Haute Route Glacier Trek - Day 5
Day to day description, map and photos

Day 5 - Vignettes hut to the Bertol hut

On the trail up to the Plans de Bertol. We climb beside, then high above the Bas Glacier d'Arolla. The icefall of the Glacier du Mont Colon can be seen behind.

Another big day, with almost 1200 meters of climbing split between two sections. The first is on our climb up to the Col de l'Evêque, which we reach with a long but gentle glacier ascent. With an early start, we should arrive at the Col in time to greet the morning sun. We then have a moderately long descent of the Haute Glacier d'Arolla, mostly fairly easy but with one steeper step at about 3200 meters.

From the glacier terminus, we continue down another 2 kilometers of gentle but occasionally rocky trail to a fork at about 2510 meters. Our second climb of the day starts here, from the Plans de Bertol up to the hut. This is a big 800 meter climb, with little of it on glaciers. However it poses challenges of its own!

Looking up, we can now see our goal, the Bertol hut on its audacious perch high above. Our trail soon peters out among morainal boulders, glacier-polished slabs and half-buried ice remnants of the nearly extinct Bertol Glacier. The going gets tougher as we clamber up boulders and progressively steeper snow. One brief section of ladders helps us surmount a short section of rocky cliffs. A last push up fairly steep snow brings us at last to the Col de Bertol. Now its just a few short minutes of steep ladders to the hut.

This day's effort is rewarded by entirely new vistas. The Bertol hut overlooks an immense glacier plateau to the east feeding the Mont Miné and Ferpècle glaciers. Across this plateau the Dent Blanche dominates the view. The upper half of the Matterhorn peaks over the top of the snows, tantalizingly close now.

On the climb up to the Bertol hut. This picture was taken late in the season, in September, when the glacier had lost all its snow-cover and appears as a rocky slope. Earlier in the year, much of the upper glacier will remain snowy, and offer generally easier walking.

Arriving at the Col de Bertol. The improbably situated Bertol hut perches on its rock tower above. A series of ladders and stairs around to the right give access to this well-defended hut.
Day 5 - Vignettes hut to Bertol hut
total vertical gain
1154 m
3785 ft
total vertical loss
1003 m
3290 ft
max elevation
3377 m
11,077 ft
minimum elevation
2510 m
8233 ft
13.5 km
8.4 miles



The trail sign at the Plans de Bertol. The white-red-white trail markers indicate a normal trail, while the white-blue-white markers are reserved for an "alpine" route, often off-trail or unmarked routes on glaciers. Our route to the Bertol hut becomes "alpine" not far above this spot.

Continue on to Day 6.....