Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Time to Hike: Gear for Chamonix to Zermatt on Walker's Haute Route

We are off in a week or so for our annual "big" hike. This year we are tackling the Walker's Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. Longer, higher,and tougher than the Tour du Mont Blanc which we did last year.  On the menu: 180 km (112 miles) and 12,000 meters (39,000 feet) of climbing. Of course incredible scenery. As with the Tour du Mont Blanc we will stay in a combination of mountain huts and inns in villages along the way. The first day will be in France and the rest of the way we will be in Switzerland.

As the route is rougher and higher than the Tour du Mont Blanc I am going to leave my trusty Hoka One One Mafates behind for a bit more rugged shoe, the Salomon XA Pro Mid GTX. GoreTex and about 15 oz per shoe, so not much heavier than a trail runner. A tune up hike in the XA Pro on Mount Moosilauke in NH this spring had me smiling. They were great on mud, snow and rock.
Salomon XA Pro Mid GTX

Trekking poles are key. Most all trekkers and European trail runners use them. I have retired my Leki Makalu and upgraded to the Black Diamond Distance fl Trekking Z Poles. The poles are super sturdy due to the cone shaped plastic inserts between sections and easily fold down in three parts to about 13".

Folding to such a small package is very handy for running or when traveling. They are very easy to fold by pushing a single spring loaded button.  They are close cousins of Black Diamond's easy to deploy avalanche probes. The "fl" stands for Flick Lock. The poles extend from 100-125cm. 125 cm is just about the right height for me when walking on moderate terrain as I am 5'10'' tall. Shorten for steep slopes. Two types of tips are provided: a hard plastic for most uses and a carbide screw in tip for icier terrain. Pop off the plastic tip and screw on the carbide. Unfortunately, the small basket cannot be replaced with a ski type basket. Black Diamond told me Z ski poles are coming this winter.

How To Video: Black Diamond Z-Poles from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.


Paul, Ireland said...

Hey Sam
I'm doing The Haute Route (Climbers Route Across the Mountains)as well, maybe our paths will cross again this year!!
I'm hoping start on the 5th July. I'll be keeping an eye out for you!!
I did The Haute Route in 2008 and its an awesome trip!! Nothing beats the views of Matterhorn.
All the best

Jukka Kukkonen said...

Wow Mt Blanc to Matternhorn! I'll run Trail Verbier on July 2, maybe see you around Champex. Did Zermatt Marathon a couple of years ago, it's beautiful. It's on July 9 this year, you might be able to run it!