A Few Summer Days In Arolla

In the last week of August I was part of a small group of friends visiting Arolla, in the Valais region of Switzerland, with the aim of exploring some of the hills above the village. Arolla is a small, quiet village at the head of the western arm of the Val d’Herens. Whilst there are plenty of tourists it is much quieter and lower key than the Mattertal (Zermatt valley) to the east.

After a first day acclimatising to the surroundings we headed for the Cabane de Bertol with the aim of scaling the Tete Blanche, a 3707m snow peak lying in the high ground between Arolla and Zermatt. Click here to view the area with Swiss Topo online mapping.

The Cabane de Bertol is a high hut at 3311m and is situated in a spectacular location on the rock ridge between the Arolla valley and the Glacier du Mont Mine. The hut is accessed by a series of ladders up the surrounding rocks. The final ladders are fairly steep and exposed, but feel solid at least.

Photo of the final ladder to the Cabane de Bertol above Arolla, Valais, Switzerland
The final ladder to the stunningly located Cabane de Bertol
Photo of the Cabane de Bertol above the Col de Bertol
The Cabane de Bertol above the Col de Bertol

The hut is a superb viewpoint for the Dent Blanche (4357m) in particular, and as the evening drew on and the sun descended the lighting became more spectacular.

Photo of evening sunlight on the Dent Blanche, seen from the Cabane de Bertol. The Grand Cornier on the left.
Evening sunlight on the Dent Blanche, seen from the Cabane de Bertol. The Grand Cornier on the left.
Photo of An evening panorama from the Cabane de Bertol with the Matterhorn, Tete Blanche, Dent d'Herens, Dents de Bertol and Bouquetins visible
An evening panorama from the Cabane de Bertol. On the left the Matterhorn pokes above the plateau of the Tete Blanche. The Dent d’Herens is the central pyramidal peak with Dents de Bertol in the foreground and Bouquetins on the right

After an early start and a straight forward plod across the Glacier du Mont Mine, we reached the summit of the Tete Blanche. The Tete Blanche is a great view point for the west side of the Matterhorn which isn’t usually seen, and for the Dent d’Herens which is hidden behind the Matterhorn from Zermatt.

Photo of the Matterhorn from an usual angle with the Dent d'Herens on the right. Taken from the summit of the Tete Blanche the Zmutt ridge is on the left of the Matterhorn and the Cresta del Leone (or Italian ridge) on the right
The Matterhorn from an usual angle with the impressive Dent d’Herens on the right. Taken from the summit of the Tete Blanche the Zmutt ridge is prominent on the left of the Matterhorn and the Cresta del Leone (or Italian ridge) on the right

Following a great wee trip on the Tete Blanche and with good weather forecast to continue, we decided to head to the Cabane des Vignettes, to then ascend the Pigne d’Arolla the next day. The Pigne d’Arolla is an impressive looking peak at the head of the Arolla valley but is straight forward from east or west.

Photo of the Glacier de Piece on the northern approach to the Cabane des Vignettes from Arolla. The hut's heli pad is visible with a helicopter on it on the skyline right of centre
The Glacier de Piece on the northern approach to the Cabane des Vignettes from Arolla. The hut’s heli pad is visible with a helicopter on it on the skyline right of centre

The Cabanes des Vignettes is another spectacularly located hut, though without the exposed ladder access of the Bertol. The views and drop to the south east on reaching the hut are breath taking.

Photo of Mont Collon at the head of the Glacier d'Arolla from the Cabanes des Vignettes. L'Eveque is the pyramidal snow and rock peak to the right
Mont Collon at the head of the Glacier d’Arolla from the Cabanes des Vignettes. L’Eveque is the pyramidal snow and rock peak to the right

Another early start was greeted with stunning morning light as the sun rose over the giants of the Valais region in the east.

Photo of climbers on the slopes of the Pigne d'Arolla above the Col des Vignettes. Climbers in the foreground
Climbing the ice slopes of the Pigne d’Arolla above the Col des Vignettes
Photo of sunrise over the hills east of Arolla. The Dent Blanche centre left in the distance
Sunrise over the hills east of Arolla. The Dent Blanche centre left in the distance

The panorama below was taken from the summit of the Pigne d’Arolla. In the foreground is the ridge of the Aiguille de la Tsa above Arolla with the slender spike of the Dent de Tsalion visible. Distant centre left is the Weisshorn. The Grand Cornier is the next and closer peak to the right joined to the dominant Dent Blanche. The Zinalrothorn is the more distant peak between the Grand Cornier and Dent Blanche. To the right of the Dent Blanche and to the east of Zermatt are the flat topped Alphubel, Allalinhorn, Rimpfischorn and finally Strahlhorn.

Panoramic photo from the summit of the Pigne d'Arolla. Centre left is the Weisshorn, the Grand Cornier is the next closer peak to the right joined to the dominant Dent Blanche. The Zinalrothorn is the more distant peak between the two. To the right of the Dent Blanche and to the east of Zermatt are the flat topped Alphubel, Allalinhorn, Rimpfischorn and finally Strahlhorn.
A panoramic view from the summit of the Pigne d’Arolla with giants of the Valais region along the horizon.

A week is over all too soon and after a day bouldering in the valley we were returning to Scotland, but with plenty of ideas for future visits to the area!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: