Today includes your first glacier crossing of the Tour of The Matterhorn – ascend the valley from Arolla passing the base of the Bas Glacier to meet your guide at the base of the Haut d’Arolla glacier. There are no route notes for the glacier crossing as this is guided. Once your glacier crossing and time with the guide has come to an end, please refer to the route notes for Col Collon to Rifugio Prarayer, the next stage of today's walk.
Take a 30 minute postbus from Les Hauderes to the town of Arolla, ascend the valley from Arolla to reach the base of the Haut d’Arolla glacier (approximately 2hr 30 min) where you will meet your local guide to start the exciting glacier crossing. Relax knowing you have the support of a knowledgeable UIAGM guide. The guide will also provide any required equipment (such as crampons, harnesses and rope). From the base of the glacier ascend the glacier to reach the Col de Collon at 3087m. The col marks the end of the glacier and the border with Italy. Descend into the Val d’Aosta on rocky paths over the glacial moraine which soon give way to flower-filled meadows alive with the whistling of marmots, to finish at Rifugio Prarayer at 2005m.
Information on the guided glacier crossing:
Keep your camera handy for the glacier crossing to make it easier to take photos whilst you’re roped up to your companion(s) and guide. You may also wish to keep an snack bar close to hand for an easily accessible energy boost enroute to Col Collon.
Outwith the guided glacier crossing this route has its own challenges, a steep ascent with a marked path to reach the base of the glacier where you’ll meet with your guide who will look after your safety and comfort. Today’s walk reaches a high point of 3087 m (the Col Collon) and in the early season there may still be plenty of snow on the Italian side. If this is the case the guide will continue with you to Rifugio Nacamuli rather than leaving you at the col. After the guide leaves you, either at the col or at the rifugio, take care on the descent to Rifugio Prarayer – this is a steep remote pass with some metal step ladders and rope handrails.
This is a serious day in the mountains including altitudes above 3000 m so please bring appropriate clothing – even if it’s a sunny morning the weather can change to rain or thunderstorms in the afternoon. For the glacier crossing we recommend wearing trousers, and a long-sleeved layer on top also. Bring plenty of food and water (at least 2 litres) for the day’s walk, along with waterproofs, warm layers and comfortable stiff-soled walking boots for the glacier crossing. You may also wish to bring poles to help with balance, and the ascents and descents.
Points of Interest
Haut d’Arolla Glacier
The Haut d’Arolla glacier is approximately 3.5 km long, and is separated by ~2 km from the Bas glacier which you'll pass on your right-hand side as you walk from Arolla to the base of the Haut d'Arolla glacier. Between 1750-1850 the Bas Glacier and Haut d'Arolla glacier were joined and almost reached the village of Arolla, but since since the 1970s the Haut d'Arolla glacier has been retreating , even when it's nearby glaciers Bas Glacier and Glacier de Tsijiore Nouve were advancing.
Les Hauderes to Arolla Bus
Alight the bus from Les Hauderes at the Les Magine bus stop just on the hairpin bend in the road before Arolla village centre (this will usually be the second last stop on the bus for Arolla). If you get off the bus at Les Magine you can begin the trail directly from here, otherwise if you stay on the bus into Arolla centre then just descend to reach the trailhead at the car park at Les Magine.
Food & Drink
Today is a long day on the move – make sure to bring plenty of food and water (at least 2 litres) for the day. There is a bakery near the bus stop in Les Hauderes so if you don’t ask your accommodation for a packed lunch you can stock up here. Bring some extra snacks for the day so you can snack on your ascent to the Col Collon as an energy boost enroute. After descending 2.2 km from the col you’ll reach Rifugio Nacamuli where you can stop for a break and to refuel. Finish the day’s route in Rifugio Prarayer – dinner is a well-earned meal of hearty mountain food.
This tour is available on the following itineraries: WSTOTM, WSTOTMS