A big day into the wilderness again, up a huge glacier.



day +








FATMAP difficulty grade



This is a great way to link into the classic Haute Route, from the S.

Start by linking snowy tracks or walk up the road to the hamlet of Glassier at 1549m.

You then broadly follow the line of the snowy footpath, heading up the steep wooded slope, near the streambed, S of point 2015m.

Emerge from there onto more gentle terrain, above the tree line.

Cross the hopefully-snow-covered Torrent des Eaux Blanches near point 2206m, then past the Lacs des Thoules, in a NE direction, heading for the Fenêtre de Durand, at 2797m, lying between Mont Avril and Mont Gelé.

It is not uncommon to see ibex here, with their impressive large horns.

A lovely mellow N facing descent the far side is over too quickly, by the time you arrive at the foot of the Otemma gorge.

Assuming it is open, you could split this day, by staying in the nearby recently renovated Chanrion Hut.

Doing so would allow you the possibility of traversing the Pigne d’Arolla, rather than the endless flog up the Otemma glacier.

Initially you wind through tight cliffs near some hydro workings, but it soon opens up to a wide and interminable expanse of whiteness- quick travel but it doesn’t feel it, as the surrounding scenery changes so slowly.

On a previous occasion, when I did Chamonix-Zermatt in a continuous 31 hour push, church to church, I was hallucinating skyscrapers on this section! Eventually you exit the glacier via a short steep slope on the L, traverse a short plateau, then through the Col des Vignettes, to the Vignettes Hut.

This is impressively situated and used to have even more impressive long-drop windy toilets, now fortunately inside the hut.