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