Tignes Off Piste Jan 2004
Gogarth Climbing June 04
The Haute Route

Chamonix to Zermatt by the Classic Route
August 2001

Day Six: Vignettes Hut to the Bertol Hut

Gl du Mt Collon to Col de L'Eveque Ht Gl d'Arolla to the Bouquetins There was no great rush to get up really early, but everyone was up for breakfast together. The two British guys we had chatted to last night had decided against trying L'Eveque again and were going down together. The Scandinavians and another British couple were going for the Pigne. We set off after them, heading back along the track we had come in on, onto the Gl du Mt Collon and over to the Col de l'Eveque. It was a nice gentle rising line which brought us into the sunshine as we approached the col and crossed over onto the Haut Gl d'Arolla. We met some people coming up from the other side, but as we descended we had to move over to the right as we had approached a steep crevassed area. Ahead was the Ht Gl d'Arolla to the Bouquetin HutMoving down Ht Gl d'ArollaBouquetin range and below it on a small hill the Bouquetin Hut, a small un-guardianed hut where I had stayed in '96 on the tour over to Zermatt. At the base of the ridgeline of La Vierge, a break for food and drink was called for. The route continued down the right hand side of the glacier, a series of aluminium poles showing the line. Looking back up the galacierFrom the plateau back up the route, Ht Gl d'ArollaWe leave the glacier withthe Pigne aboveEventually, we came to the lateral moraine and took a line which led us to a small plateau at Pt2616 below the Plans de Bertol. Again, it was time for some sustenance. By now the temperature has risen greatly, the sun beat down from a clear blue sky and I had to find some shade behind a large rock.
Bill set off and rounded a corner. I was a minute behind and on getting round the corner, he was nowhere to be seen. I carried on and found a decent track to follow which brought me out just above a small cabin at the Plan de Bertol. This appeared to be a popular Sunday walk Above Plan de Bertol and across to Vignette Hut Above Plan de Bertol and across to Vignette Hut & Pigne destination from Arolla as there were quite a few people around. A good path led up crossing a couple of streams and providing the opportunity to have a good drink and stock up on water supplies (I'd saved a plastic bottle from the Vignette Hut). It was then I spotted Bill on the path some way ahead. Eventually, as height was gained the path led into a jumble of boulders and the route was marked by red circles painted on Up to the Bertol Hut prominent rocks. The route moved to the right as the rocks began to be mixed with ice and a short rocky section was passed to lead to very soft snow leading all the way up to the buttress on which sat the Bertol Hut. I looked up to a A black dot (Bill) is below the Bertol Hut traverse line just below the hut and could see a black dot about a quarter of the way across. It was Bill and he was almost there. The hut was another popular destination and there were tracks in the soft snow leading up. They were like a ladder until a very inconsiderate person came sliding down the line, completely obliterating a section of steps. I was less than pleased and made my feelings known as I started to make my own steps upwards. As height was gained, strange sounds drifted through the air and I realised someone was playing a flugelhorn. It was a very pleasant moment on the climb.
Eventually I gained the traverse line and I waited as two British women came across. Earlier in the morning they had climbed the Aig. de la Tsa and now were descending to Arolla. When I was below the hut Bill shouted down from the terrace. He was going to do some filming of my arrival and climb up to the hut.
The Bertol Hut The way up to the hut leads over a metal platform to a set of metal steps leading up the side of the hut. After the distance we had travelled today, it needed quite an effort to get up them. Bill had already booked us in. As he was first in he had choice of bunk and he lead the way down a short steep staircase inside to our dorm. The view was superb. The Dent Blanche from the dorm windowt After settling in we adjourned to the dining room and Bill got the beers in again. This room has almost 270° views and as we savoured our beer we tried to identify all the surrounding mountains.
Some of our gear needed drying out, so we went out to the terrace and lazed in the afternoon sun. Apparently the flugelhorn player was the guardian, Bill had been stood on the terrace while he had been playing and had witnessed the whole performance. There were few other people around, but from our vantage point we could watch as others toiled up the snowy slopes below us, as we had done shortly before.
Although water has to be bought at the Bertol (hence saving bottles from the Vignettes and filling them below), the guardian does have a small supply line set up to a crag at the back of the hut. This line must have been damaged recently as four climbers were out on the rock trying to make repairs. It The Dent Blanche from the terraceprovided quite a bit of interest and entertainment, watching them aid around the rock faces in order to clear away some broken sections of piping. More people began to arrive and the terrace became quite busy. Our view stretched round from the Pigne, to the Dent Blanche and around to the Dent d'Herens and the Matterhorn as its summit was revealed and then hidden in cloud.The Pigne d'Arolla from the terraceThe Matterhorn & Dent d'Herens over the Dents de Bertol
By the time we went to the dining room for our meal there must have been about thirty peolpe in the hut. As we ate we chatted or listened in to other conversations.It appeared that there were two groups of people staying overnight. Some people were up to climb to the Tête Blanche and others were up to paraglide. It turned out that the guardian was into paragliding and the discussion was about the difficulties and dangers of flying in the high mountains. A couple opposite us at the table were enquiring about the problems of the route up to the Tête Blanche. From the questions it sounded as if this was the first time they had done any walking on glaciers and didn't even have an ice axe.
Bertol sunset Bertol sunset As usual there was plenty to eat and we weren't left hungry. As the evening light began to dim most people went out onto the terrace to watch as the sun set. It was quite a sight as a pink light spread itself over the glaciers. (Cost for two was SwFr92)
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David Mercer2001