Monday, April 10, 2017

Father & Sons High Level Route.

Arguably there can be no better way to spend quality time with your children than on a multi day ski tour. Especially when it all comes together with perfect weather and conditions on what is undoubtedly one of Switzerlands great ski tours. Clearly it requires a lot of planning to get everyone together even more so when there are two fathers and their adult children. Thursday 6th April Simon Allen and his two boys Christian and Alexander were joined by Mark Dravers and his son Chris. We met in Argentiere where everyone was kitted out with ski mountaineering boots , skis and all the other ski touring paraphernalia. We then "crowbarred" it all in the car and headed around to the col de Pillon. Our plan was to use the ascent of the mountain , Les Diableret as our warm up , training peak. The plan for the day almost got torpedoed before we started because as we ventured out of the lift system at the top the wind was blowing at over 100kph. Hardly the best introduction. Yet as we skied down and got into position the wind dropped and that was the last indifferent weather we were going to see for the next four days. After we climbed to the summit we then skied down to Les Diablert Hut in excellent snow. It is a fantastic Hut , good food, beer, showers and wifi. We were the only guests. Friday 7th April We took the first lift up with the workers to the summit of Glacier 3000 ski system and the had a magnificent ski down to the col de Sanetsch.
From the Col it is necessary to skin up the arete de L'Arpille. In places there was no snow so we had to strap the skis on the back of our rucksacks and walk up. This is a big day and it is important to keep moving quickly because a lot of the route traverses avalanche prone south facing slopes , some of which had already slipped. After the avalanche debris there is a long climb up to the col Pucel. From here , providing you get the line right, [which we did] you can ski all the way down to the Cabanne Audannes and a very welcome beer. Saturday 8th April We left the Audannes at about 7.00am and were treated to a beautiful sunrise as we looked back toward the cabanne.
The task for the day was to arrive at the Wildstrubel Hut. [The second time in a week for me!] The main challenge was dealing with the heat especially because the last two hours is a grueling climb which only gets more the difficult the hotter it gets. We arrived at the Wildstrubel Hut about 1.00am. There was no wind and it was extremely pleasant sitting on the terrace drinking beer watching the other parties who had set off later than us struggle up the final slopes. In the evening we joined in what seems to be a ritual of watching the sun set. Sunday 9th April We left the Wildstrubel Hut at about 7.00am. The goal was to traverse the Wildtrubel mountain and the ski out to the Gemmi Pass. We enjoyed solitude all the way to the summit. We then had world class spring skiing all the way to the lift station. "All" that was then left was the small matter of getting back to the car at Col de Pillons which was some considerable distance away.
It was hard to imagine how the trip could not have gone better.

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