Here are some of my photos from the Haute Route in Switzerland. Apologies for lots of gnome photos. It's
a long story.

Getting to Zermatt


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Due to planning 2 years ago, the crew of us decided to do the Haute Route in Switzerland this year rather than ski in the
powder of the BC interior. Here are my bags arriving in Geneva. Note that Randall was bubble wrapped inside my bag
but I wanted to show his packing job.


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Here he is looking out the window in the Swiss train leaving Geneva.


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Randall even had his own seat all the way to Zermatt, our starting point on this tour.


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Randall made a pit stop in Lausanne, Switzerland.


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Randall next to a train map around Lac Lemay (near Lausanne and Geneva).


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The cog railroad picked up a few thousand vertical feet heading up to Zermatt from Visp.


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A Swiss village with beautiful snow-capped mountains above.


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I thought this church tower looked neat from inside the train.


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I wasn't terribly upset by the bluebird sky on the way up to Zermatt.


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Looking up to the Swiss Alps from the train.

In Zermatt


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Since Easter was only a few weeks away, there were a lot of chocolate bunnies all over the place, like
this Lindt bunny on the Zermatt train station. Yes, seriously.


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Here's a postcard I didn't buy for my brother.


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No, not those kinds of hot dogs, but still funny.


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Walking around Zermatt, I found this light standard that I thought was pretty neat.


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Almost all of Zermatt is pedestrian traffic (or electric car) only. The exception is a horse-drawn carriage.


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Randall looking up to the Matterhorn from the town of Zermatt.


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Randall and the Town Hall in Zermatt, Switzerland.


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Part of the draw for me for this trip was to see the Matterhorn for the first time. Here was the first
view I had of the especially scenic mountain.


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Randall took a photo with these beavers at a fountain since he was feeling homesick for Canada.


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Since we arrived mid-afternoon and the other guys were already skiing, I decided to take my gnome up the
Gornergrat to 3000 metres and for a better view of the Matterhorn and the area.


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Randall had his first taste of Swiss chocolate on the train ride up.


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As well as skiing on the slopes, the Swiss also take toboggans. Look at the joy on this child's face
as he's waiting for the train with his mom.


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Randall and the Matterhorn from 3089m.

A video of the view around the top of the Gornergrat



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I had to also take a photo of me looking at the Matterhorn.


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Randall checked out the snow conditions as well.


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Of all things, there's actually a small chapel at the top of the Gornergrat. Randall decided to pray for
a safe trip.


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Randall and I went up to check out the solar neutron telescope at the top of this peak and to also get a better view
of some of the skiing in the area. It turns out that the Swiss stick lifts pretty much everywhere.


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Randall enjoyed the view looking down to the hotel and up to the Matterhorn.

View looking to the North from Gornergrat



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This proves we were both there at over 10,000 feet.


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Because the sun was out, I decided to walk down to the next station to catch the train back for dinner.
Check out the cog wheel tracks needed in order to bring the train up and down this slope.


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I thought the sun behind this cloud made for a neat shot.


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Randall, looking back towards Monte Rossa, which is higher than the Matterhorn, but not nearly as dramatic.


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Randall took a shot with the big Gornergrat toboggan looking back at the Matterhorn.


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The hotel Jim picked for us put chocolate ladybugs on the pillows.


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How can you complain when this is the omen off the peak when you start a 7 day tour? Bluebird days to come!

The Haute Route Day 1 - to the Schonbiel Hut


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The start of our tour, unlike previous ski trips, started with a lift, not a helicopter. This gondola
took us up the Schwarzsee and onto Monte Cervino (Matterhorn). Dicky and Alex look ready for this tour.


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At the top of the Schwarzsee, we got off the lift. You can see a couple of huts on the Matterhorn, with the one
in the foreground being an actual lift station.


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Chris Riedener with the Matterhorn.


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Me with the Matterhorn.


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It was pretty bright so I had to put my hat back on.


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Two of Jim's friends joined this tour - Yasmin and Erik from Switzerland. Yasmin is here at the top of the lift getting
ready to ski. Dave Lewinsohn looks on, while Mike's friend Kim is deciding on the right number of layers. With the sun
beating and no wind, this whole trip felt pretty warm.


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We jokingly referred to this as the 'old lodge', but it's likely just a storage cabin. A pretty nice view though.


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Kim is getting her layers sorted out.


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This little peak is the Breithorn and the guys skied it the day before in almost white-out conditions.
Dave is showing Bob his new Lumix with an altimeter, compass, and GPS. Not bad AND it takes 720p video!


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Here's Dicky Lum with a big smile before we start on our way to the first hut - the Schonbiel.


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As we descended from the Schwartzsee, we basically traversed along the side of the Matterhorn before dropping into
the valley and crossing to the hut. I thought the Matterhorn looked good.


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Yasmin and the Matterhorn.


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This is the broad valley we crossed prior to getting onto the lateral moraine on the right side of this photo.


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I like this photo of Jim.


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We took the 'ahem' summer trail up to the hut. Did I mention that this is likely the worst snow year the Alps have had
in 40 years? Yeah, we definitely saw that in this trip. Jim commented, "Well, at least you won't need a base grind when
you get home!"


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A look down the glacial moraine to Dave and Chris skinning up.


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This is the view looking where we're going. I thought the amount of hanging glaciers all over our ski tracks
were pretty dramatic. It's also why most people don't travel that much after around 2pm.


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I like this photo of Dave looking back towards Zermatt.


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A look back at Chris looking down the valley.


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Kim, looking back towards the Monte Rossa massif.


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How do you not have a huge smile out here?


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Here's our first hut - the Schonbiel. Did I mention that the snow level was low? We had our skis on our shoulders
for part of this approach and we skied over a little bit of grass for sure.


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As if this doesn't look awesome! That's actually not the Swiss flag flying - it's the flag of Wallin, the
canton we're in within Switzerland.


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We travelled for about two hours and were still well within view of the Matterhorn. Here's Chris Riedener
saying that he's struggling keeping his temperature in line.


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Dave Lewinsohn is showing off his Havocs after an easy first day approach to the hut.


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Dicky says, "I'm ready for more!"

Video looking around from the Schoenbiel



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Out front of the hut Dave is taking his skins off to dry in the sun.


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Here I am hanging out having a beer at the Schonbiel hut.


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Chilling on the patio and enjoying the view.


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I think this is a good photo of Dave at the Schnobiel hut.


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The group of us getting ready for dinner.


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Our group of skiers minus Dave - the cameraman.


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This is showing our planned approach for tomorrow. With the sun out though, it looks pretty doable. Click on the
Full Size photo link to see the route we did the next morning.


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The Matterhorn gets the Paul Perrault stamp of approval.


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Sun setting on the Monte Rossa massif. Yes, don't let the grass fool you, we were on a SKI trip, not a hiking trip!

Day 2 - Heading to Arolla


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Due to the large amounts of heat and the southern exposure of our route, we were up and at 'em before 5AM on this morning.
From the look on Bob's face, it looks like he slept well. Any day that starts with serious side slipping on ice in a 'no-fall zone'
is a morning that likely doesn't need coffee to get you started.


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Jim pulled out his ice axe to make us a little route across this rock pile. This morning was the first time I've skied with
a headlamp on as well as the first day I've used ski crampons. Both worked well.


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Bob is much happier here now that the sun is peeking out around the Alps.


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Dave is skinning up to our brief lunch spot. I must say that I find it more tiring to be on an icy side slope with no crampons
than I do hammering out many thousand vertical feet in powder. Maybe it's how hard I'm clutching my poles for dear life. Yes, that's
still the Matterhorn behind Dave.


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A close-up of Dave showing the glacier we skinned up earlier in the morning.


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I'm enjoying some marching tea. The huts have free 'marching tea' available in the mornings and March we do!


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A good photo of Jim and Mike.


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Thanks to Dave for this photo.


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Chris and Jim showing a little bit of the ice fall hazard we're skiing through. Just another reason
why it's safer to ski early when it's colder.


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I just think icefall is cool to look at.


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Chris, on an icy mogul field, as we're traversing across our morning skin session.


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Days like today with this much objective hazard make me happy to have our guide Jim with us.


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Our crew making the last push up a big slope. I think this is big terrain for sure.

Video of the up track



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I think this gives pretty good perspective of the area we are skiing in.
We started the day before in that green valley.


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Here's some glamour shots. Alex Birman with the Swiss Alps behind him. I think this is Dent Blanche
in the top left of the shot.


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A panoramic of Alex.


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A panoramic of Chris. I only realized a few days later that I had a smudge on my lens.


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Same shot with Dave.


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I think this shot is cool with the Matterhorn behind Dave.


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This was our last major climb of the morning. It's amazing how much distance you can cover when you're on your skis at 6AM.
I took this show mostly to show the huge snow bridges we used to get across the crevasses.


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Erik, Yasmin, Mike, Chris, and I took a little extra climb to the top of Tete Blanche to get a view to
Mont Blanc, our eventual destination.


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There's a small Celtic cross on the peak of Tete Blanche.


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A neat shot showing the cairn on the summit and looking out to Mont Blanc (the lighter peak in the notch).

Video of the peak of Tete Blanche



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Me, on the top of Tete Blanche, looking back at the Matterhorn. This was our last good look at this mountain
as after this peak, we dropped down into the next valley and didn't quite get the same look.


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Me, looking towards Mont Blanc.


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Mike Block at the top of Tete Blanche, looking back at the Matterhorn.


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Mike, with a view to Mont Blanc.


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Before you think that all we do is ski up, here's a couple photos of us skiing down. The corn snow was
okay (definitely not powder), but we were trying to cover distance to get us to Arolla yet on this day.


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This was our back-up hut (Bertol) in case the weather turned bad. However, with big blue skies, there was
no need to stay up here. If you look closely, you can see the crazy stairs involved to get up to the hut.


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The rest of the crew making it up to the pass at the Bertol hut.


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A good photo of the Bertol hut, showing how high it is off the deck.


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Here is Kim on part of the long descent down to Arolla.


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Dave, with some mean-looking ice fall along the descent to Arolla.


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Getting some spring corn snow turns heading out under that crazy-looking icefall.


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Mike says that this doesn't suck at all.


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Well, getting out to Arolla was only part of the day's efforts. We then had to determine exactly WHERE Arolla was
and then hike back up from the stream bed and then actually find our hotel. Mike's taking a breather to eat something
while our fearless leader tries to sort out where we're staying.


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Dave pulled out his Garmin Oregon and sure enough, he found our hotel lickety split!


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Here we are eating the rest of our dry sandwiches before heading up to the hotel.


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A great photo of Mike Block.


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We enjoyed a couple of these at the hotel de Glacier in Arollo.


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A nice photo of Kim.


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A good photo of Yasmin.


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Yasmin's partner Erik.


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Bob was also sitting around having a beer or 3.


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This is a great shot showing that the hotel is definitely a skiers' hotel.


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This was our ski storage garage. The huge cow bells are mostly decorative, but do still get used in
Switzerland.


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A photo at dinner on day 2.


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After about 6 L of water each (and a few beers), we felt properly rehydrated. Chris and I wandered around
a little to take some photos of the sun dropping behind the Alps.


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A nice photo of Kim, Mike, and Bob at our hotel in Arolla.

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