Bad weather survived:
Just back from a week’s touring based in Arolla. We had snow literally every day. There were only two half days of good visibility and one magic clear evening giving great views from the hut. We saw many parties in the valley who had abandoned the Haute Route. The Dix and Vignettes huts were abnormally quiet.
We had two great days in the Aiguille Rouge area north of Arolla where our strategy was to skin up and then ski down when visibility improved ever so slightly. Interesting spring like snow on one descent and powder on the other. No one else was there.
Accurate weather forecasts enabled us to benefit from the one window of clear sky. We skinned to the Pas de Chevre and descended the ladders in the clag and crossed to the Dix hut as the cloud lifted giving fantastic views of the whitest Mt Blanc de
Cheilon north face.
The next day, a cold bluebird morning enabled us and the numerous HR parties to get to the summit of the Pigne d’Arolla just as the cloud rolled back in. The descent from there to the Vignettes hut was interesting. Great sections of powder skiing interspersed with very careful navigation brought us to the crucial junction at 3190 m. and then to the hut. The planned rosti stop was abandoned and, now beneath the cloud, we skied the powdery Vignettes glacier to Arolla. The 1700+ metre descent ended on heavy new snow on the lower moraines and then the piste.
It was very impressive that as many HR parties made it as far as the Vignettes given the conditions. All credit to the skill and professionalism of the guides and every sympathy for those who had to abandon after so much hard work. Did anyone get to Zermatt from the Vignettes on the 22 or 23 April?
Many years ago, I had a very frustrating April week not getting above the Argentiere car park and have tried to have a plan B for every trip since. It means ambitions can be reduced but something interesting can be done if the weather does go sour.
From the train to Geneva airport yesterday you could see wonderful touring opportunities at lower altitudes than I’ve ever seen in late April. When the weather does settle, there will be lots to do for a while yet.