Altitude gain: 2100m (!) / Altitude loss: 600m / Distance: 21km Time: 7.5hrs
The most challenging day in terms of ascent and descent today – quite a physically hard day.
Up early to ensure we climbed in the cool, an initial 3km along the valley was followed by a 1600m (4800ft) of steady ascent up the valley walls over about 7km.
Ascending quickly on well made track, we followed switchback after switchback, finally breaking the treeline at 2200m, we detoured from the published route to ease the ascent up to the col. We had a good turn of speed – about 4.5km/hr on the made track.- which felt very satisfying.
We were rewarded with stunning views towards Arolla as the glacier came to eye level.
From 2200m, the path to Col de Tsaté became steeper and rougher, moving from grassy basin to boulder fields, to scree traverse. The final push to the col was about 30 degrees, with constant switchback through the scree.
Reaching the col at 2868m, some snow was still present – though not as bad as the previous days.
Taking a quick 15 mins for lunch – very wild cheese, local tomatoes and bread to refuel.
We quickly descended down a steep path to the Lake above the Moiry barrage in 30 mins, before reaching the base of the glacier, a rapid 400m descent.
Pausing again to recover sugar levels, our feet were protesting and backs tired from the route, we eyed up the final section, a hard 2hrs to the Cabane – 500m of up across several technical sections.
Passing up a short ridge of morain, the route was really hard – not the terrain, but our energy levels were terrible; at each zigzag a quick pause was needed – no reserves left.
Some sections had both chained and roped sections across snow and rocks, requiring careful foot placement and slow progress – a 10kg pack is light, but it moves your balance, making it easy to over balance.
With the final boulder field crossed, red and white flashes conforming the last few hundred metres, we reached a stunning view – the new cabane, resplendent in it’s new copper structure overlooking the glacier below.
Had the most stunning view, dinner with the sun dimming towards the glacier. Day blurred thanks to altitude and a glass of wine.
Overall: very hard, enormous climb but worth it….