The quietest day walking the Haute Route, other than a truely memorable start. I woke at dawn in the Cabane de Moiry to find that six inches of snow had fallen overnight. Given that the cabane is 2,825m above sea level this isn’t totally unexpected, but the only way out was down a steep 400m track that had nearly finished me off the previous evening.
Seemingly everyone else in the busy cabane was planning on staying there a long time, even a second night, rather than try to get down. I thought it through though and reasoned that fresh snow first thing would be easier to walk on than slush later in the day, or ice the following day. The skies had started to clear so the visibility was good, and there were no sheer drop offs to worry about, though plenty of steep slopes.
I geared up and just before leaving was joined by the couple I’d helped out the day before with directions. I would have walked anyway but it was good to have company in case anything had happened.
The first few minutes were the most anxious, testing the grip and situation. The Swiss are amazing at things like this though and had painted the track markers in seemingly the only spots that weren’t cover by snow.
It was also far easier than expected to see the line of the track, and it became a hugely enjoyable and scenic descent down the hillside.
Part way down an ominous black cloud started to come up the valley, reinforcing how glad I was to have set out early.
After just over an hour and a half we reached the Parking du Glacier, five minutes before the infrequent bus to Zinal arrived, perfect timing!
Having only used my feet for the previous seven days to travel ~130km it was a bit of a novelty to be on a bus. The section I skipped would have involved over 1,200m of descent and had few views so I was fine to miss it. Particularly as I still had 15km and 900m uphill remaining to walk that day.
It wasn’t a particularly memorable section of the Haute Route, with a steep ascent through woods before a more gradual climb along the hillside, wandering past a few buildings at Lirec, Barneuza Alpage, Alpe Nava and Bella Lé. It was mostly cloudy but thankfully dry as I was above the worst of the cloud.
Hotel Weisshorn was the most striking sight along the way, dating from 1882.
It was a rather dull walk from there, other than a couple of planets laid out I assume in proportion to their distance from each other.
I reached Cabane Bella Tola by mid afternoon, a novelty after the last two epic days arriving at the cabane just before dinner. It was a pleasantly unbusy and scenic spot to recover a little before another long day beckoned tomorrow.