Vignettes Hut to Schönbiel Hut via Tête de Valpelline

The best day of the most famous ski tour in the world

Also in Valais, Switzerland

Ski Touring Difficult

Distance
21 km
Ascent
1.7 km
Descent
2.2 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
2.5 km
High Point
3.8 km
Gradient
31˚
Vignettes Hut to Schönbiel Hut via Tête de Valpelline Map

Famed the world over, the Haute Route, linking Chamonix and Zermatt, has this as its crowning day. But by travelling fast, you can take it one stage further and tag on the fantastic Tête de Valpelline. It is only an extra hour of ascent, and in return the sensational views from this extraordinary highpoint are really worth it. You can, if you prefer, continue the journey down to Zermatt, steeped in history, glamour and tradition. For many mountain lovers though, the opportunity to spend an extra night in a mountain hut is not to be missed. The Schönbiel Hut is in a very special location, directly opposite the N Face of the Matterhorn and the Dent d'Hérens. Stable conditions are needed for your journey, as the second of your three cols is very steep in ascent. In addition the descent of the Stöckli Glacier is highly crevassed and very complex, not to be done in poor visibility if at all possible.

Description

You will be lucky to have this to yourselves, many others completing the Haute Route, plus those who have come up from Arolla the evening before, direct to the Vignettes Hut. Reverse the final part of your route of yesterday, until the flat Col de Charmotane, then steadily up to the Col de l'Evêque. It is a steady descent the far side, with one steeper pitch under la Vierge, before skins on to gain the foot of Col Mt Brulé. This is a very steep but quite short climb, rarely possible on skins. The far side opens up a wonderful view of the upper Aosta valley and the Dent d'Hérens. A very short diagonal descent takes you to the final big climb up to the Col de Valpelline. This gains height very slowly and can feel tough in the sun, with the altitude. Hopefully you have saved enough for the extra 300m climb to the Tête de Valpelline, but you won’t feel short changed if you haven’t. The Stöckli Glacier usually has plenty of tracks down it, also being popular with heliskiers. The route marked we took, adds an optional S facing couloir, at about 3000m. Go below steep ground to about 2500m, before the final climb up to the hut. Quite a day!

Difficulty

Difficult

Serious gradient of 30-38 degrees where a real risk of slipping exists.

Medium Exposure (E2)

2 out of 4

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

April, May, June

Features

  • Alpine
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area