Plateau Haute Route day to day description, map and photos

Day 6 - Cabane de Chanrion to Cabane des Vignettes

There are a number of variations to this day. Our goal is the Vignettes hut and all routes end there. Our favorite route is to climb over Les Portons, a high col, with exceptional views. From here, a quick descent to the north brings us to the upper Glacier du Brenay. Gentle slopes lead to the summit of the Pigne d'Arolla. The Pigne usually offers a great descent down to the Vignettes Hut.

This is a very fine day, long and varied but with incredible views throughout. There is one short section where we normally have to carry our skis, the crossing of the Col Nord des Portons. One of its pleasures is the great ski down the Pigne d'Arolla at its end.

If the weather is not good we will be unable to climb over the Pigne, and, instead, ascend the long Glacier d'Otemma. We cross the broad Col de Chermotane and then up to the Vignettes Hut. This route up the Otemma is easier, quicker, and also a good alternative for particularly tired skiers.

Both routes are marked on the map to the right. All the photos on this page are from the Les Portons route.

Day 6 - Cabane de Chanrion to Cabane des Vignettes
1485 meters
4871 feet
778 meters
2581 feet

On the Plateau du Couloir Route. Not far from the Chanrion on hut we enter the valley of the Glacier du Brenay, which can be seen here. The peak on the right is La Serpentine. The Verbier variation, lies just on the other side.


This photo is looking west, down the slope which leads up to Les Portons. The Chanrion hut is down and around the corner to the left, directly behind the peak of the Pointe d'Otemma seen here. This slope with the three skiers is longer than it looks!


We have finally arrived at the high level area of Les Portons. This area seems like a bit of an anomaly, a gentle table perched high on a steep ridge. The wandering along this miniature plateau is one of the things that makes the Portons variation special.


This photo was taken from near the same location as the previous. Here we are looking east, to the Evêque and the Matterhorn, far in the distance. In just a short way we will turn hard left and climb a short steep slope to the Col Nord des Portons.


Looking down the Col Nord des Portons. The steepest part of this climb is out of view behind. If conditions dictate, we will rope up for this section.


The upper Glacier du Brenay. On the very left side of the photo is a smooth snow slope. This is what we descended (on skis) from the Col Nord des Portons. From here, gentle slopes lead up to the summit of the Pigne d'Arolla.


Skiing down from the Pigne d'Arolla. The Vignettes hut, our destination for the day is out of view to the left. Tomorrow, we will ski up the gentle slopes of the Glacier du Mont Colon, seen here, before crossing our three cols and arriving in Zermatt.


The spectacularly perched Vignettes hut.

These are the slopes below and just north of the hut. One day when we arrived early, we could not resist taking a few runs down this great hill. Kathy and Roger look back at their handiwork.

Continue on to Day 7.....

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