Thursday, July 19, 2012

Walker's Haute Route - Chamonix to Zermatt

A few days ago I got back from hiking the Haute Route.  I hiked the "classic" version of the route described in the Kev Reynolds guidebook, using two variations also from his book (one to take the Col de Sorebois and bypassing the Cabane de Moiry; and one to hike part of the Matteral valley to Zermatt because part of the Europaweg was closed).

And here are my favorites: 

I had a great time, and was very fortunate to be able to get out there and see a chunk of the Valais Alps.  Besides the obvious scenic beauty, and getting lucky with the weather (it's been unsettled in the mountains for much of the time we've been here, and then suddenly during the one week I could go hiking it cleared up), this became a special trip due to the particular set of circumstances that defined how I hiked the Route.

While I was pretty determined to hike the Haute Route - and likewise to only hike the Haute Route, as opposed to using the various easy and inexpensive methods of public transportation along the way (something I probably wouldn't do again) - I only had six days to hike instead of the recommended fourteen.  That packed a lot of sights, and a lot of elevation gain and loss (I've read approximately 120 miles and 39,000 feet of climbing), into those six days.  The word "session" gets overused (and appropriated), but that's what it was - in this case, an intense and unified trip played to a few simple and definite rules.

And that would be that - things are busy, it's already been a few days, and I've thrown up more photos than my ego should probably allow.  But I'm also going to write/post a day-by-day account of this thing, if nothing else as an excuse to post some of my "other" photos.  Sure, a lot of the Valais is rock/snow peaks and pastures, but it's also trucker culture:

The fact that the Verbier crest is apparently two women in a hot tub:

Armored personnel carrier camper caravans:

Extreme trail signs:

And thank goodness the Cravasseholes are still together after all these years:

As well as other topics, such as how my inherent American-ness prevents me from calling the Twara viewpoint the best view ever, why I'm terrible at stealth camping, and why Swiss cows don't just charge through the little ribbons farmers use to fence them in.  Stay tuned!

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