Alps log: day 7
Wake up 3am, eh. 5am, ugh. 7:05am by a knock on the door. The hut guardian barks: “eat breakfast now, the kitchens closes.”. Whoops. Throw it down. Everyone has left. I’m out by 8:10am.
Stage 7 alt: Cabane de prafleuri – lac de dix – cabane de dix- col de paiz – Arolla
Height gain: 837m
Time: 6.5 hrs
Key assuring gudebook quote: “…by now you should be well into your stride…”
Much of the morning is a leisurely stroll alongside the dammed Lac Des Dix. I put the finishing touches on my opinion of Europe and its denizens in relation to the States: (1) If people in Pennsylvania only spoke french, yeah, I would probably speak five languages too; (2) Europeans don’t know shit about Americans.
Pass a herd of cows. They were musically inclined. Though, could have used more cowbell? Pass Paul and Kate at Paz de Chut. They’re taking the more direct way up the Col de Riedmatten. I’m taking detour. A climb up atop a morraine wall. Pass Mike, a retiree from Tasmania. At the top of the saddle, there is a view of a giant pyramid of rock, using a glacier as a necktie. I love with this one. Specks crawl in from the right– climbers– yeah, this thing must be a climbers dream.
I stop at Cabane Des Dix for lunch.1 Can’t read the menu, but one item has a picture of a plate-sized hash brown, laced with pork, a slab of greyere, and crowned with a fried egg. Yes Yes, thank you, please, goodnight. I would later learn this is somewhat of a national Swiss dish (at least on the German third of the country.).
Confession: I haven’t tried fondue yet because that is a cheese party not for a party of one.
I cross the Glacier de Cheilon. It’s apparently stable, no crevasses, no crampons. I pause in the middle. The glacier is a dimpled white tongue, unspooling from the beast of a mountain, down to my boots. I could be slurped up in a blink. The loose boulder fields to get here are a pain, but this is worth it, right here.
Scramble up to the pass. Decision time. The notched window at Col de Riedmatten OR the near-vertical ladders at Col de Chèvres. I know what Big Pack Crab would have settled for, and that’s me no longer. I prepare for the ladders: I secure every item, cinch every strap, say a prayer, and record a video goodbye to everyone just in case (since destroyed, don’t worry I didn’t mention you). Let’s go, three points of contact, up all 30m, like a robot, not even thinking about the sheer drop, 1, 2, 3 points of contract, oh man oh man, why is the ladder shaking, okay, that’s just me, why am I shaking, fuck fuck, now I have to move laterally to a rock and a third ladder, almost there, steady, steady, no point dying now, cmon, YES. Let me never do that again.
Skip skip down to Arolla, with valley views and clear trails. The Mont Collon introduces itself, nice to meet you. Get into town in time to get cured meat and cheese from the market. Room at the Hotel du Glacier. Inside is a wood laden labyrynth of hallways and passageways. I get lost twice inside. Barely working wireless here, fire off one email to family and a blog post before it quits on me.
It was another 9.5 hr day. I’m a slow poke. Goodnight.
- There’s more of this “non-potable water” nonsense, but I drink it anyway. [↩]