Haute Route - tphphoto

A few years ago I received a call from  Charlie van Der Cook an old friend and former boss.  Charlie was working on his "bucket" list and was hoping to tackle a winter tour of the famed Haute Route.  He said I was the only person he could think of that might actually go do it with him and asked if I wanted to go.  I said of course.  The classic Haute Route is a 180 km tour between Chamonix, France and Zermatt, Switzerland.  Travelers stay each night in independently run hostels that are along the route and unconnected with the outside world unless you are willing to walk or ski to them.  We awoke in Chamonix the day before our trip began to over three feet of fresh snow.  This snow detoured us to the St. Bernard Monastery where we waited out the high avalalanche conditions by doing day trips from the monastery.  Inaccessible by motorized vehicle in the winter the monastery is positioned at the highest pass between the Swiss Alps and the Italian Alps.  The monastery was established in 1049 by an Augustinian monk as a monastery and hospice that aided travelers in need.   This little delay was one of the highlights of the trip. This visual story follows our Haute Route adventure with our guide, Michael Stilitch, and three young Canadians that were part of our group.  We enjoyed waist deep snow, suffered whiteouts and cold, enjoyed amazing food, shared a bed every night with three other travelers (on the Haute Route everyone shares beds for four), avoided crevasses, traveled across glaciers and basically had a trip of a lifetime. Hopefully these images convey the beauty of traveling by ski at high altitude in the Alps.

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