Friday, March 07, 2008

Snowshoeing in the Val d'Anniviers: Day one

We left Basel at 7:00 and took the train to Bern, Visp (our first trip through the new Lötschberg tunnel), and finally Sierre. From Sierre we took the bus to Vissoie and then another bus up to St-Luc, where we started our walk. So that was tram, train, train, train, bus, bus... lots of transport! We started hiking from St. Luc (1650m) at 10:40.

We followed a pretty well signed snowshoeing path up the mountain towards Chandolin and had a nice walk through the woods (of course with a good uphill component). After a while the snow got regular enough to put on the snowshoes. We managed to miss a turnoff for the path we wanted (it wasn't signed, though the rest of the trail was very well signed), so we ended up on the ski slopes over Chandolin. After getting a better map (the snowshoeing map was woefully incomplete) from the attendant at a lift station we crossed the ridge back over into the correct bowl and headed down to the Cabane Bella Tola (around 24oom) where we had lunch.

After lunch we followed the Pas de Boeuf trail up around the rest of the bowl. This was a really nice stretch with good signage that led us up to around 2700m. Along the way we discovered the practical limits of what we can do on snowshoes: steep climbs are no problem (easier than walking them because of the ascenders), but steep climbs on soft snow are really tough.

The descent to the Chalet blanc du Tounot (around 22oom) was a delight. The views from the whole day were spectacular and for this part of the day we could really enjoy them. We had clear views of the Weisshorn, Zinalrothorn, Dent Blanche, and the "back" of the Matterhorn (today we had our first live views of the Matterhorn). One of the real joys of snowshoes is that "walk and gawk" is really easy: if you're on good snow you hardly need to look down at all.

We finished with a 100m climb to the Hotel Weisshorn, which we reached at around 6:00. This was easily the most strenuous hiking day that we've done since our Pyrenees trip. Total time was a bit over 7 hours, with a lunch break. We did more than 1000m of climbing and probably around 700m of descent. We were both quite tired at the end of the day, so it was nice to have a bit of a rest, a good meal, and then fall into bed.

View from the Cabane Bella Tola mit Weisshorn (4505m), Zinalrothorn (4221m), Matterhorn (4476m), Dent Blanche (4357m) hinter dem Hotel Weisshorn.

No comments: