We woke up with the others in our room around around 5am for a much busier breakfast than the day before, there was the standard bread and jams/Nutella + cereals and some juice. After the previous day’s efforts we were a bit slower to get going this morning but we knew the day was no where near as long although the forecast was for the weather to deteriorate throughout the day from the clear start we had. We set off around 7 am around the back of the hut following a path down to the valley and picked up track along side the river heading up-stream. Once we got to a small hydro dam the track turned into a path marked by some blue paint and cairns. At some points this did disappear into the river and was diverted but generally very easy to follow.
After an hour and a half or so we arrived at the toe of the Otemma Glacier it was dry and had a very shallow incline so few crevasses here so we just put on crampons and headed off up the centre of the glacier. This steady walking was a huge change from the previous day which we were still a bit sore from, having other groups out as well made .
After a couple of hours strolling up the Glacier there was a bit more of a snow covering and some thinner fresher ice so we roped up and proceed on. Once at a large flat plateau we headed north east towards the ridge which leads up and over to the Vignettes Hut.
We knew we’d be coming back over the same ridge and onto the Otemma Glacier the next day so tried to get an idea of bearings for the next day at this point. It was getting into late morning by this point and the snow covering the glacier was getting very soft and becoming more hard work. Fortunately it was only a half hour or so before we got to the edge of the glacier, could un-rope remove crampons and start the scramble up the ridge. I found this quite hard work as the rock was very loose, there were quite a few cases of one step forwards slide half a step back but it didn’t take long to get to the top to where we could see the Vignettes Hut perched on supports on a rocky ridge not too far away. The weather was starting to come in again so we got a move on whilst we could still clearly see the route. The walk across the slopes of Pigne d’Arolla to the Col des Vignettes was quite obvious although walking to the hut you have no idea about the massive ice fall off to your right, although the snow was ok at this point and there was no need for crampons you do not want to slip! The track takes your to the col in the ridge where a water pipe comes down on a very long wire from above, here we crossed to the top of the Piece Glacier and walked across the top ridge to the Vignettes Hut.
As soon as we arrived the guardian was there to open the door and welcome us in, he seemed to do this for quite a few parties who were arriving around this time. The weather had continued to get worse so it was very pleasant to have a nice indoor area with large windows overlooking Arolla to sort out and hang up our kit before heading upstairs to check in.
It was around lunch time so after we’d dropped our bags in our room we headed back to the main room for some lunch. The were some people already diving into some Rosti so it seemed silly not to. We ordered a Rosti for 3 and it was amazing, it was huge and sorted us out. After eating all this we were in a bit of a food coma so settled down for an afternoon rest in the dorm.
This was probably my favourite hut of our trip, not only was the guardian very friendly and welcoming, the food was great but it also had indoor toilets on the same floor as most rooms! The dinner that evening was great and even included home made chocolate brownie for desert. How they manage such nice food for at least 50 people all at once at 3000m must be a technique that has been perfected. We paid up after buying some more water and some chocolate bars, to which the guardian says we’d be too heavy and end up falling into all the crevasses now. It came to ~CHF420 including the dinner beers which was payable on credit card with no extra fees. After that it was time another early night but before going to bed one of our group did manage to get some good mobile signal up the hill outside the back of the hut. He managed to upload a few Facebook pics to show off to friends back in London and also got a glimpse of the Bertol Hut we’d be heading to the next day.
The GPX of the route is here: GPX
Here is the elevation profile: