Thursday, August 15, 2013

Overview: July-August 2013

The following 30 blog 'chapters' illustrate chronologically the following: 

I.  Champoly, Rhone-Alpes, France:  one post for brief visit to 'Champoly 2013'

II.  2 posts, getting ready for a hiking tour in the towns of  'Sion' and 'Graechen'

III.  Hiking Tour of the Matterhorn:  21 posts:  'Day 1 Augustbordpass' to 'People on the Europaweg Trail'

IV.  In and around Z├╝rich, Switzerland: 4 posts:  Sights, Meals, Ufenau, Schaffhausen

V.  Flight home:  one post

Note:  when you get through all 10 of the blog posts on this page, there are more photos from August.  Just click on "Older Posts" to see the next 'chapter' or click on the title of the blog chapter that you want to see.  Blog chapter titles are listed on the right side under the month and year.
The Tour of the Matterhorn is the densest portion with the most images.
This hike totaled 150 km over 11 days.
Daily average was about 14 kilometers per day, 900 meters ascent and 1,000 meters descent.  (There were two times when we took a cable car or bus to go up.)
Most of the hike was in Switzerland, 3 days in Italy.
Languages German, French, Italian.

  Day 1:  St. Niklaus - Augstbordpass - Gruben-Meiden
   elevation 1,120 m        2,900 m                1,820 meters 
   total          16 km           1,800 m up            1,100 meters down

  Day 2:  Gruben-Meiden - Meidpass - Zinal
                1,820                     2,800 m      1,675 meters
                 22 km                   1,000 m up  1,200 m down

  Day 3:  Zinal - Col de Sorrebois - Barrage de Moiry
                1,200  2,900 m                   2,300 m
                12 km  1,700 m up              600 m down

  Day 4:  Barrage de Moiry - Col de Torrent - Les Hauderes - (bus to Arolla)
                2,300 m                   2,900 m               1,450 m
                15 km                          600 m up          1,500 m down

  Day 5:  Arolla - Col Collon - Refugio Nacamuli
                2,000 m  3,100 m      2,830 m
               12 km     1,100 m up   300 m down

  Day 6:  Refugio Nacamuli - Prayerer - Col di Valcornera - Rifugio Perucca
                2,830 m                     2,010 m    3,100 m                    2,900 m
                10 km        1,100 m up      1,000 m down

  Day 7:  Refugio Perucca - (Perriere) - Breuil/Cervinia
                2,900 m                   1,900 m     
               9 km            no up               1,100 m down

  Day 8:  Breuil/Cervinia - funivia to Theodulpass - Glacier - Gandegghut
                2,100 m                                 3,317 m                           3,030
                3 km + 6 km stroll                 300 m up                    600 m down

  Day 9:  Gandegghut - Furgg - Hornlihut - Stafelalp - Zermatt
                3,030 m          2,400 m  3,260 m                       1,600 m
                17 km              850 m up                                     2,250 m down

  Day 10:  Zermatt - Ottovan/Taeschalp/Europaweghut
                  1,600 m     2,200 m
                  8 km          800 m up           200 m down

  Day 11:  Taeschalp - Randa - St. Niklaus
                  2,200 m        1,440 m   1,120 m
                  20 km            200 m up   1,400 m down

Favorite Pictures

Josette Valloton, mountain guide from Arolla Switzerland.

 Ghiselaine Bornatici, one of the owners of the Hotel Aiguille de la Tsa in Arolla, takes a break above to go hiking with the professor across the glacier.

Ursula, owner of the Walliserhof hotel in Taesch.

Glacial boulder above Gruben-Meiden in Turtmantal.  First day of the hike.

Champoly 2013

The Chateau d'Urfe is in the small town of Champoly, west of Lyon France.
A volunteer organization works to maintain and conserve the remains of this castle, which was inhabited from the 12th to the 18th century.  Link:
For a link to this area showing Champoly, click below:,3.834229&spn=3.340084,5.147095

Every summer a band of volunteers works on construction of the chateau through the organization Rempart.  Info on their website at
We volunteered and worked on the chateau 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The photos above and to the left show the team from 2013.

Gaby and Georgette have worked for many years to support the Association.


Going east up the Rhone Valley from the Lake of Geneva are the towns of Martigny, Sion, Sierre, Visp and Brig.  We chose Sion as a point to prepare for the hiking trail Tour of the Matterhorn, even though the tour departs from the valley south of Visp.  
Sion has a fascinating history, one of the most important sites of prehistoric settlement in Europe.  Information at:,_Switzerland    
It was settled by 6,000 BC in Neolithic times, became an important Roman settlement, and was Christianized in the fourth century.  Its strategic location has made it a site for conflict throughout Swiss history.  
It is now the capital of the canton of Valais/Wallis, whose flag can be seen behind the Swiss flag.  The flag of Valais is split down the middle, just like the actual canton:  the western half French-speaking and the eastern half German-speaking.

It is an easy bus ride from Sion up Val d'Herens to Les Hauderes and Arolla.  We went up to do reconnaissance on our coming hike Tour of the Matterhorn.  Below is Mont Collon near Arolla, and a yellow Pasque flower colonizing the floodplain of the river below it.

Click on this link for a Map of the area around Sion,7.877197&spn=1.665351,2.573547

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Graechen and Depart from the Mattertal

We chose to start the Tour of the Matterhorn not from Zermatt, but from St. Niklaus at the head of the Matterhorn Valley.  We stayed in the town of Graechen the night before the hike.

 From Graechen on the east side of the valley you can look across to where the Tour of Matterhorn hike goes on the west side of the valley.

Shots from the ascent below.

Day 1: Augstbordpass and Descent

The weather was cold and raining on the first day of the hike, on the climb up from St. Niklaus/1,400 meters to the Augstbordpass/2,900 meters.  Lots of snow, slopes and rocks; footing not great.  Cold.  
Better photos from long descent into Turtmantal, through alpine meadows filled with rocks.

Day 2: Gruben-Meiden up to Meidpass

Today we started at about 1,700 meters in Gruben-Meiden in Turtmantal and climbed to 2,800 meters at the Meidpass.  The first part of the hike was in larch forest, with wildflowers like the Early Purple Orchid, Orchis macula.  After alp meadow, seen under the Meidhorn peak in the third photo, vegetation ends and the last few hundred meter climb is in rock and snow fields with little vegetation.

Day 2: Meidpass at 2,800 meters and down to Zinal

From the col/pass below to the town of Zinal is a very long 15 km downhill stretch.

 The shape of seedheads from Yellow Alpine Pasqueflower above (Pulsatilla apiifolia) echo the shapes of the much larger boulders and talus below.

Day 3: Zinal over Col de Sorebois

A sunny morning in Zinal starts us climbing through forest.  Above treeline, the slope is covered with ski lifts and pistes.  The Col de Sorebois is 2,900 meters, with alpine cows grazing in the meadows above the Lake of Moiry.

The slopes are covered with ski lifts and snow blowers.
Below, just below the pass.

 At the col (or pass) below, 2,900 meters, the Lake de Moiry is visible: destination.

The cows above are a special breed from the Val d'Herens.

To the left, the Black Vanilla Orchid,
Nigritella nigra.

Day 4: Barrage de Moiry (2,200 meters) up

The Barrage de Moiry is one of a number of very large dam systems that Switzerland has built in upper alpine valleys, to produce electricity and reduce flooding.  This dam was built in 1958 after 4 years of construction by 1,200 workers.

The view above shows the path ascending the slope, after crossing the dam.

The alp plateau was formed by a glacial end moraine.  The lake is visible in the photos, along with the Moiry glacier, receding in the background.

Day 4: Col de Torrent (2,900 meters); View from the top and to 2,500 meters

View from the top of the pass looking west.

The view below looks southwest into the Val d'Herens. the destination of Les Hauderes, and the Val d'Arolla branching off to the right.

 Looking south, our first view of the Matterhorn and high passes into Italy. 

 On this 2,500 meter high plateau, hang gliders take off into the wind.

Mountain guide Clive asks Alan, "Didn't we meet on the GR 5 in France last year?"
Clive was right!

Clive Roberts of