British Mountaineer Paul Swail is a IFMGA Mountain Guide - the highest recognised mountaineering qualification in the world. With this, Paul is able to offer off-piste skiing, touring, heli-skiing, ice climbing, and all sorts of wonderful ways to enjoy the Alpine environment. Paul is offering a fantastic opportunity to join him on a 6-day touring trip, starting on 24th March between Chamonix and Zermatt - the legendary Haute Route. One of the TG Ski Directors has done this route and described it as “epic” and one for the bucket list! Paul is no stranger to Meribel, and if touring is your thing, we’re happy to make enquiries as to his availability for other trips during your stay with us.
The Classic Ski Haute Route. Chamonix – Zermatt
You would need to be able to skin up 1200m of ascent per day and ski red/ black runs with confidence.
Sunday 24th March 2019
Before setting off on the Haute Route, we do a warm up and training day. The
aim is for you to get in a day’s acclimatisation, enjoy some good skiing and
refresh on your touring skills. During the day we will recap on skinning and kick
turns, do some transceiver training and either some crampon and ropework, or
Typically ~400m ascent, 2000m descent ~5-6hrs
Grand Montets to the Trient Hut or Albert Premier Hut
Due to the recent fire at Grand Montets the access to the Argentiere glacier will
be from the mid station. From the glacier a choice of routes now presents itself –
either the Col du Chardonnet or Col du Passon. We will follow which ever route
is in best condition, as both lead on to either the Swiss border and the Trient Hut,
or the Le Tour Glacier and the Albert Premier Hut. This first day is quite long,
with 1050m of climb and a couple of sections of roped climbing on foot –
however the views and high mountain ambiance are amazing.
1050m ascent, 1200m descent ~7-8hrs
Val D’Arpette – Verbier – Prafleuri Hut
The day begins with a few hundred metres of descent down the right bank of the
Trient Glacier, followed by a short boot track to reach the Col des Ecandies at the
top of the Val D’Arpette.
This deep, north facing valley gives a wonderful long ski run right down to
Champex, where we meet a pre arranged minibus to take us the few kilometers
down the valley to the Verbier lift system. After lunch on the slopes in Verbier, if
heading to the Prafleuri Hut we set off in the afternoon to traverse 3 cols with
short descents in between, which leads to the glacier below the Rosablanche and
a good north facing decent down to the Prafleuri Hut – this is a long day and we
usually arrive at the hut around 5pm.
700m ascent, 2400m descent ~8-9hrs.
Prafleuri to Dix Hut
From the Prafleuri Hut, an hours skinning leads to the Col des Roux, where the
long descending traverse above the Lac de Dix begins. This section of the route is
south facing, so in warm weather, must be completed early in the day. On paper
this is quite a short day from the Prafleuri Hut, but the uphill finish in the
afternoon heat makes it feel much harder. Luckily the Dix Hut is in a superb
position, with a great sunny terrace where you can enjoy the view and a well
earned beer before dinner.
900m ascent, 600m descent ~5-7hrs
Pigne D’Arolla to Vignettes Hut
At 3790m, the Pigne D’Arolla marks the highest point reached on the trip and is a
wonderful viewpoint across the whole of the Western Alps.
The ascent from the Dix Hut involves 900m of climb and takes about 3 hours,
passing through some steep glacier terrain, including the passage of the
Serpentine, which often has to be climbed on foot.
From the summit, it’s a 600m descent down to the Vignettes Hut, which lies
perched in a spectacular position on a rocky ridge crest. Here again, in the right
conditions it’s sometimes possible to take a different line in order to find fresh
950m ascent, 700m descent ~4hrs
Final Day to Zermatt
The final day of the Haute Route is always one of the most memorable days out
in any ski mountaineers career – crossing three cols and six glaciers, with a final
huge descent down to Zermatt under the North Face of the Matterhorn.
An early start is required to make the first climb up the Col de L’Eveque, before a
nice descent and second climb up to the Col du Mont Brule. The final section of
this is steep and frequently climbed on foot.
From the Col Brule, the Col Valpelline doesn’t look that far away, but it always
takes a good two hours to reach. Cresting the final col, the Matterhorn rears up
ahead, opening the way to the final 1900m descent down the Stockji and Zmutt
Glaciers to Zermatt.
750m ascent, 2400m descent ~8-10hrs from the Vignettes
Spare Day – to allow for weather delays.
If we reach Zermatt on Friday, then Saturday will be a spare day to ski off
piste/tour either in Zermatt or Chamonix. PM Overnight in Chamonix valley.
Sunday 31st March
Return travel should be arranged on Sunday morning, after your final nights
Price and what is included?
All IFMGA guiding fees
Guides hut fees and uplift
4 hut nights on the Haute Route
What is not included?
Accommodation in the valley outside of 4 hut nights
For more information about Paul’s experience, training and exciting tours, check out his website http://www.paulswailguiding.com/