Walking the HR: Essentials

Rifugio Bertone
The first posting on what I think we need for the Walker’s HR. The first few things aren’t shiny, exciting kit but they’re some of the most important since, being from a non Schengen state, we won’t even get there without the first one!
  • Passport – That isn’t about to run out…
  • European Health Insurance Card – That replaces the old UK E111 and also works in Switzerland for UK citizens.
  • Insurance – That will cover us in mountains. We’ll be up to nearly 3000 metres at times. I’m not sure where you stand with most ordinary travel insurance (many require a guide for “mountain treks”) but I know the BMC has policies that work.

    Edit: 04/07/2007 At the time we definitely needed “Alpine & Ski since it’s specifically mentioned the Haute Route in the BMC “Trek” blurb and said that only “Alpine & Ski” covered it (we called and checked). Of course we were doing an easier variation but I didn’t want to have to get into a discussion over the finer points of our specific route with an underwriter.

    Edit: 01/02/2009 The BMC Trek cover now specifically mentions the “Walkers’ Haute Route Chamonix -Zermatt”!

  • Cash! – Although some of the huts may be able to take cards with one of those old card squashing things we can’t guarantee it. We’ll need Euros for the first day in Chamonix but from then on; Swiss Francs. The cheapest option is to sort it out on-line in advance
  • Plane and train tickets or printed out flight details – Even though we’re on ticketless flights I stand no chance of remembering the details after two weeks walking!
A couple of related things that probably aren’t essential but are worth considering
  • Credit Card – Good to have as a backup.
  • Driving License – Might come in handy though I’m really not planning on driving! But who knows, for the sake of a couple of grams it’s probably worth it.
  • BMC CardBritish Mountaineering Council Membership Can get us a discount in many of the huts. In theory we should need to get a special Reciprocal Rights Card but in practice I’ve found the standard BMC membership card works fine. However, by not purchasing the card and still getting discount for more than about five nights (assuming ten Euros saving per night) you are depriving Alpine Clubs of funds… so unless you’re a poor student you might have to wrestle with your conscience! Edit 13/09/07 The route contains very few Alpine Club huts and so it’s definitely not worth buying a Reciprocal Rights Card!
Finally, something to keep it all in. I used to use an A5 Ortleib Document Case (32 grams without the cord) but this year I’m going to swap it for a 9X6 inch Aloksak (16 grams) since it’s half the weight and opens down the long side making it easier to find things. I’ve just got hold of some really, really large Aloksaks to trial as rucksack liners believe it or not (thanks Guy!) so there’s a review in the offing…

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