Walking the HR: Some Route Notes

Walker’s HauteRoute 07 - Aguile du Midi from Chamonix  

Apart from what’s in the guide there are a couple of things that might be of use to anyone doing the same walk.

There’s very often water available as you walk. We generally trusted high level streams and drinking fountains splashing into troughs. But lower down, below Alpine meadows with sheep and cows, we avoided the streams but trusted the fountains.

The valley that the Prafleuri Hut stands in is something of a post industrial wasteland. When work was completed on the dam in the next valley some of the heavy machinery that was used in this one was simply buried in the rubble. Although the company responsible undertook a large clean up operation that completed in 2005 I came across several pools of rusty, oily and unpleasant water. I would not be drinking from anything in the Prafleuri area because of that. The price of the bottles sold in the hut (and the accommodation) is cheap considering the effort needed to get them up there.

Gruben to Gasenried (two stages in the guide) can be done in a day without too much pain but it does make it the largest day on the route of course. Coming from Chamonix we were well into our stride and found that with an early start (7:20 leaving the Hotel Schwarzhorn) saw us in St Niklaus at three for a beer. Leaving at four got us in to Gasenried for around six with enough time for a shower before dinner at the Hotel Alpenrösli.

However, I would agree with Kev when he says it’s not practical to add the St Niklaus to Gasenried section onto the start of the Europaweg. The slog up to Gasenried from St Niklaus is followed by an even bigger and equally steep slog up to the Europaweg. And the section from there to the Europa Hut is quite exposed and often rocky with some precipitous drops next to the path. Not something to be attempting when tired, or even perhaps in bad weather.

The Europa Hut does get very full so it’s worth booking. In fact we’d had dorms to ourselves for almost the entire trip until there. However there were people turning up without a booking who were given a mattress in the eating area to sleep on. Failing that, there are a couple of huts further towards Zermatt now (I imagine the new Cicerone guide that Kev was researching last year covers them). Also, there were so many people that it wasn’t possible to get a token for a shower since it would have taken all night to get everyone through. So if you want a shower, get in quick! But with an Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt keeping the pong at bay, why not just sit on the terrace with a local beer?

Everywhere we stayed was very accommodating when told that one member of the party was allergic to wheat, dairy and eggs and another allergic to potatoes. They often asked, in a rather hopeful manner, if someone was simply vegetarian but no one was. All the food was excellent and almost always in large quantities.


One Reply to “Walking the HR: Some Route Notes”

  1. The water in the area of the Prafleuri Hut looked particularly dubious so we had to buy some at the hut, but the next valley over closer to Zermat has a water trough less than 2 hours walk away so can get by without buying too much water, however cheap

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