The Haute Route is an alpine walking trail that runs from Chamonix to Zermatt, covers 180km and climbs 10,000m. It is usually takes 12 days to cover the route but we were going to see how far we could get in 5 days. I managed to trick six crazy friends to tackle this challenge all who had a varying levels of experience; Steven had cycled through Africa, Ross had completed the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, Mountain Goat Maeve had just got back from running Scaffel Pike Marathon, Will is normally found smashing up the track with very fast 5000m races and Andrea and Tom AKA ‘The Heavies’ are Crossfit extraordinaires who were used to squatting mountains not climbing them. This was going to be a fun few days.
The adventure started off nice and early in Chamonix with cake for breakfast, as it was my birthday! Hip hip horray! I mean any adventure that starts off with cake for breakfast is going to be a good one! Well it was going great until we all started to pelt it down the mountain when I suddenly turned a corner to see Ross sprawled on the floor with blood everywhere! He had got a bit over excited running down the mountain, stacked it on a rock, ended up in some bushes and cut his leg open again (he had cut it open a couple of weeks ago falling down the stairs and ruining a very nice suit in the process!). It was a pretty nasty cut but Mountain Goat Maeve stepped up and helped Ross put his leg back together again with the stickiest tape known to man. With the blood having eased and Ross reassuring us that he could continue we headed down the mountain to Trient with the pink church guiding us to our next snack stop.
On the second day we started a mega climb up this mountain and Ross disappeared into the distance, this would be the last time that we would see him for a while… This climb was insane, we climbed over rocks, snow and boulders and I could tell that everyones patients was getting pretty thin. At the top of the climb we thought that was it we would have a nice run down the other side but oh no the mountains had different ideas for us and we entered ‘The Valley of Death’. We tried to move as quickly as we could over the slate but we struggled to go faster than 1mph. Everyone was starting to get tired and their limits were tested as everytime we reached the summit it turned out to be a false one. Tears were shed as we had to haul our asses up these hills. I was starting to get a bit worried as the light was fading and I knew that we were not going to make it to our Refuge. I asked Will, Maeve and Steven to go ahead and see if the next refuge would have some space for the night. Luckily Will had managed to sweet talk the Refuge to let us sleep in the Guides room for the night, thank god! Unfortunately dinner had long gone and the only food left was crisps and a snickers I tell you what food never tasted so good. Ross had still disappeared and with no phone signal we had no idea where he was. The refuge very kindly phoned all the other refuges around and at about 10pm they located Ross in a Refuge down the road, we could all now go to sleep knowing he was safe and not sleeping on a rock. We tried our hardest to sneak into the guides room without making a peep but I am pretty sure we woke them all up the second we stepped into the room, don’t worry they returned the favour at 5am! We eventually found Ross the following afternoon eating a punnet of nectarines in a town about 20km along the route!
One of the highlights of the Haute Route was staying at Cabane de Moiry. This refuge is perched on a cliff edge with huge glass windows that look over Glacier de Moiry. Making the trek to get up here is definitely worth it!
After 5 days we had done it! We walked, ran and hobbled 150km and climbed over 8500m carrying all our kit from from Chamonix to Zermatt and I am so proud of everyone, especially The Heavies! It was pretty incredible what we achieved and this route was tough, by far one of the hardest trails that I have ever done! Playing in the mountains is incredible and I urge you all to plan an adventure that takes you out of your comfort zone and that tests you physically and mentally! Trust me it will be worth it!