Last night we enjoyed an excellent meal, but those enjoying a 'wee dram' paid SF9 - about £8 for the privilege. That's nothing compared with our home tonight, where there is no running water and mineral water costs SF10 for 1.5 litres. A small beer costs SF 5, so this evening will not be the most alcoholic (or anything much else for that matter) of our lives!
Today was perfect weather for the short walk to Bertol, quite a high Alpine mountain hut. A bit like walking up Ben Nevis from Glen Nevis in distance and ascent, so not a big day. However, as you slowly rise from Arolla and round the corner of the dog-leg route up to the hut, the splendour of the multitude of Alpine summits in view increases with nearly every step. The final section is a climb up ladders over a buttress (going round the buttress would expose you to dangerous rockfall), then across a snowfield, where Dave is pictured above - leading us towards the near vertical ladders that run up to Cabane de Bertol.
Dave had told us that the outside toilets, which are accessed via a walkway of steel mesh suspended above a huge void, had a reputation for being the worst loos in the Alps. I'm sure I've heard such stories from John Howarth on his winter Haute Route trips with Mark Seaton, but luckily for us they appear to have been refurbished since Dave (and John) was last here.
The Cabane is heaving with people - the downside of being on a popular Alpine route in mid August, but everyone seems relaxed apart from the guide who wants all 28 of his party to be fed in the first sitting. He won - we are in the second sitting anyway, so don't really care. We'll have to go to our dormitory whilst 'first sitting' takes place. The hut is full. Our sleeping quarters are in a half spherical basement, so the individual places on a huge mattress taper towards the feet, for which there isn't much room. I'm on 'window duty' again.
Shirley, thanks for your comments. We encountered a 'piglet' today on the path up from Arolla - she seemed very perky and probably got up to around 3000 metres. She was admired by 'The Boys' who entertained themselves on today's long ascent with a series of bad jokes, rugby songs, and risque comments on the Swiss totties passing in both directions.
Breakfast tomorrow is at 4.30, but there's no need to set an alarm as the dormitory will be a hive of congested activity in the dark.
Should be fun!
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