Chamonix to Zermatt on Ski’s. Probably the most famous ski tour of it’s kind? I’ve always wanted to try ski touring in the alps, the only stuff I have done in the past was a few routes across the Cairngorms (although one was an epic three day adventure staying in bothy’s; I highly recommend this!) Eventually we got around to booking the time off and even the flights. However, rather typically that was as far as our planning got.
Fast forward to the night before our flight, all we had managed to achieve with regards to organisation was a large pile of equipment. The pile was made smaller, until we were semi confident that it may fit within with Easy Jets stringent weight allowance. Next was a leisurely drive to llandudno junction train station, where we promptly missed our train to Liverpool airport. Not to worry, a phone call to a friend should sort this. We caught the next train to Liverpool to sleep on a mates floor.
A brief morning bus ride sore us arrive at Liverpool airport. “Sorry sir, but we don’t have a 11:25 to Geneva, your ticket is from Manchester, not Liverpool” You could see her face cringe as she said this, waiting for me to have an inevitable humiliating break down. “Ohh, ok not to worry” I guess when you fly by the seat of your pants you get used to slight hiccups in the plan. Her face was a picture to be seen, as we calmly cluncked away, ski boots on feet.
The bad new’s was followed by a somewhat interesting taxi journey to Manchester, where we caught our flight with time to spare.
In Chamonix our organisation did not really improve. We had bagged a lap down the Valle Blanche, then spent the afternoon sport climbing before we realised it would be a good idea to plan the tour. The weather window suggested we should leave the following day. A frantic lap around town to pick up all the necessary items, and we were ready – well kind of.
Armed with a plan, which consisted of getting to Zermatt as fast as we could, whilst spending as little money as possible, we stepped off the Grands Montets lift.
Thirty minuets later, skins on, ready for our first climb. The click clack skinning noises lasted all of 5 seconds. Mikes binding was broke. A quick mmm and rrrrrr over what to do, it was decided Mike would ski back to Chamonix, and the drive around to Champex (with fixed ski’s). Where with a bit of luck, Tom and I would be by around 4 or 5 pm.
The first day was of things to come, headaches, and heavy breathing – from me at least. The weather was glorious as were the divine views, but with few clouds around to offer shade, our brow’s had a permeant drip of sweat. By the time we made it to Champex, any area’s of skin (of which there were lots) that had not seen sun cream were now a bright shade of red.
That evening we drove to Bourg St Peirre where we slept rough by the car, enjoying the luxuries that Mike had bought us.
Day two started (1650M) with a long slog up hill, and kept going, and going, and going. Eventually we made it to the Cabane de Valsorey hut 3030m. We decided we would push on and make it to the Bivowak situated just above the Plateau du Couloir 3664m. On hind seight this was a bad idea. The boys made good pace up the steep snow slope, where as I just came to a sluggish halt some three quarters of a way up. Lungs heaving, head pounding, stomach wanting to empty itself, completely dehydrated from the heat of the day and struggling to adapt to our epic height gain. Done in. Lucky for me, I have caring friends, who came and dragged my skis and sack up the last part of the dangerously sun baked slope – thanks :)
On top was a wonderful 6 person bivouac, empty and free for us to use. The first few hours were a little hit and miss, with me being a bit of a wetter, throwing up, and generally feeling rotten. But after some mushroom soup, everything sorted itself out, leaving us perched on our high roost to enjoy the most magical sunset.
Day three procceeded as the others had, hard work in blistering sunshine, covering a pretty epic amount of distance with the added perk of ticking off Pigne d’Arolla 3796m. This time we treated ourselves at the Cabane des Vignettes, with a hearty meal. Unfortunately thats as far as the treats went. Back out into the cold, more click clacking, for another hour or so, until we reached the top of a welcoming col, flooded with moon light and glorious night time views.
5am could not come round fast enough. Tom had doug himself a snow grave where he layed shivering in his Bivvy bag. Where as Mike and I uncomfortably spooned in the tight constraints of his single skin tent. Each time one of us would roll over, an icy draught would sweep under the one sleeping bag that draped over us, matters only made worse by my limp holed thermarest.
Tent packed away, bags on, we were all set for our last day. With only Two cols left, the up hill part of the day was soon done, leaving us to enjoy the epic down hill section back to Zermatt, treated with great snow conditions, it could not have been a better end to the trip.
All in all we spent €100 each, this also included our transport back to Chamonix, (Tom manned up for an epic hitch back to collect the car) A great adventure!
A small price to pay: