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

Chamonix to Zermatt by the Classic Route
August 2001

Day Seven: Bertol Hut to Zermatt

Roping up at dawn, Aig de la TsaUp the Gl du Mt Miné to Aig de la Tsa 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 flying.
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 As we climb the Matterhorn reveals itself 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,Dave on the summitBill on the summitbut 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....Dave, The Matterhorn & the Dent d'HerensPte de Zinal
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.
Approaching the Stockji 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 Down the Zmuttgletscher, Schonbielhutte (left). Alphubel, Allalinhorn, Rimpfischhorn and Strahlhorn above 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 feeling today.
Relaxing at the Hotel Bahnhof 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)
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David Mercer2001