Day 1: Meeting Place - Cable Car "Les Grands Montets", Argentière, near the pay desks, at 08:00 a.m. From Argentière, the cable car brings us at the top of the Grands Montets Peak (10810 feet). The descent on the glacier of Argentière (8300 feet) follows the Rognon's ridge, at the foot of Aiguille Verte. We then climb up the Chardonnet glacier till the Chardonnet pass (10902 feet), on the Swiss border. From the pass, a fixed rope will help you to practice side-slepping in the short and steep gully located on the Swiss side of the pass. We traverse the Saleina glacier, and the easy Saleina pass (10718 feet). From this last pass, a splendid high plain gives access to Trient hut (10400 feet). This beautiful hut built with granite stones is held by our friend Thierry. The hut has a nice terrace, from where the view on the peaks of Trient circus is extraordinary. During this first stage, we will check your personal equipment, and we will apply the safety techniques used in ski touring. Duration of the stage is 5 to 6 hours. Difference of level is 3346 feet up, 3576 feet down.
Day 2: Today, no ascent, only descents. From the hut, the higher slopes of the glacier of Trient and the Écandie's pass give access to the snowfields of the Valley of Arpette. We reach Champex, height 4593 feet, typical Swiss village, built on the on banks of a tiny lake. We can visit the village, buy postcards, and have meal at the restaurant of the Alpine Club (optional). In the afternoon, a taxi - bus brings us to Verbier. By the lifts of the ski resort, we go up to the top of Gentianes cable-car (9852 feet). From there, we ski down to Mont-Fort hut (8061 feet). Duration of the stage is 2 hours. Difference of level is 98 feet up, 7546 feet down.
Day 3: This third stage is the longest of the tour. Through the passes of La Chaux (9646 feet) and Momin (9852 feet), we reach the glacier of the Great Desert, near the Mont Calme. Descent of the gully of Rosablanche (10499 feet), famous spot of "Patrouille des Glaciers" (a ski tour race from Zermatt to Verbier in one day!), and we reach the lake of Les Dix. We follow its western bank till Le Pas du Chat, and then begin our final ascent to the Dix hut (9606 feet), following the moraine of the glacier of Cheillon. After these 6 to 8 hours of ski, the terrace of the hut is a perfect place to drink Fendant Swiss wine. Duration of the stage is 6 to 8 hours. Difference of level is 4429 feet up, 2887 feet down.
Day 4: From the hut, we move towards Tsena Reifen peak. Ascent of the Serpentine slope, to reach the high plain of Arolla Pine. The summit of Arolla Pine (12454 feet) is the highest point of the tour, and can be reached easily with skis. From the summit, a nice way down leads us to the Vignettes hut (10479 feet) which looks like an eagle nest built on the top of a vertical wall. A very spectacular stage, with a magic view from Arolla Pine on all the Valais mountains. Duration of the stage is 5 hours. Difference of level is 3280 feet up, 2395 feet down.
Day 5: The most beautiful stage of all the Swiss ski tours. From the hut, ascent of the Bishop pass (11128 feet) on the Italian border. A short descent on the High Glacier of Arolla, near the Bouquetins hut, and then comes the steep ascent of the Mount - Brulé pass (10538 feet). We then traverse the wild glacier of Tsa de Tsan, a last ascent and we reach the pass of Valpelline (11706 feet), last difficulty of the day. Fantastic view on the Matterhorn. From the pass, 10 miles of descent on the glaciers of Stockji and Tiefmatten, then on the slopes of the mountain pastures of the valley of Zmutt, lead us to Zermatt, elevation 5295 feet. Duration of the stage is 7 hours. Difference of level is 3937 feet up, 9186 feet down. End of the course in the beginning of the afternoon, in Zermatt. Easy return by train to Visp, Lausanne, Paris or Argentière.
Our High Route, Chamonix-Zermatt ski tour:
- Since spring 2004, with the exception of two groups who were forced to stop in Arolla due to continuous bad weather in altitude, all our groups have reached Zermatt.
- According to the safety rules of the "Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix Mont-Blanc", we have chosen to post one mountain guide for six skiers maximum. This choice has been made for your safety, but it also provides a saving of time in the technical parts of the Haute Route.
- A departure on Monday: as most of the groups begin this tour on Sundays, our departures on Mondays enable us to profit from peaceful mountain huts.
- The classic and complete route: much more beautiful and wild than the shortened route which passes by the city of Arolla, the classic route by Mont Fort, Arolla's Pine and Valpelline pass has been chosen by us since 9 years. We did not choose the route which goes through Bourg Saint Pierre, more difficult, and often presenting high risks of avalanches.
- Mountain huts kept by hut keepers, places booked: you spend four nights in mountain huts, all kept, where your places are always booked. So you will not have to sleep on the ground, as it may happen in the tiny hut of PraFleuri. We chose to stop for night at Mont-Fort hut, which offers hot showers and small bedrooms with 4 or 6 beds. At Vignettes hut, we will also have hot showers.
- One night in Trient hut: on the first evening, you will spend the night in Trient hut, to ski with the best snow conditions. As the descent of the valley of Arpette, from Trient hut to Champex, can be dangerous in the afternoon, it is necessary to stop for the night in Trient hut: this will allow you to begin this descent on the next morning with excellent snow conditions, and to appreciate the warm welcome of our friend Olivier, Mountain Guide and Hutkeeper of Trient hut.
- Access to Mont-Fort hut by skiing down from top of Gentianes cable-car (9852 feet). Most of the groups go up by cable car till Les Attelas (8966 feet), from where after a short descent skiers must push on their poles for two flat kilometers till Mont-Fort hut. We chose to go up by cable car till the Gentianes pass (9852 feet), which offers a magnificent view on the Alps, and a nice descent down to Mont-Fort hut.
- The classic stage from Mont-Fort hut to Les Dix hut, to avoid the 5 miles entirely flat between Prafleuri hut and Les Dix hut.
- A departure guaranteed even if you are only five skiers, with no extra charge to pay.
- The stage from Vignette's hut to Zermatt: from the pass of Valpelline to Zermatt, 6500 feet of descent, two hours of exhilarating ski, with, in the afternoon, an easy return by train (not included in the price) to Chamonix, or to Paris via Lausanne. We chose not to stop in Schonbiel Hut during this way down, as going up to this hut needs one hour of difficult ascent, an exhausting effort in the end of a stage which includes the ascent of three passes. So, this stage will finish in Zermatt.
- Your Fench Mountain Guide speaks fluently English, and has skied many times the Haute Route.
- You can fill freely your water bottle with hot tea when leaving Dix hut and Vignettes hut.
- To go back from Zermatt to Argentière, we use to reserve, only for clients interested, a private minibus which is allowed to pick us right in the center of Zermatt. A minibus transfer is faster than a train transfer (2 hours 15 minutes instead of 4 to 5 hours by train) and costs the same price than train: 55 EUR per person.
- Your mountain guide will do everything possible to make this tour being a success. But, in high altitude, exceptional risks may exist: storms, avalanches, etc. Your guide, responsible for your life, may change the program of this training course for your safety.
- A skier having insufficient technique in ski touring and off-piste skiing, or going up much too slowly, creates great risks for the whole group. The mountain guide will decide to stop this skier in Champex if he thinks that his failures can create outstanding risks for the group. In this case, this skier will not be paid back for days 3, 4 and 5 of the tour, except for his journey back by bus and train from Champex to Argentière. The decision of the guide is irrevocable. So, make sure that your ski level and your fitness stick to the levels asked for this tour.
- The average time of a stage in this tour (ascents and descents) is five and a half hours per day. - The stages of the third and fifth days last approximately 7 hours.
* Technical level: tour reserved to very good skiers, perfectly experienced in off-piste skiing and in ski-mountaineering, requiring a very good control of your skis when going down, whatever the quality of snow may be (you can turn with skis parallel in deep powder snow), or when going up (half turns). The tour includes steep slopes. You also practice mountaineering, as you will have to ascent some summits of the tour using crampons and ice axe.
* Fitness level: you are in very good shape, practicing 3 times a week outdoor and endurance sports. The average pace is 1300 feet of rise per hour, with a difference of level climbed each day rising from 3280 to 4430 feet.
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