to Zermatt by the Classic Route
Seven: Bertol Hut to Zermatt
As we had breakfast everyone else was rushing around, sorting gear
and getting ready to move out. We sat having extra cups of tea. It
was then I noticed the guardian, a big man with a large hairy beard,
looking at us in a quizical way. I ignored it for a while until he
called out to us. He was wondering where we were going, what we were
planning to do, but more particularly, when. I think he wanted to
clear the hut so he could go back to bed for a while before going
So we packed our gear and went out ino the dark, back down the steps
and down onto the snow on the east side of the ridge. Another large
team was finishing tying into a rope and moving away as we got roped
up, the lights in the hut shining bright in the early dawn.
Our route took us up the Gl du Mont Miné. I led off and roughly
followed the line of the teams in front. We were all heading for the
Tête Blanche (3724m). We took a rising line, moving round to
the south east then south. I set out at a reasonable pace and it wasn't
long before we were passing one or two of the parties which had set
out earlier. We crossed a large flat area, until under the Col des
Bouquetins we turned eastward as the gradient increased. As we climbed,
the morning sun greeted us and it wasn't long before we were rewarded
with one of the most memorable sights around, as
the Dent d'Herens and the Matterhorn began to reveal themselves. To
get to the Tête Blanche summit we turned south and in only a
few minutes we came to an open stoney summit with superb views all
around. We were the second team to arrive there.
What a view point this is. Not only were the Dent d'Herens and the
Matterhorn almost within touching distance,but
around Zermatt is the most magnificent collection of 4000m peaks.
We stood there with our map identifying these peaks , quite a few
of which we had climbed, with other friends, in earlier years.It brought
back many memories....
Other teams arrived as we had a bite to eat. There was no rush. The
route was all downhill from her. There was superb mountain atmosphere
to take in and I wanted to make the most of it, plus, there were some
photos I wanted to take as well.
Our route down took us northwest towards the Col d'Herens, turning
off east onto the Stockjigletscher, heading for the Stockji, a large
lump of rock in the middle of the glacier. There were plenty of tracks
around and we joined, in descent, the route taken by people climbing
up to the Tête de Valpelline. The snow was soft under the brilliant
sunshine and a handful of people were still going up in the heat,
I didn't envy them, but still the surroundings were superb.
As we approached the Stockji the glacier dried out and we had to negociate
our way through the final section which was well crevassed. There
was no real difficulty, but we did take care to watch where we were
going and work our way off the glacier and onto the Stockji at around
Pt 3041 on the western side of the rock.
The rope and crampons were put away. The path led off south and around
to the eastern side of the Stockji. Part way down the eastern side
we crossed a small stream of water and stopped for a minute to have
a drink, whilst
looking up at the Matterhorn rising right above us. Then thoughts
of beer, cakes, steak, shower and a comfy bed came to mind!
As we reached Pt2624 we noticed a family of Chamois on slopes up to
our left. Two adults and two young. They were watching us for a minute
then took off, straight up, on very steep ground. We left the Stockji
at Pt2624 and got on to the Zmuttgletscher. There are three ways to
gain the path which leads to the Schönbielhutte. One is to go
north up the glacier, to reach the path and come back southwest to
the hut. This seemed to us out of the way and was rejected.
Another way is to gain the rocks below the hut and climb these, again
this was rejected as the rocks looked quite tricky, especially with
heavy rucksacks on our backs.
The last option, which we took, was to follow the glacier east until
we could find an easy path out up the bounding morraine wall on the
left. It was quite tricky to find a reasonable way through the rocks.
In places there were obvious tracks or small cairns to follow, but
mostly it was just working out the best way through, being very careful
as many rocks are lose and can roll onto your leg. (I know I still
have the scar to prove it!)
At around Pt2426 we found a way off the glacier and gained the path,
which we followed down until, at the power station area, we had to
stop for a rest and some food and water.
Below this point it is just a question off working out the shortest
way into Zermatt. When every signpost has four fingers all pointing
in different directions and all saying Zermatt, this is not as simple
as it sounds.
Well, we were back in "civilisation". The streets of Zermatt were
busy, but as we walked by the grockles, I felt very pleased that we
had completed the route. Again I couldn't help thinking of the evening
Pete, Stuart and I, had walked this way after having climbed the Matterhorn,
to us we were the kings of Zermatt that night and there was a similar
I had stayed in the Hotel Bahnhof before, across the street from the
station, so we headed there to check into the bunkroom.
The hotel had been good before, but a new bunkroom had been provided
on the ground floor and it was excellent accommodation.
Bill was first to the shower and I was left to peel of my socks and
gear in anticipation. "Aren't showers brilliant?" Especially when
you've not washed for a week!
Another nice thing about the Hotel Bahnhof is that there is a bar
right next door with a nice little terrace. We were in there, as soon
as we had dried off, downing a couple pints, which felt quite strong!
Bill had to have an ice cream, so ice creams it was, as we walked
up the main street window shopping and recceing restaurants for a
slap up meal.
We checked out the times of the trains in the morning to take us back
to Chamonix. The best time was 8.10am so we wouldn't be able to have
a lie in.
(Via Visp, Martigny and on to Les Houches, the ticket cost SFr87 each,
with the highlight being the train over the border from Martigny to
Chamonix. Time in Cham 13.10pm)