Plateau Haute Route day to day description, map and photos

Day 7 - Cabane des Vignettes to Zermatt

The climax of the trip, this challenging day takes us over three high cols, and rewards us with the long, pleasant slopes below the Matterhorn and down into Zermatt. We begin our day early in the cold dawn, but finish in the warm late afternoon skiing spring snow in the trees above Zermatt.

Our first pass, the Col de l'Evêque is an easy ski up the broad and gentle Mont Collon Glacier. From the col normally good snow is skied down until a small icefall forces us right and then down to the next bench of the glacier. More superb skiing leads down to the Arolla Glacier. Our next col, the Col du Mont Brulé is steep and often windblown, and depending on conditions we may elect to ascend it on foot.

After the Col du Mont Brulé comes one of the most isolated parts of the Haute Route. We traverse the Haut Tsa de Tsan Glacier, a high glacial bench on the Italian side of the ridge. Below us, the glacier flows south into a wild and deep canyon, seemingly inaccessible. A long and gentle ascent leads us to our last pass, the Col de Valpelline. As we arrive at the Col the amazingly sharp summit of the Matterhorn appears. Our run down the Stockji Glacier is tremendously varied and normally begins with dry winter snow, warming to spring corn as we descend. The route is complex as it weaves through crevasses, around the rocks of the Stockji itself and onto the lower Zmutt Glacier. The changing views of the Matterhorn on this long descent are memorable.

Finally, we reach Stafelalp, a welcome restaurant at the edge of the vast on-piste ski complex on the Zermatt side of the Matterhorn. After a welcome beer we weave our way down the easy ski run to Furi, just above Zermatt. If there is still enough snow on the ground we can ski all the way into town. If not, we jump on the lift for the quick ride to civilization. Then it's a hot shower and a good Swiss meal (along with the obligatory Dôle wine from the upper Rhône valley) to celebrate our trip.

Day 7 - Cabane des Vignettes to Zermatt
1134 meters
3720 feet
2694 meters
8836 feet

Sunrise from the Col de Chermotane. The Pigne d'Arolla is seen here. The Vignettes hut is just out of view to the right.


Looking the other direction form more or less the same place as the previous photo. Here we can see the Col de l'Evêque on the far right.


About an hour further along in the day, we near the Col de l'Evêque. The town of Arolla is down in the dark valley below. The Pigne d'Arolla is on the very left edge of the photo.
Here, we have crossed the Col de l'Evêque, and are enjoying the great north facing snow on our descent to the Haut Glacier d'Arolla. Below we will turn right for our climb up the Col du Mont Brulé.


Crossing the Col du Mont Brulé. On this trip, we had a good track and soft snow, so skiing up to the col was the method of choice.
Also on the Col du Mont Brulé. Firmer snow suggested that carrying the skis was a better choice than skinning up.


The top of the col Du Mont Brulé.


And looking the other direction, to the east. Behind is the gentle Haut Glacier de Tsa de Tsan. The Col de Valpelline is clearly seen. From the Col de Valpelline, it is virtually all downhill to Zermatt.


At the Col de Valpelline, the Matterhorn behind.


Ken pauses to take in the view. Here we are descending the Stockji Glacier under the north side of the Matterhorn.

The Matterhorn looms overhead on the lower part of the Stockji Glacier.


These ice cliffs are on the Dent d'Hérens. The Matterhorn is off to the left.


Finally, we arrive at the edge of the Zermatt ski pistes, at Stafelalp. Bill, Ken, Roger and Kathy toast to all the good things in life!

Continue on to Day 8.....

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