The Haute Route

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The 5am start afforded a nice moonset view

From Bucky, March 12th,

“I’m planning a hut-to-hut ski trip from Chamonix to Zermatt April 14th to 21st….The guy from Jackson just bailed so we have an extra spot if you want / can join. You were on the extremely short list of people that can ski, would be fun to have along and might actually be able to swing this (you’re actually the only person on the list). I realize it’s totally last minute, but thought I’d reach out. We’re flying in and out of Denver.”

And with that, I asked work for another week off and bought a plane ticket.

I was woefully unprepared for this adventure, and I don’t recommend my planning to anyone – I was in nearly the worst shape of my adult life, I didn’t have the all requisite gear, and I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. Bucky, more so than any of my friends, has an amazing “ah, it’ll be fine attitude,” which is both comforting and terrifying. He sent me a video on what to pack and promised to lend me a harness, rope, crampons, and an ice axe. {Please notice the need for these items was not included in the original invitation.}

What I got myself into was the best trip of my life. No pictures will do justice to the true beauty of the Alps blanketed in snow. I didn’t take most of the pictures I’m sharing with you. I spent most of the trip panting to keep up (in my defense Bucky was a professional athlete and Dana our other Haute companion is an ultra runner x 10), freezing cold, or afraid I was going to fall off a mountain. My camera rarely came out. We spent a day or two in complete snowy whiteouts. As Bucky described it, “we’re in a ping pong ball!” I didn’t find it quite as amusing.

Forgoing a professional guide which is highly recommended, we started in Chamonix and skied our way up and over mountains to 6 huts – Argentiere, Trient, Mont Fort, Praflueri, Dix, Vignettes Hut. I’m not sure of the total mileage, but I have never been so tired in my entire life.

A learned a few things along the way: 1) when the guide book says you don’t need shoes other than ski boots, you shouldn’t carry the extra weight of sneakers 2) always have cash! 3) I thought I liked wine but I didn’t realize how much better wine can taste if it was flown in via a helicopter and enjoyed after climbing a mountain, spending 7 hours in a blizzard, and crying tears of fear and exhaustion. More importantly, this trip was a needed pause and reminder of how big the world is, and how blessed I am to have great friends willing to share in these adventures.

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Roped together to cross the crevasses.

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Sign should have also warned of the odor of 25 stinky men inside

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Our fearless “guide”

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Easter Sunday,  descending into Champex

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Vignettes Hut perched on the cliff

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Pizza style ski turns with a Matterhorn view.

 

 

4 thoughts on “The Haute Route

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