Posted: September 01, 2015
Author: Nancy Pellissier
150 years ago, a major number of Alps highest peaks were climbed for the first time. We refer to this period as the “conquest of the Alps”. This August we have organised a private alpinism trip with 1:1 guide to client ratio for the "haute route" traverse from Verbier to Zermatt, partly hiking and climbing summits along the way.
By planning such a trip in the Swiss Alps, eventhough it’s in the middle of the summer, you have to be ready to face the full spectrum of mountain weather. As temperatures can vary from 0 - 30 degrees C in August, we suggest to pack a variety of hiking clothes and layers. Your packable puffy jacket or warm fleece is your best friend and a must-have for such a trip.
Michael, our 20 year old client, very fit and ready for the challenge, was highly motivated to start this new adventure for his first visit to Europe. He arrived in Geneva airport and after a short transfer to Verbier, he could relax and recover from the jetlag at the W Verbier Hotel, the newest addition to Verbier's 5* hotels.
At lunch, Michael met with Antoine Darbellay, his mountain guide who would accomapny him to Zermatt. A few explanations about the itinerary, weather forecast and a quick visit to Verbier mountain shop to get the missing gear and the pair is ready to start their traverse the next day.
Weather forecast for the week was variable - some good days and possibly some snow at altitude. Of course the itinerary will be rediscussed every night for the following day and planned accordingly. Additionaly, Epic Europe staff would be available for logistics to meet them when they hike at a lower altitude to assist with extra heavy gear and transfers.
Day 1 - Chemin des Chamois
After a good night’s sleep, Michael met with his guide at the bottom of the lifts in Verbier. It’s pouring rain but the motivation is strong. They use the lifts to gain some altitude. From La Chaux, they start their hike towards the Col Termin, hiking on Chemin des Chamois. Switzerland looks like more like Scotland for the first hiking day. They make it to the Col (2’648m) and hiked down to Cabane de Louvie, a mountain hut set by a lovely alpine lake. As it is still raining hard, they decide to have lunch and warm themselves inside the hut. After a warm bowl of soup, they continue towards Fionnay and Lourtier where they spend the first night at the mountain lodge Hôtel & Spa La Vallée, soaking wet but happy to have the legs moving. Michael is super fit and Antoine can start planning accordingly for the next days.
Day 2 - Via Ferrata des Gorges de Mauvoisin & Cabane Chanrion
The next morning is bluebird and warmer. Heading up the Bagnes valley to Madzeria where they start a Via Ferrata. After lunch they hike to next mountain hut called Cabane Chanrion hut where they will spend the next night. It seems like the weather is looking great for the rest of their traverse.
Day 3 - La Ruinette ascent
First peak is on the program and as the weather is cooperating, Antoine decided it’s a go for climbing a peak despite the fresh snow that covered the mountain the previous day. They climbed a mountain called La Ruinette (3’875m). Both Antoine and Michael had a blast! After the descent they head down to Cabane des Dix, the next mountain hut. They are famous for their great collection of beer, a rarity when you are sleeping in the middle of the Alps at 2600m!
Day 4 - Pigne d’Arolla ascent
Quiet night at Cabane des Dix, only few beers to recuperate from the long day in the mountain, a hearthy dinner and a short night's sleep, Michael and Antoine are heading towards another peak climb today. They climbed the Pigne d’Arolla (3’790m). Another successfull and bluebird day in the Swiss mountains.
Day 5 - Hiking to Gruben
Today the weather was partly cloudy and after two days in a row climbing a peak, they decided to take an easier day today and hike for a couple of hours on a normal hiking trail. They crossed the Col de Torrent between the valleys of Evolène and Grimentz, culminating at an altitude of 2’918m. They are making their way to Zermatt and tonight spent the night in Gruben. The language border has been crossed, passing from French-speaking Valais, and from now on it’s Swiss-German (or I should say Oberwalliser Deutsch).
Day 6 - Turmtmanntal, St-Niklaus and arrival in Zermatt
Another partly cloudy day in the mountains but no major rain which helps a lot. Today’s program is to cross the Augstbordpass, a pass between Turtmanntal and Mattertal (Zermatt valley). After a long hike from Gruben to Jungen and finally to St-Niklaus, they shuttled to Zermatt. The next day's focus is to climb another peak. Arriving in Zermatt is always spectacular. After a couple of days in the mountains, it’s strange but nice to be back in civilisation, especially when you arrive in a car-free resort with dramatic peaks surrounding! A nice lunch and a relaxed afternoon in the village, already dreaming about next day's adventure.
Day 7 - Bretihorn ascent
For their last day on the mountain, Michael and Antoine benefit from a perfect bluebird day and perfect views on the freshly snow covered Matterhorn. They climbed the Breithorn (4’164m), Michael’s first 4000m peak! A great achievment and reward after a successful 7 days crossing the Swiss Alps. After a long hike back to Zermatt resort, Michael can finally enjoy a last night at, in our opinion, Zermatt’s best hotel, the Mont-Cervin Palace with great memories of the past couple of days.
Day 8 - Flying back home
Every good thing has an end. It’s time for Michael to fly back home. Michael has reported that he had a fantastic time on this trip, loved his guide and can’t wait to be back in the Alps!
Next summer, join Epic Europe to enjoy the Alps at their best with special itineraries designed to make you feel like a true pioneering alpinist yourself, with modern-day gear and comforts, of course. Custom trips for private groups and individuals, tailored to meet your abilities and strengths, achieving your own summit safely.