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January 2, 2011

Touring The Haute Route, Zermatt to Chamonix

Tete Blanche, Walliser Alps, Switzerland

The crossing of the Walliser Alps, from the Matterhorn to the Mont-Blanc, is an epic adventure. Beyond our backcountry skiing ability but too good an opp to turn down!

While technically, the Haute Route is not difficult, brutal 4 to 6 hour climbs take a lot out of you. Go in April or May, when the days are longer, so you have the extra time to rest your legs before these epic descents. Because that's where the big fun begins.

Seven unforgettable days, breath taking views and pristine powder as we tackle the ups and downs to Chamonix: 
  • Day 1: Make the 90 minute climb up to the Britannia hut 9,900 feet.
  • Day 2: From the Britannia hut we make the 5 hour climb up to the Adler pass. Skiing the steeps down to Zermatt.
  • Day 3: Hop on a cable car in Zermatt (5300 feet) with the cable-car to the Klein-Matterhorn (12,600 feet.) Head up to Breithorn (13,745 feet.) Lock in your skis and drop down to Schwarzsee (8,525 feet.) Finish the day with a 2-hour climb up to the Schönbiel Hut (8,900 feet.)
  • Day 4: Begin your morning from the Schönbiel Hut, making a 5-hour climb up to the Tête Blanche (12,245 feet.) Rest up for an epic descent. Then make the short half-hour climb to Cabane de Bertol (10,900 feet.)
  • Day 5: Roller coaster. Ski down from Cabane de Bertol, climb up to the Col de l’Evêque 11,200 feet, 5 hours.) Ski down and then make the short one-hour climb to the Cabane des Vignettes (10,420 feet.)
  • Day 6: Ski down from Cabane des Vignettes to the Otemma glacier. Climb to the Fenêtre de Durand (9,230 feet, takes about 3 hours.) Ski down the Glacier (to 5,100 feet.) Enjoy a sauna and a soft mattress in Courmayeur. You've earned it.
  • Day 7: No work, all play. From Courmayeur, travel by cable-car to the Hellbronner (11,424 feet.) Drop into the Vallée Blanche and your final destination, Chamonix (3,400 feet.)
Tip: Spend what little money you have left at the Restaurant Matafan, in Chamonix. Medallions of veal in a white truffle sauce will make you think you died and went to heaven. Bonus: a wine cellar the size of Mont Blanc.

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