This was to be the last day of the route and would in the end
see us into our final destination Zermatt. The day started in chaos
as an over packed hut all tried to get ready at the same time.
Confident that we probably had most of our kit in our bags we set
off a little behind the main pack so we had a nice path to follow
in the snow. The visibility was limited and we were moving fully
roped up but at a faster pace than the groups ahead so began to
work our way past most of the early birds leading to a few
potentially rope tangling moments when trying to step past other
groups. Despite the weather we decided to take a small detour up to
a little peak which in theory would give great views of the route
ahead, including the Matterhorn which we would be passing by today.
We were in luck as the weather cleared for just a moment as we
reached the top. Heading down from the peak and onto the glacier
the weather cleared up completely to give us spectacular views of
the Matterhorn - a mountain we had started to talk about attempting
now that the Haute route seemed to be in the bag. It certainly
looked as imposing as we had hoped and we weer all excited to get a
glimpse of what may lay ahead.
With the weather improving we were walking down the glacier following a guided group through a crevasse field until this gave way to a rocky path on the side of the valley. This path was steep in places and given our Matterhorn ambitions we were a little worried to see Duncan take a slip and a slide. Further up we joined a queue of people abseiling off a fixed anchor. We sat around and waited but when we got to the front wished we hadn't bothered and just climbed down as it was easy. Our plan had been to stay in a hut half way down the valley but in an effort to save time we decided to push on through to Zermatt which turned out to be a bit of a slog but with the use of a cable car not too damaging to our knees. Duncan once again bagged quote of the day when we were giving Andy a hard time for walking hand in hand with Cliona - 'With a gait like that Andy, you must be packing a mean pistol'. Andy and Cliona found a hotel for the night while we checked into the YHA which other than being at the top of some steep steps was good and even had it's own out door table tennis set up. While checking in we overheard an American explaining to his friends on the end of the phone that two experienced climbers from his group had died on the Matterhorn the day before which was a sobering moment given our ambitions. We had a bite to eat in the hotel which wasn't quite the celebration meal we had promised ourselves on the way down but made up for this with a couple of sleepy beers afterwards.