Classic Haute Route Day 1 – Bourg St. Pierre to Valsorey Hut

Background

To start with a bit of a background, a group of us have been heading to the mountains for around 8 years now, whether or be for alpine trekking or via Ferrata. We started in the Pyrenees with Aneto and have done a trip most years including, Chamonix, Saas Fee, Jungfrau and the Dolomites. Around a year ago one of the group suggested the Classic Alpine Haute Route, this is a multi day hut to hut trip rather than the hut to summit trips we have mainly done up till now. I decided that this sounded like a good experience and challenge, 3 of us out of the group were able to make it.

The idea of this blog is to put together some more recent information on our trip for anyone else who might be considering doing it. I found it quite hard to find up-to-date information on the web, unlike most other trips we have done. We were armed with Peter Cliff’s ‘The Haute Route’ [Amazon] book but this was last revised in 2006 and a lot has changed since then, this was a useful guide although it did seem to dedicate a lot more time to the winter ski route. There was also a lot of info on the web about the winter route and the low level walking route; however we did find these to blogs by David Mercer and this fairly detailed alpine guide’s site by Cosley & Houston.

The Classic Haute Route traditionally goes from Chamonix to Champex then with a short bus/transfer through a lower valley to continue the route to Zermatt. Due to work holiday time constraints we decided it was best to miss out the Chamonix to Champex part and opted to start on day 3 in the guide book from Bourg St. Pierre and follow the route to Zermatt. The rest of this post and the following entries describe the route and how we went, including route profiles and a smoothed GPX of the route we took should it come in useful to anyone else.

Day  1

We arrived in Bourg St. Pierre on the Saturday afternoon, having flown from Heathrow and taken the train and bus into the village. It is a small place we a few hotel/hostels and bars, it feels quite run down although there was a long distance endurance race going through the town when we arrived so there were quite a few people around. I’d booked 3 beds in the dorm in the Petit Velan which suited us well and provided with a nice evening meal as well as breakfast for around CHF 200 for the 3 of us.

The next morning on the first day of walking we set off quite early as the weather forecast wasn’t great for later in the afternoon. We took the chance to have the last shower for a few days had some breakfast and set off to the Valsorey Hut. The walk up was fairly simple and easy just following a well signed path all the way with painted arrows on some rocks. The drizzle was on and off all the way up but fortunately not too bad. It did start to get a bit worse for the last scramble up to the hut and we dived inside arriving around 1pm in time for some pesto pasta for lunch.

Walk-up-to-Valsorey-Hut
Damp walk up to the Valsorey Hut

It turned out we were the only ones staying that night so we settled in…and started killing the large number of flies that were around. The hut guardian was talking to our next hut, Chanrion, and passed one some advice for the route up to Plateau du Couloir. In recent years as the ice has melted a lot and there are a lot of lose rocks around, it should still passable but would be quite technical. We were given plenty of pointers for the route up by making sure that we went straight up the ridge line then turn left and kept going up slightly until we got the ridge at the top of the Plateau du Couloir as well as leaving early to avoid lose rock falling.

We had our first hut dinner which was great and headed off for an early night ready for our first early start. The hut came in around CHF450 for the 3 of us including a few beers, water as well as lunch. On a side note probably best not to take water from streams below the hut as the toilet is just a longdrop onto the rocks below with a constant flow of water over it!

The GPX of the route is here: GPX

The elevation profile was:

Day 1 elevation profile

2 thoughts on “Classic Haute Route Day 1 – Bourg St. Pierre to Valsorey Hut”

  1. Hey, thanks for the great description of the route! As you say, it’s difficult to find some info about it online and specially some reports of people that have done it recently. I was wondering if I could send you an email with a couple of questions.
    Cheers

    1. I hope you found the information useful. If you or anyone else wants any other tips or guidance please add a comment.

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