Haute Route and Haute Cuisine travel blog

It started off looking like a fine morning

James and Bob were ready to go

But we had to go down into pea soup

Skins on

We got occasional clear glimpses through the fog

Dale was just happy to be back on his skis and on...

We were not alone....

Another glimpse of what could be

James and Bruce consult the map while Tony looks on

Bob and Dale hang out

The team ahead ropes up while James makes his own call

... and they set off

We follow without rope

It starts to clear and we see how not alone we really...

Up over a roll and into the clear on the Col de...

A 2 man team

The ropes come off

We get ready to ski from the Col de l'Eveque. One col...

Looks like the sun screen will be required after all

The team enjoying the sunshine

James and Bruce

Next up, Col du Mont Brule ....

....in the top left corner of the photo

What a day!

 

Looking back

Getting closer

Looks like a steep one

A really steep one!

You know it is steep when all you see is boot bottoms...

James - guide and cheering section

Bob and James make it to the top

Bruce still has some energy!

Dale and Bruce on the Col du Mont Brule - is that...

Must have hit the Italian border and turned around!

Is that Italy down there?

Skiing down to Italy

Last climb to Col de Valpalline. Dots in the bottom left are...

Taking a rest before heading up

The team before the final push

Looking around - Wow!

Still a ways to go

Tony took a different track

So did Bruce

Still climbing....

No sore feet today!

James J and Bob L also on the other track

Looking back the way we came. Col du Mont Brule in the...

Still seems a long ways away!

The groups ahead are getting closer

Looking back

James had a little tumble. Can you guess which part was bleeding?!

A hot day, time for another liquid break

Dale is still happy to be skiing!

First glimpse of the Matterhorn in the centre of the photo

More of the Matterhorn visible

Made it to the top of the Col de Valpelline and back...

What a view!

What a day!

The mighty Matterhorn on the perfect day!

A happy group

All we can say is - WOW!

Bob L and Bruce

Bruce

Dale

The group photo

Starting down - 13 km down to Zermatt

Another group checks out the ice

It was impressive ice!

Close up

Further down the shoulder of the Matterhorn

Tough skiing required lots of breaks

Can't have too many photos of it....

The two dots in the middle....

....are Dale rescuing Bob's escaped ski

Matterhorn Zen

Mission successful and they catch up

The tough part is over

...then a short glide....

...and a short walk on a ski hill road...

..and Pam buys the big beers to celebrate

Bob, Tony and Bruce enjoy the brew

James as well

Dale, Bob and James didn't miss out

After months of training, James makes up for the beer deficit

Dale must be hungry as well

After a short, wobbly ski we made it to the lift without...

The limo to Zermatt

Zermatt coming up

Heading to the hotel

Nice backdrop!

The Alpenblick, a great hotel!

Heading out for dinner in Zermatt after cleaning up

Zermatt scenes, no cars allowed

 

 

The celebratory bubbly

... and beer

 

Taking in the entertainment at "Grampis" (see video clip)

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(WMV - 2.97 MB)

Up the Col de L'Eveque in pea soup

(WMV - 3.22 MB)

Moving towards the Col du Mont Brule

(WMV - 3.13 MB)

In Italy

(WMV - 7.93 MB)

On the way to Col de Valpelline

(WMV - 5.83 MB)

Rubbing Shoulders with the Matterhorn

(WMV - 7.12 MB)

The Zermatt Hotspot - Grampis


Wow!!! What an incredible day! We watched a nice sunrise from the hut before heading down into some thick valley fog. After a quick downhill section we put on the skins and started heading up to the first col, the Col d'Eveque. It felt like a relatively gentle climb but we couldn't see through the pea soup to know what was coming up. Occasionally we caught glimpses of peaks as the fog rolled in and out and we could also see that there was a long, long line of people in front of us. We were on a glacier and at one point all of the groups ahead of us stopped and roped together. James decided we'd be OK without, we were far enough back that any issues would be discovered before we got to them. As we climbed, the fog gradually cleared and by the time we got to the top of the pass, it was a glorious day with blue sky, sunshine, no clouds and no wind.

We took off the skins and had a nice downhill ski before putting the skins back on and heading up to col number 2, the Col du Mont Brule. The ski to the base of the col was an easy walk through a valley but the col itself was quite steep. Definitely a job for the boot crampons! We strapped on the skis and headed up after letting some of the people ahead of us get over the col. We were not roped and didn't have a hand line on this one so one person slipping could have taken out a lot of people! We made it to the top and had a short break before heading back downhill for a short section. At this point we'd actually crossed over to Italy and had a very long, hot uphill climb over the Col de Valpelline to get back to Switzerland. It wasn't so steep that we couldn't do it with skins but it was definitely a long way up! But what a reward as we came over the top.

At first you could just see the tip of a mountain peaking from behind the edge of the col. It got larger until you could easily tell that it was the Matterhorn! We came over the col and onto a huge plateau beside the Matterhorn with a vast array of peaks in every direction. We could also see back over the cols we'd climbed. It was a perfect day to be there, no wind, blue sky and great views. We enjoyed some time there, taking photos and having a snack before getting ready for the last part of the trip. We still had 13 km to go, all downhill along the shoulder of the Matterhorn and the Dent de Herens. It was later in the afternoon and James was getting worried about the conditions so we couldn't take too much time to ogle on the way down. Unfortunately Pam was struggling a bit with the downhill sections. Her pack was throwing her around (too much peanut butter left!) and she was having difficulty skiing in the breakable crust. Lots of tumbles today! James J also had a particularly nasty fall in some hard, crusty snow. When he stood up and brushed himself off there was blood streaming down his face from the cuts on his nose. His only comment was "can someone please tell me which part of my body I'm bleeding from?! One of Pam's falls took place directly in front of Bob C and caused him to turn sharply which caused his ski to fly off down the mountain in a different direction from where we were going. So much for ski brakes! Dale mounted a ski rescue while the rest of us caught up with James B to let him know what was happening. It wasn't ideal timing as the avalanche conditions were definitely getting worse but for those of us who were waiting for the rescuer and rescuee, we had a nice break in the perfect spot to ponder the Matterhorn while sitting on our packs! From that point on the skiing was much easier, more of a downhill glide. We eventually came to a road which we walked up for about 15 minutes carrying our skis before we arrived at one of the outdoor patios on the Zermatt ski hill. We plunked ourselves down and ordered beer (size Gros as we were now in the German speaking part of Switzerland). That was mighty fine tasting beer, drunk while sitting in a great spot below the Matterhorn! Had we realized that we still had a bit more skiing to do to get to the top of the tram we may have ordered smaller beers (or maybe not). Pam was definitely a bit wobbly on her skis after a litre of beer!

We took the Matterhorn Express gondola down to Zermatt and walked to the Alpenblick Hotel. It was a great hotel and Zermatt is a wonderful little town! After getting cleaned up (the others needed it a lot more than we did) and rinsing some clothes out so that we had something slightly less smelly to put on in the morning, we headed out for a celebratory dinner. Apparently the restaurant owners couldn't tell we'd cleaned up, they put us in the back corner! We started with bubbly (Prosecco), then moved to beer, then moved to wine. Had a terrific meal complete with Coup Denmark for desert and re-lived an unforgettable day. James had told us that the last time he was in Zermatt he'd gone to a bar where an "androgynous dwarf" was singing. On the way back to the hotel we passed by a bar and sure enough, there he was. Playing the piano and trumpet, singing and generally hamming it up. Couldn't help but stop and watch the show for a while!

James' original itinerary had us hanging out in Zermatt for part of the day before catching a bus or shuttle back to Chamonix. But he's got a different plan in mind for tomorrow so we're going to get a bonus day of skiing in!

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