Monday 4 September - Cabane de Prafleuri to Arolla
By 6:45 we were all ready for breakfast on another lovely clear cloudless day. I packed outside as the dortoir was cramped, and by 7:40 we were ready to leave - only about 30 minutes after the OTH, who despite their alcoholic tendencies do seem to be able to get away early.
We zoomed up to the first col - Col des Roux (2804 metres) from our high cabane (2624 metres) by 8:00 for a ten minute break and lots of photos, before descending to Lac des Dix in warm weather, the sun having risen above the Aiguilles Rouges d'Arolla as we reached the col.
On the descent the field gentians were joined by monkshood, harebells, houseleeks and leopardsbane, with monkshood abundant in the marshy ground around the unmanned Refuge La Barma.
Lots of deer here, and redstarts (not a lot of birds overall, choughs seen yesterday).
We strolled down an easy path to the end of the reservoir for a welcome brew (10:00 to 10:35). And then on along a very scenic route, crossing steep gullies where the others would easily have lost the path. Our group was very slow and I could see ahead the choice between the steep scree up to Col de Riedmatten (2919 m) and the easy ladders up Pas de Chevres (2855 m).
So, as I wanted photos of the ladders, I chased after the OTH group (8 out of 10 had gone to the ladders) and reached the ladders just as they were "kitting up" with via ferrata gear that someone had brought. A long wait loomed large, but they let me go through, and I scooted up the ladders in front of them - so much for the photos, I'll have to go back, or track down those from 1984 (easier!).
I descended back briefly to allow a Frenchman to capture my
image on the top ladder. These ladders were really easy compared with most via
ferrata ladders, and much easier than the
I looked back to see the rest of my group at the decision point junction. They all chose the Col de Riedmatten scree slope. So I waited at the top of the ladders, but no one else appeared so I ambled down towards Col de Riedmatten and said goodbye to Dave Lonsdale, who had sped over that col in a bid to reach Arolla in time for a 15:35 bus home (he made it).
We were joined by lots of edelweiss in this area - most of
the others had no idea what it looked like (despite seeing lots around
I'd reached the top of the ladders at 13:15, from which a ten
minute walk with our only view of the Matterhorn this trip, brought me down and
part way up to the other col - which I could see, where I ensconced myself,
brewed up, and waited for the others. They duly arrived; the
We were down by 16:10, and were soon enjoying a beer in the sun at the first available hostelry, having overtaken the OTH Club, who had lost their hotel. The descent had been hot, and full of grasshoppers, which engaged with us for the rest of the trip. The hotel looked ok, but Sue and Caroline's search for rooms took us to a second floor balcony at Hotel du Glacier where Colin and I, Sue and David, Hilde and (reluctant, as she prefers dortoirs) Gaynor had twin rooms with shower and balcony, and Caroline had a single room. All for SF85, half board (£40).
This gave everyone accept me their best night's sleep. My bed was spongy, and I had sleep surplus. Friends, Lovers, Chocolate - Alexander McCall Smith, provided a good diversion though.
It was a nice meal - pate salad, duck in orange with peas and spaghetti, followed by summer fruit, cream and ice cream.
A nutcracker kept flying past en route from collecting food and delivering it to young in a nearby tree.
The OTH Club discovered that whilst they thought they had booked Hotel du Glacier's dortoir, they'd actually booked Edelweiss Hotel. Something about a 'confusing colon' in the guidebook.
I washed my North Face trousers and they were dry and crispy by morning.