Peck's personal Web site
High Route à pied
coveted High Route, Chamonix France to Zermatt Switzerland,
the serious skier's dream and goal for a lifetime. But you can also do it
on foot, the 'Haute Route à pied' -- but trying to do it in June 1997 was way
too early in the season. Undeterred, Prof. C. Berman and Former Librarian D. Peck
decided to have a semi-halfhearted go at it anyway.
above Verbier (1500m) on day one, enjoying a fine non-working day in rain at altitude,
Prof. Charles Berman smiles at the sight of the Mont
Fort hut destination looming in the distance.
D. C. Peck's smile is more of an anguished rain-soaked
The first day's goal,
the Alpine Club hut on Mont Fort (2457m) above Verbier
in the rain, where we ran into two American couples who'd been sitting in there
for the past two weeks reading Stephen King novels and trying to wait out the
Peck makes his dinner choices on the Mont Fort hut's (somewhat limited) meals
menu, found at the bottom of the cliff a kilometre away from the hut.
On foggy day two, Prof.
C. Berman decides to stop wandering all over these 40-degree hillsides and look
it up in his Kev Reynolds guidebook.
Mr Peck places his
faith in Prof. Berman's map-reading (never having learnt that lesson, despite
everything) and tags along with wavering confidence.
Mr Berman was right, the first high point opens out before us, but it looks pretty
far up there; and as in the United States, it looks like all the public transport
infrastructure has been ripped out -- we'll have to walk!
is a time and place for complaining about the decline of America, and this is
we have missed the turn-off?"
worry about it. Just follow me -- and bring the lunch bag."
thought you had the lunch bag!"
day's first high point in sight, the mighty Col de Louvie
(2921m), Professor Berman exudes confidence, but is embittered about the lunch
if you haven't got the lunch, where is it then?" (No comment, hee hee. Burp.)
very near the Col du Louvie, thinking about tomato and mozzarella with a little
olive oil on.
it's still Day 2, but one has reached the Col du Louvie and prepares to descend
now in serious avalanche country towards the Glacier du Grand Desert.
great! Scenic Col du Louvie, yoopee! "Where
now? Down, of course! What was so hard about remembering
to bring the lunch."
lovely snow. Though arguably too much of it.
Charles Berman amongst a great deal of white stuff that really wants to go downhill
the Glacier du Grand Desert stretches
out before one, and former Humanities Department Chairperson Berman cannot control
Former Assistant Archivist
D. C. Peck prepares to take the lead with a wary eye for crevasses, sinkholes,
and carelessly discarded hypodermic needles.
nasty crevasses surprise us, Sir Charles gives us plenty of room to experiment
around in before making a commitment (ca.2850m).
Step a little more carefully next time.
the glacier, and having provoked and then luckily walked out of a small avalanche
(in the background), Profs. Berman and Peck gaze longingly at the photographer,
a stunning mountain goat-ess from Gstaad who'd just happened along on her way
The two gracefully
aging gentlemen proceed in an orderly fashion off the glacier and pose for another
photograph -- but what sort of mountain goat-ess from Gstaad would be wandering
round up here in Snowy Lunar Land, photographing passersby?
from Gstaad, would (i.e., photograph passersby).
is the stunning mountain goat-ess from Gstaad who'd just happened along on her
way to Wherever, framed by two former professors from the American College of
Switzerland and a number of other institutions -- perhaps wondering why Sondra
didn't seem to need the ski poles, ice axes, crampons, and other assorted gear
that we ordinary humans feel constrained to bring along with us.
Of course, the stunning
mountain goat-ess from Gstaad (Sondra) was accompanied, unfortunately, by James,
an Australian tour guide who'd come up to the Col de Prafleuri (2965m) to discover
whether these passes were ready for his tour groups. Which they were not.
if all it takes is a stupid hat like that, I'll be willing to try it.
right, where next? Ah, Dixence next.
Now it's Day
3, and a former member of the Cement Hod-Carriers Union of Bergen County
(New Jersey, USA) can be seen clumping tediously up from the Cabane de Prafleuri
(2662m) to the Col des Roux at dawn, wishing that his country of residence, however
beautiful it may be, were flatter.
Lac des Dix (2403m, with the Grand Dixence dam hidden on the left), seen from
the Col at 2804m. We're bound for the horizon just right of center and eventually
to Arolla. Long day in prospect.
it's got to be done. Let's get started. Who's got the lunch?
Not again. No lunch and besides, my feet hurt."
Blisters. Sir Charles tries to soothe his inflamed piggies.
People's Blisters offer a welcome pause to catch one's breath.
Prof. Berman runs out of both lunch and trail and threatens to turn vindictive.
Thanks Bog that this bridgey thing is here.
the Col de Riedmatten, above Arolla. Dr Peck is viewed whilst watching a helicopter
come in to the Cabane de Dixence across the valley to pick up someone less fortunate
the Col de Riedmatten (2919m) and then down wonderful valleys in light snow on
shaky knees to Arolla (1998m)
evening's stop in a quaint Swiss village, Les Haudères (1450m): Prof. Berman
wonders querulously why we can't find such a simple thing as an ATM.
Here, in the village of Les Haudères, More
new partners, Suzanne and Katherina, point us in the right direction. Basically,
had never seen a genuine Edelweiss and appeared to
be thrilled to the very center of his being when our new guides showed him his
first (i.e., Edelweiss).
Edelweiss! Edelweiss!!! Smile, godamit!
women, and Prof Berman -- it could be the Col du Torrent (2918m), between Les
Haudères and Grimentz, in the Swiss Alps. Or, in fact, it could be anywhere.
for the Cabane de Moiry on the way to Zermatt, the stolid hikers took account
of the continuing bad weather, and succumbed to despair, and headed for Grimentz
the weary but strangely enriched hikers end their Alpine week in Grimentz
(1572m) in a downpour of unseasonal rain, and go home on the train. Grimentz is
arguably the most beautiful old village in the world, so if you can fit that into
your next DisneyWorld itinerary, DO IT!
that for 1997. You also have the opportunity to accompany the same Energetic
Travelers over the Swiss Alpine Route in summer 1999. Don't
even think about it until after you've had your medical check-up, but if you insist,
However, also in summer 1997, Dad and Marlowe went to visit Alison in New Mexico and learn about science and culture. Click here.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 25 November 1999, revised 17 April