Tignes Off Piste Jan 2004

Gogarth Climbing June 04


The Haute Route

Chamonix to Zermatt by the Classic Route
August 2001

Day Three: Champex to the Valsorey Hut

Bourg St Pierre
Through the fields to the Valsorey Hut We woke to a beautiful blue sky without a single cloud and after breakfast we had some items to buy. Bill had lost his trainers which he was carrying for hut use and we needed a short rope. Also Bill again had forgotten to put the insoles into his boots - replacements had to be found. There is a good sports shop called Look on the main street, where we were able to buy a 20 metre rope suitable for glacier travel, got some boot insoles and flip flops. Our excess gear was left at the hotel, to be picked up next week and we awaited the bus to go down to Orsierres (SFr7.40 each). At Orsierres we got another bus to Bourg St Pierre (SFr9 each). We arrived there at 12am. The village was very quiet as everywhere had just shut for lunch. From the top end of the village we picked up the signs for the Valsorey Hut (4 hrs) following it gently through fields and pasture. It was a lovely walk and we eventually reached the Chalet d'Amont where a herd of cows grazed lower Below the Chalet d'AmontTowards the Velan Hutdown on the flat river bed. As we climbed we reached the small gully, which contains the ladders and chains to simplify the climb. Above, we began to meet some people descending from the hut and as we reached the small, flat area before the final climb, we took a few minutes to rest, look around and have a drink. Across the valley was the Velan Hut, and the mountain scenery surrounding us was superb. We could see the distant route of tomorrow's climb to the Plateau du Couloir, but the hut itself was at the end of a 300m climb. Above all, the Grand Combin was hidden from view. Up to ValsoreyHut, Grand Combin and route to Plateau du CouloirOn the climb up the path to the hut, Bill began to show his speed uphill as he soon pulled away. I decided there was no need to rush and rested whenever I felt it necessary. Anyway it gave Bill the time to set up his video shots of me approaching the hut, but I couldn't be too slow as there was a party of three in front of me including one lady, well into her seventies and I couldn't arrive after her!
It was great to get to the hut. Bill suggested a beer. Er! Were such things allowed? I thought they weren't. Wasn't the cost just too great? Well, Bill had the cash, so we had a beer at SFr4.50 a can. (Coke can size) We sat on the 'verandah' supping beer, RangeMont Blanc from the Valsorey Hutrelaxing in the afternoon sunshine, feeling good after the walk up in guide time. After the beer we had a walk up the path behind the hut, following the cairns to the snow, trying to suss the route to take in the morning. There were only nine people staying in the hut that night and we all shared one table for our evening meal. One couple were just staying the night and then going down, The party of three women (mother, daughter and guide) had been planning Mont Blanc through the afternoon haze to visit the Velan Hut the following night, but it looked as if it would be a bit too much for the mother and they too would descend in the morning (it was a superb achievement for her to reach the hut and she was well pleased). The other two were a guide and client, up to climb the Grand Combin. The food was excellent, loads of soup, pork steaks with pollenta and green beans, and tinned peach and pear to finish. Plenty of water came from the fountain outside.
As we were to leave early, we paid our bill which came to SwFr102, plus SwFr9 for the two beers.
Later the guardian called everyone outside as he had spotted a small group of chamois about two hundred yards away from the hut. But the temperature was dropping rapidly and after the warmth of the sun earlier, I soon found it freezing (I'm sure not literally) outside.


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David Mercer2001