Cabane de Prafleuri, with the old hut on its right (Click on any image for a slideshow)
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.
Setting off towards Col des Roux
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.
Looking back down to Prafleuri
Lac des Dix
Col des Roux
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.
Common Monkshood by Refuge La Barma
Lots of deer here, and redstarts (not a lot of birds overall,
choughs seen yesterday).
By Lac des Dix
Brewing up below Le Pleurer
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).
Climbing above Lac des Dix
Suspension bridge at southern end of Lac des Dix
Colin, Gaynor, and the age of chivalry
Posing above Lac des Dix
Towards the Pas de Chevres ladders, seen in the centre of the picture below
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!).
On the top ladder
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 Mont
au Sources chain ladders in South
First view of the Matterhorn
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 Zermatt last year!). Scabious and Carline thistles were also prevalent today.
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 Matterhorn
was pointed out (they hadn't noticed it). Lunch finished at 14:30, then Sue and
Caroline rushed down towards Arolla, followed by me and Colin.
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).
Mt Collon from Arolla
Hotel du Glacier
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
What a cracking day. I yearn to go back, and am jealous of Keith, who despite having an 'underlying health condition' managed to do the Haute Route in the summer of 2020, when the rest of us were afraid to leave home, let alone the UK!