The Haute Route 2019 – Day 1

Day 1:  Trient (1279m) – Fenêtre d’Arpette (2665m) – Relais d’Arpette (1627m); 1400m ascent / 1000m descent

This stretch is the one we had to give up because of the thunder warning during our last Haute Route hike (see the 2015 entry). So I was very much looking forward to walking this new part.

The weather was perfect, completely different from the miserable, rainy one in 2015. I felt blessed and excited to start my second Haute Route tour. I put on my backpack and braved into the fresh morning air. No one was on the path, probably because all other hikers who stayed in the same hotel were heading in the opposite direction on the TMB (Tour du Mont Blanc) path.

The first part was along the delightful, historical irrigation channel called “Bisse”, which is particular to the region of Valais. I used to walk along these paths often when I lived in the French-speaking region, so I felt as if I met a good old friend.  (Read more on “Bisse” here.)

Then from the path in the shadow I came out to the sun and a fantastic view of the Trient Glacier. I walked along this glacier once in 2005 or so and I could see that since then the glacier has retreated on an alarming scale. Eyeing the beautifully shining glacier at right, I had to concentrate on the slope which was getting steeper and steeper.

By this time a lot of hikers were coming down from the opposite direction. They were all Tour-du-Mont-Blanc hikers. Some of the parts are narrow, steep, and scary. I tried not to look down to the valley which drops a steep 1000m below me.

From there I started walking up on scree. It was steep and loose on our foot. Getting close to the top, we had to use our hands to climb over fairly large rocks.

Finally, we reached the top at Fenêtre d’Arpette, 2665m!
On the narrow pass, several hikers were having a well-deserved break after a hard climb. I saw a solo female hiker who was walking in front of me and chatted with her. A former lawyer from Oregon, Lynn-Marie, was tackling the Haute Route alone but she was rather daunted by today’s demanding path on her first day. I myself was surprised how strenuous today’s path was so far. We both knew that it would continue to be hard on the other side as well.

Looking down, the downhill slope is also loose and intimidating : (  I had to go down extremely carefully and slowly, not to slide on loose stones and rock debris.

It was a great relief to finish the rocky path and reach the flat valley finally. From there I recognised the large rock we had stood on as well as the beautiful flower meadows, as I walked with Sano-san in 2015.

Lynn-Marie caught up with me and we had a small break together at the stream. It was nice to walk down together chatting about our walk and American politics.

I said good-bye to Lynn-Marie who booked a hotel further down in town and checked in Relais d’Arpette.  I was exhausted but happy to have this part behind me! I shared a spacious room with a young, friendly Canadian couple with enormous backpacks, who was walking on the TMB.

The Trient – Fenêtre d’Arpette route is spectacular but I concluded that it is one of the most challenging parts of the Haute Route. I was happy that tomorrow is rather easy.

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