Haute Route Chamonix to Zermatt Trip

Classic Hut-to-Hut Ski Mountaineering in the Alps

by Rich Meyer Alpine Guide, Skiing, Climbing, & Avalanche Education

March 25-April 1 2013
Rich Meyer (in partnership with Dave Miller & International Alpine Guides) will be back in the Alps again this winter. Join us for a world class backcountry skiing adventure. Here’s a blog post I created after last seasons trip! If you make it to the bottom there is a link to more photos and to the IAG website. Cheers, Rich

Starting in Chamonix France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland, the Haute Route is often described as the ultimate European ski tour – and for good reason. It does not disappoint. There are a handful of variations of the route and some serious terrain, but it is VERY accessible for experienced backcountry skiers. The Alps are littered with high elevation mountain huts that allow you to travel from hut to hut with a very light pack. This is NOT backpacking on skis.

Ski touring from one glacier to the next, and from one hut to the next makes the Haute Route a unique experience. Most folks are blown away by the remote alpine beauty and massive terrain that does not ever seem to let up. Culminating on the final day with a brilliant ski descent down to town of Zermatt, with views of the Matterhorn the entire way.

While it is possible to ski the route own your own, most skiers elect to do the trip with a guide. The benefits of going guided are plentiful. The serious alpine terrain requires expertise in ski mountaineering, route finding, glacier travel & crevasse rescue, avalanche awareness, whiteout navigation, and a host of logistical hurdles.

Most guided adventures begin in Chamonix with a classic ski of the Valle Blanche. The Aiguilles du Midi Tram can take you from town to over 12,600 feet in 20 minutes! If the stunning views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks are not enough to blow you away, the heavily glaciated ski run back down to Chamonix will. This day is often used to access skills, acclimatize, and prep guests for the next seven days of ski touring.

After another night in Chamonix, most parties begin the Haute route with another tram ride boost up to 10,700 feet at the Grand Montets ski area. Once folks ski out onto the Argentiere Glacier it is a succession of high mountain passes and huts all the way to Zermatt, over 100 miles away.

The Huts all have their own unique character and design. All await your arrival with treats like cold beer and Rosti. This is an excellent choice after day of ski touring. “Rosti” is a Swiss-German dish of potatoes, often served with cheese, onions, bacon/ham, and the occasional fried egg on top!

As you might expect, most days begin early with a basic breakfast and an amazing sunrise, with the goal of moving safely and efficiently thru the day’s objectives. Managing the peaks, passes, glaciers, avalanche hazard, and other dangers requires due diligence.

Some days might cover as much as 10-20 miles and 3000-4000 vertical feet of climbing, others much less. Along the way, you might summit a third or fourth-class peak like the Rosablanche, or rappel down from the Col du Chardonnet. Each has its own character. The high point of the tour is the summit of Pigne d’Arolla (12,455 feet) on the way to the Vignettes Hut.

After arriving at the hut there is typically plenty of time to hang out with new friends, enjoy a cold beverage, go for a little bonus ski tour, take a nap, or just relax on the sunny deck. The final day of the tour takes you (literally) into the town of Zermatt. Where you could easily hang out for days skiing and relaxing under the watchful eye of the Matterhorn. Don’t worry, your guide has arranged for your bags to be waiting for you.

Sound good? Here are some tips for your Haute Route adventure:

Bring the right gear. This alone can make or break your trip. You will enjoy the trip significantly more if you ditch many of those little extras. Think fast and light! Don’t worry: the huts will provide pillows, blankets, hut shoes, and all the food & drink you need. Keep in mind; it’s perfectly acceptable to hang out in smelly ski clothes. That’s what the guys at the table next to you are doing.

Consider skis 85-95 mm under foot and not too long. To quote a long time ski mountaineering friend, “Of course you can turn a longer/fatter ski, the question is whether you need to?” For this year’s trip, I brought a pair of K2 Sideshow Skis that were 92 mm under foot, and only 181 cm – a small ski for me. I also used Dynafit bindings and Dynafit ski crampons, which are very light and very durable. Along with C.A.M.P. light aluminum crampons and ice axe.

Practice your ski touring skills. Good skinning technique is learned with a lot mileage… Especially those kick turns!

Be prepared for all conditions. You will inevitability encounter variable snow and weather. Some days will be epic corn and powder, some will not. Be ready for: cold, wind, sun, firm snow, wet snow, whiteout travel, and all sorts of crusts in between. This year I partnered with Dave Miller (Good friend and fully certified IFMGA guide) and we had to divert into a local town so as to avoid a really nasty storm! Having a well-prepared tour plan and the appropriate gear made it a minor inconvenience, instead of an epic.

Check out this year’s slideshow! 2012 Haute Route Photo Album and Slideshow

March 25 – April 1 2013
Cost: $2475 – remember to say you read about this trip on Snowpals

Contact Rich for details: 

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About Rich Meyer

Rich Meyer Bio PictureAfter graduating from college in 1994 Rich made the move to Tahoe City California, in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was there that he began to immerse himself in backcountry adventure. Skiing, hiking, biking or climbing was the daily focus. As things progressed Rich was drawn into guiding and began to immerse himself with courses and organizations like the AMGA, NOLS, WMI, AIARE, PSIA, and others. One of Rich’s first guiding opportunities was leading a 39 day trip to Alaska for a dozen 16 year old kids, that included sea kayaking, backpacking, ice climbing, and rafting. He was hooked. Guiding has taken Rich to places like: Mt. Shasta, Mt. Rainier, Denali, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, France, Switzerland, and throughout the western United States.

Guiding on skis or on foot, Rich strives to make every day educational. Teaching is a large component of every trip. Rich teaches avalanche courses, glacier seminars, backcountry ski skills, climbing courses, and trains aspiring new guides. From the Haute Route in Europe to the Andes of South America, Rich has made an effort to enhance his clients experience with effective communication. Giving folks the information and skills not only to follow, but to become confident backcountry skiers and climbers. After extensive travel and training over the years, Rich has been able to educate hundreds of guests as to the importance of taking care of our natural world. Along with safety (and fun), traveling with respect for the mountains is always a priority. Join Rich on an incredible mountain adventure!

 

The Last Chair Music Festival at Squaw

8 January 2013

By Desiree Holroyde, Snowpals Newsletter Contributor

squaw-last-Chair-Music-Festival

 

The Last Chair Music Festival

Olympic Village Lodge @ Squaw Valley, CA 

Friday January 11, 2013

Foster The People DJ Set

Eliot Lipp
 
Saturday January 12, 2013

Bonobo DJ Set

Emancipator

Random Rab    

Squaw ski lift buried by Keoki Flagg

Photo by Keoki Flagg

This coming weekend Friday Jan 11 and Saturday Jan 12 is the second installment of The Last Chair Music Festival which is being hosted at the Olympic Village Lodge by Squaw Valley. A lift ticket purchased online through http://www.squaw.com/last-chair-music-fest includes one day of skiing or riding on Friday or Saturday, as well as access to one concert in the evening. Season pass holders are offered a discounted ticket to The Last Chair Music Festival for $30, which may be purchased online or at the event. Regular event tickets are $35 and available online or at the door. Tickets are also available daily at the Guest Services and Sales Center, in addition to the Squaw Valley Conference Center until 4pm, or until sold out.

Friday night’s event includes Foster the People, a fresh new band from Los Angeles performing a dj set. Supporting act Eliot Lipp, whom you may know for having performed with Sound Tribe Sector Nine, has received recognition from both Prefuse 73 and Jay-Z. Eliot Lipp signed to Pretty Lights Music just last year.

Saturday features Bonobo, one of the many fantastic artists belonging to the infamous Ninja Tune label, who surely will deliver a great set. Emancipator hails from Portland, OR with dreamy, danceable beats and “The Master of Emotion” aka Random Rab is based out of San Francisco. Arrive early to catch all three of these delicious acts on Saturday January 12.

Check out the Last Chair Music Festival 2013 Lineup:

Friday January 11, 2013

Foster The People

http://www.fosterthepeople.com/us/music/torches

https://soundcloud.com/fosterthepeoplemusic

Eliot Lipp

http://eliotlipp.com/music

https://soundcloud.com/eliotlipp


Saturday January 12, 2013

Bonobo

http://bonobomusic.com

https://soundcloud.com/bonobo

Emancipator

http://emancipator.bandcamp.com/

https://soundcloud.com/emancipator

Random Rab

http://randomrab.com/sounds/

https://soundcloud.com/random-rab

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squaw-the-last-chair

 

Tahoe Resorts Powder Alert, Snow Totals & Videos

photo source: http://www.squaw.com/the-mountain/photos-and-videos photo source: by Grant Barta of Sugar Bowl

2012-13 Winter Season Tahoe Ski Resorts Opening Dates & Videos Straight from Resorts

December 25, 2012: Happy Holidays SnowPals!

Tahoe POWder Alert Updated on Dec 25 2012, 12:45 pm PST. Light Snow and 32 F at Truckee, CA. Winds are South at 9.2 MPH. The humidity is 75%. The wind chill is 24 F.  – “A very Merry White Christmas Day with another two feet of snow expected by this evening.” – weather-geek

Tahoe Resorts Snow Totals as of Dec 25

tahoe-resorts-snow-totals

 

Source: tahoetopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got lift tickets? Eight Sundays, eight Squaw/Alpine lift tickets giveaway; starts Nov 11, ends Dec 30, get dialed in.

 

tahoe-city-weather-forecast 

 

 

 

Heavenly is opened Trail Map | Live Resort Cams

Click on ‘Play’ to watch 

Sierra at Tahoe is opened  Trail Map | Cam

 

Kirkwood is opened Trail Map | Cam

 

Squaw Valley USA is opened. Night skiing and snowboarding daily until 9pm. Trail Map | Cam

 

Alpine Meadows is opened Trail Map | Cam

 

Northstar-at-Tahoe is opened  Trail Map | Cam

 

Sugar Bowl is opened  Trail Map | Cam 

 

Boreal is opened; Boreal is typically the first resort to open(opening date was Oct 31, 2012) Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm; night skiing from 3:30pm to 9pm. Trail Map | Cam

 

Homewood is opened  Trail Map | Cam

 

Diamond Peak is opened Trail Map | Cam

Mt. Rose is opened Trail Map | Cam

Tahoe Donner  is opened Trail Map

Donner Ski Ranch  is opened Trail Map

Bear Valley  is opened Trail Map | Cam

 

China Peak  is opened Trail Map

Dodge Ridge  is opened Trail Map | Cam

Soda Springs  is opened Trail Map

Yosemite’s Badger Pass® Ski Area  is opened Trail Map | Cam

Mt. Shasta Ski Resort  is opened Trail Map | Extended night skiing/riding hours 3:30 PM to 9:00 PM.

 

Granlibakken Resort  is opened Trail Map | Cam

Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort  is opened Trail Map

Spooner Lake Cross Country Ski Area  is opened Trail Map

Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area  is opened Trail Map

Southern California/Sierra

Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is OPENED Trail Map | Cam

 

*All opening dates posted above are based on snowfall and could change. Check with the resort before you go for the most updated information.

Map of Lake Tahoe Area Ski Resorts
 
 

 

 
For a detailed listing of Tahoe ski resorts, check out our handy guide to all the Lake Tahoe area ski resorts! It’s the fastest way to scan lift ticket prices and compare the resorts to find the perfect one for you.

 

Question: Will the 2012-13 season be an El Niño or La Nina winter season?

Answer: The probability of an El Niño event is high according to “computer models developed by long-range weather forecasters project a wet winter across most of Northern California with above-average snowfall for Tahoe, the high Sierra and the Rocky Mountains.” – Tom Stienstra of Slope Dope. In addition, the World Meteorological Organization supports this finding with their detailed analysis.

 

You’re invited, join Bay Area skiers and boarders for our annual snow season kickoff parties to connect with skiers and snowboarders near you for ridesharing to your favorite  Tahoe resort. Looking to join a Tahoe ski lease? Browse our listing, or list yours.

 

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SPOTLIGHT: Help skiDUCK.org give disadvantaged kids an opportunity to learn how to ski and snowboard.

 

*If you spot any error on this page or would like to make a suggestion, please email .  Advance thanks!