Haute Route 2008 - south route via the Grand Combin

In 2008, we skied the south route. Like most of my trips, what eats me is the anxiety. Having done the route once before, I felt comfortable. That turned out to be my undoing. The south route is very different and is more serious in my opinion. It is more glaciated and one needs to do more route finding.  I miscalculated a turn on the 3rd day and got help from local skiers.

In fog on the way down from Combin, I realized the meaning of “skirt the far right coming down from the pass” as there was huge drop of broken ice caps. Those who try this should have 50,000:1 of this area. I missed a map covering the south as I had two 25,000:1 maps.

The crux is Col du Sonadon. With a problematic part where two guys bailed and climbed Arolla en-route, at the pass, I lost my pole and ended up skiing the half of the route with one pole. We skied the route during full tourist season with many guided groups. There are usual herdings of inexperienced skiers and over-crowding and money issues.

During the winter peak season, you need to figure 80 euro per day. One of the crew decided not to carry money and leech. That was not pleasant either. So, make sure you have enough cash to cover. This turned out to be expensive and it felt more like moneyed class excursion except we did not have a guide. I will re-consider doing it again during the high season unless the party I am with is interested in Italian side; dramatic and less crowded.

Full links: http://www.egenius.com/Members/chalu/off_piste/Haute%20Route%202008/view?searchterm=haute

Posted by on Tuesday, 03 February, 2009 at 11:33 PM

good article relevant but a bit on the nose up in the air about inexpierenced skiers-so wat have to staret somewhere!- but still i think this is a relevant and decent article due to its detail-and ‘knob-oilly’ realism!

Posted by  on  Thursday, 05 February, 2009  at 09:48 PM

Sorry to step on some toes but you should have been there. Priceless listening to early retirees about peak house selling.

Posted by  on  Thursday, 05 February, 2009  at 10:00 PM

rasberry -as far as im concerned the housinmg market has got bugger all to do with it! beggars can,t be choosers the less inexpierenced skiers on the mountain the better!

Posted by jolly roger on  Monday, 09 February, 2009  at 02:15 AM

The trip sounds like a bit of a cluster. I’m surprised you didn’t drop that freeloader in Champex-Lac after the first night--you’re far more patient than I am.

Strange. The Col du Sonadon was pretty mellow, if a bit steep, every time I’ve been over it. The Plateau du Couloir is the crux of the Classic Haute Route [not sure what the “South Route” means]. The way around that cliff on the Glacier Durand seems to be changing the last couple years, but the cliff never moves!

The variation you did is definitely harder than the Verbier variation you probably did the first time, but not as hard as some others. Try a Swiss 3-Cols from Trient [or the Grand Lui, if you’re fast]. Then to the GSB Monastery & around Velan to Valsorey. Very pure--no roads--but hard & more technical. You can also go over the fun Les Portons instead of up the dreadful Otemma if the weather cooperates next time.

Go before Easter next time. You get to break your own trail & sleep in empty huts. And carry your own food if you think it’s too expensive. I’ve always found the huts to be a lot cheaper than staying in town. And having hot food prepared for me at night allows me to really go all out during the day--a good trade off, IMHO. It’s only money--I’ll get a night job when I get back home.

Posted by  on  Saturday, 14 February, 2009  at 01:32 AM

Yes, great comments.

I would have dropped the freeloader but she was a lot craftier drying up another boy’s fund and then some of others.

Col du Sonadon with little snow and icy condition turned quite troublesome.  We could not get much purchase with skins or I need new skins.

Terrains seem to change fair bit. Yes, Velan to Valsorey looks spectacular and Grand Lui as well.

Yes, go before the Easter. I like breaking trails and sleep in empty huts. That is how we did it first time via Verbier. I just found how crappy it gets otherwise. But then money is money.

Good comments. Thank you.

Posted by chalukim on  Saturday, 14 February, 2009  at 03:29 PM
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