Anne van Kesteren

Matterhorn Tour

A few days before leaving on vacation to Switzerland we walked into a mountaineering store and found a book called Tour of the Matterhorn by Hilary Sharp. We skimmed through it and thought the seven stages it described could easily be done in the time allotted for our vacation. The evening before leaving we figured out it might be slightly tougher than anticipated, but still doable. Turns out — especially the first two days — walking in the mountains with an eighteen kilo or so backpack is quite exhausting. In fact, I can still feel my legs. Although somewhat shorter (estimated at about hundred forty-five kilometer rather than hundred seventy), the trail was quite a bit tougher than the Tour du Mont Blanc, which we walked a couple of years ago. Back then we did not carry a tent and cooking equipment either. Just like last time I kept some day-to-day logs.

[Haut Glacier d'Arolla]

Time (24h)LocationHeight (m)Remarks
Day 1 — traveling and Part 1 of Stage 1
4:30UtrechtTime to wake up! (We had roughly two hours of sleep. Bah.)
9:27Aéroport International de GenèveTrain.
13:30Zermatt1600My Swiss watch tells me we are fifteen minutes late!
13:45ZermattAcquired food and a map.
14:00ZermattHeading to the start of the trail with an out in the open elevator.
14:20ZermattStarted walking!
21:00Europahütte2200Finally arrived. We are both exhausted. A waterfall we went under just before arriving turned into a gigantic slide of mud just after we passed. Slept and ate in the hut because of the thunder and lightning outside. Overall a pretty exciting first day.
Day 2 — Part 2 of Stage 1 and a shortcut
6:45EuropahütteLeaving with a slight headache.
7:30Ate some breakfast.
9:15Second break. Sun is coming up. Still a headache.
10:45Third break.
13:45St. Niklaus1120Fuck. It is Sunday and almost everything is closed. We manage to get some sandwiches and decide to sleep somewhere along the start of Stage 2.
15:00Jungu1998We go up to Jungu with the Jungenbahn (CHF 10) as our legs no longer carry us and it was recommended by the book anyway. Quite nice.
17:00JunguAte some Rösti in a restaurant and read Pinball, 1973. Still a headache.
18:30JunguWalking up the trail of Stage 2 to find a place for our tent. We think this might be illegal.
Day 3 — Stage 2 and Stage 3 with a shortcut
5:40Waking up and packing up the tent.
6:20Started walking.
9:50Picked up a cat supposedly from the hotel we are going to. Carried the cat all the way down.
11:00Cat jumps away.
11:05Gruben1822Ordered a cola. Joël has an ice tea.
11:20GrubenThe cat — not from the hotel — catches a mouse and lets it go again. Several times in a row.
13:00GrubenHeading out again for Stage 3.
16:10Here there is a shortcut down to the valley for Saint-Luc. Not an official route. Not having much energy left after two passes we decide to take it.
16:30Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. (This route stinks.)
19:00Saint-Luc1655Just in time for the very last bus leaving Saint-Luc.
20:15Zinal1660After having to wait in some other village for half an hour, finally there. Remy joins us here!
20:30ZinalA friendly lady points us to a hostel. There is no camping (it used to be there but was closed down; people suspect the hotels) and we have to stay in town to get fresh supplies from the supermarket in the morning.
22:20ZinalFinally sleeping.
Day 4 — Stage 4
6:45Zinal1660Time to wake up and get breakfast.
7:30ZinalSupplies at the supermarket.
11:30Col de Sorebois2835Break.
13:00Lac de Moiry2127Another break. With a cola this time. Also fetching a nail clipper from inside the tent.
14:00Lac de MoiryTime to leave.
16:00Col de Torrent2919
17:00Beplan2536We decide to put up camp here next to a lake.
19:15BeplanEarly night.
Day 5 — time to rest (due to bad weather and general tiredness)
4:30Beplan2536Early morning.
5:10BeplanOn our way.
8:00Les Haudères1450We need to get some medical supplies so have to walk back (partially) to Evolène. Joël lost a contact lens we cannot get back. (Nearest place with a chance was Sion; too far.)
9:30Evolène1371Big brunch here.
11:15EvolèneTaking the bus to Arolla, from where the route continues.
11:45Arolla2006Bought gas, food, and safety pins to patch up the tent.
16:45ArollaCooked a nice hot meal.
17:50ArollaIn the tent reading while it rains outside.
Day 6 — Stage 5
4:30Arolla2006Up, refreshed.
~10:00On the Haut Glacier d'Arolla. This is very exciting. Also somewhat scary due to lack of crampons and sticks.
11:00Col Collon3087Hello Italy.
11:45Rifugio Collon-Nacamuli2818Got a pan of pasta with parmasan cheese to boot!
12:50Rifugio Collon-NacamuliLeaving the hut.
15:00Prarayer2005We put up the tent here. And we can take a shower! Yay.
Day 7 — Stage 6
4:30Prarayer2005Wake up and pack up. Also an apple.
5:30Rain. Bleh.
8:15Ascent from hell. This is some fucked up terrain.
8:45Colle di Valcournera3066Fuck. Descent from hell.
9:30Rifugio Perucca-Vuillermoz2910Starts raining cats and dogs outside. Win. Great tuna pasta and some cheese and sausages for on the road.
10:50Rifugio Perucca-VuillermozTime to go down.
15:00Breuil-Cervinia2006No camping in sight and not really able to walk much further either. Bah.
15:30Breuil-CerviniaSome food in the park. Fixing a cheap hotel. (Cheapest so far, admittedly.) Getting some supplies. Eating a pizza.
Day 8 — Stage 7
5:00Breuil-CerviniaAnd away!
9:15Theodulpass3301To get up here there was a lot of strong wind and snow. Tricky but fun. Patching up one of Joël’s shoes and re-attaching his glasses with tape. Not his lucky day. Also, hello Switzerland.
10:15TheodulpassHeading up the glacier. Whee! One of my legs slips through a crack and I hit the glacier with my knee. 1-0 for the glacier.
11:15Off the glacier. Ugly-ass looking building. We decide to move on. Slightly jealous of the people who were skiing down the glacier.
14:00Zermatt1600We made it. Drei bier, bitte!
14:39ZermattOff to Lausanne by train. It’s all over.

The overall story is much longer of course.

(On Flickr I posted a Matterhorn Tour set.)