September 27, 2017

The Haute Route Ski Tour – possibly the hardest thing I have ever done

There is a phrase in the UK, ‘being fit as a butcher’s dog’. I have no idea where it comes from but at the end of the seven days of doing the Haute Route I reckon I’m that dog!

Skiing and Ski touring

The Haute Route isn’t a run and I didn’t walk it (although you can in the summer) so why am I writing about it? Mainly because I did it, it is an enormous feat, in my opinion, and is amazing training for anything you are doing whether it be running or walking.

The Haute Route is a route that takes you from Chamonix, France, to Zermatt, Switzerland, via the mountains. It covers approximately 120km to 140km of alpine terrain and you scale mountains, glaciers and cols via a mixture of skinning (walking on skis with sticky stuff attached), mountaineering with crampons and skiing (although there is far less down than up).  Pictures do this more justice than I can possibly explain. I would describe this as an endurance week and not something to be taken lightly; the first two days consisted of 12 hours of sheer slog and they ‘eased’ to 6 to 8 hours later in the week. It’s painful, there was plenty of blood, sweat, tears, altitude sickness, blisters and coughing and spluttering but the elation when you finish is second to none.

There are no luxuries on this expedition; you stay in huts up the mountains with no running water and you sleep between 8 and 40 to a dorm; bring earplugs! The food is hearty and plentiful and you need it. This is one of the few times I have eaten exactly what I wanted and still needed more. [Read more...]