All about the hut

“We are thinking about a two day tour..can you get out of whatever you do on tuesdays…would be good to have you there!”

Pretty simple message there, and given how free my Tuesdays really are it was game on for my first hut tour. The objectives were La Luette and La Cassort with a night in the Dix hut in between. Things didn’t work out that way, but really, who cares? I spent two days in the mountains with two good friends and we had the whole lot to ourselves! What more can you ask?

We had an early start on Monday after I confirmed I didn’t have to wake kids up and were on the road to Arolla for half six. We parked up and had skins on by half eight. After a lifty warned us that we should watch out for piste bashers we made a speedy ascent up under the drag lift to warm up in the cold morning. After a brief encounter with a snow machine we were thoroughly iced up and got even more of a wiggle on to try and get the ice melted off our clothes! Progress was quick until we entered into the Pas de Chevre, where the handy skinning track stopped. It was powder bashing from here on in. Our skins got a good taste for rock over the next hour and our thighs cursed the deep fluffy powder. Foot forward, sink, slide back, repeat. Heads down, swapping leads we tractored through to the top of the pass. A cheeky descent by ladder and it was simply a matter of avoiding a few crevasses as we crossed the glacier and took a rather steep line up to the hut (possibly my fault).

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One conflab later we decided to skip trying for La Luette that day as we probably wouldn’t make it down before dark. Cue some serious messing around in the sun with a couple of descents of a little hill and drinking of tea. Then began the night long task of melting snow for water. Kelly discovered the toilets and dug them out from a 4ft snow drift. We had all the mod cons! With the fire on the room warmed up, luckily we had it to ourselves, there was kit drying everywhere!

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Pre dinner entertainment was the “Peanut Game” a variation on the cereal box game, after some very impressive stretching, it was time for a metric ton of risotto. After significant amounts of peer pressure I chowed down more than my fair share of the stuff, at least it would give me something to burn over night!

The risotto game was replayed with an early breakfast, too early to stomach much! As soon as we could see where we were going we were out of the door and blasting across the glacier towards our summit. As the sun rose the beauty of the mountains struck home, we truly had the place to ourselves. It was some playground.

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We scratched our way over some compact icy  snow and beasted through plenty of minging windslab before the last wallow to the summit. A quick jolly along the ridge revealed the full 360degree panorama. We took in the view, took some photos and headed down back to our skis. Skins off and thighs ready we sketched, slid and sank our way back down some of the most horrible snow I’ve skied yet. A quick bite of lunch at the hut and we retraced our steps from the day before.

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Back up the ladders of death and into the first deep powder we’d experienced yet, it was just a shame it was covering a boulder field! Skis suitably lightened we had the resort of Arolla in our sights, only to find the piste bashers had been churning, and we had a few hundred metres of ice blocks to ski down, yuck! Heavy backpacks really weren’t helping things.

All in all we were glad to be back at the car and en route to Grand St Bernard services for a coffee and a muffin.

It wasn’t for the up, it certainly wasn’t for the down, but to have the hut and the mountains completely to ourselves? I’ve forgotten the horror of the skiing already.

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