow. Sunday 22nd We left the Hut in waist deep snow and no visibility. We cautiously edged our way towards the Col des Ecandies before fighting our way up in shoulder deep snow. The reward was un tracked windless powder, virtually to the Village of Champex. From there we transferred to Verbier and the Mt Fort Hut. Monday 23rd We left the Mt Fort at 7.00am in good weather and took in the summit of the Rosa Blanche before finding some exceptional snow on the descent to the Prafleuri Hut which was full of the Swiss Army who were preparing the way for the famous Patrouille des Glaciers http://www.pdg.ch/ Tuesday 24th. This was always going to be a difficult day for James our split boarder because of the traverse above Lac Dix. It wasn't helped by the return of the bad weather. Wednesday 25th. We left the Dix Hut around 7.00am in very strong winds. As we climbed up to the summit of the Pigne d'Arolla it was gail force. The descent down to the Vignettes Hut was difficult and dangerous. A slab was kicked off and tripped us up and sent a couple of us on an unwanted toboggan down the slope. During the afternoon and the evening the dreaded Foehn wind got stronger and stronger. Thursday 26th We awoke at 5 .00am and the wind was howling. There was no choice to to descend down to the village of Arolla thus concluding a very adventurous ski tour even if we did not make it all the way to Zermatt. Still we were the only team to set off from Chamonix and get as far Arolla.