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  1. #1
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    Haute Route - looking for guide recomendations and general beta

    I'm planning for some variant of the classic Haute Route so that I can scratch that off the 'ol bucket list. I've read a lot of online content from one guide or another, and bought the Ciccerone Guide book to the Western Alps, which covers the classic Haute Route plus the Verbier extension option as well as other classic routes. My goal is for the route I ultimately choose to have as much skiing as possible, and kick-ass, balsy skiing at that.

    I'm looking for beta from anyone that has been there and done that, and can offer their opinions on what they liked, what they didn't, and what they would have done differently.

    Also, any recommendations for a guide service would be great as there are a shit ton of them out there. I'm familiar with a handful of them, but I'd like to find as many good options as possible.

    Bottom line is that this is a serious commitment in terms of money and time, and I want to get it as right as possible.

    Thanks in advance hombres and chicas.

  2. #2
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    You'll have better luck reposting in the ski and snowboard section. Come back and post a trip report in here after your trip!
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

    meager stoke

  3. #3
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    Miles Smart

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    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  4. #4
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    Why the alias?

  5. #5
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    Unless you get a private, you will not ski much steep stuff on the haute route.

    The guide's goal is to get everyone safely to complete the tour, and there there isn't a lot of time to do side trips to ski that steep couloir you see on the way.

    The hr is more for ambiance, friends, views than for skiing.

  6. #6
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    The alias? Hah, no reason. Forgot I logged in with that, but now I guess I'll have to stick with it to repost in the Ski & Snowboard thread

    I'm hoping to pull together 6-7 people in the hopes of getting a 'private', but have some details to work through before I can confirm the # of people. All strong skiers, but unfortunately not all have mountaineering experience so I know that'll limit what the group can do.

    Just Googled Smart Mountain Guides - Thank You PNWBrit! Have you used these folks?

  7. #7
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    Yep.

    Highly recommend them.

    Also.. "all strong skiers.. looking for the gnarly descents" isn't really going to be much different than any mountain guide hears from every potential client.

    Combined with no mountaineering experience they're are going to want to see you ski and how you behave as a group, if you follow instructions from them. Before any thing beyond base level trip.

    Full honest description of level of group will be better appreciated and work in your favor...Any touring, any weaker/less experienced members, avy training, own and know their own gear.
    Last edited by PNWbrit; 08-06-2017 at 04:02 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  8. #8
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    Does it have to be hot rout? Need to check that box? Cuz there are other tours that have better skiing that Miles and others could guide you on.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  9. #9
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    Hmm, i responded to PNWB's "all strong skiers, gnarly descents ... " comment, but for some reason it went through some type of admin approval step or something or other (?) so I'm not sure if it'll show up ? We'll see if it happens again ...

    Anyway, yeah I totally get where you're coming from there - I'm sure guides cringe when clients tell them that they're "awesome aggro skiers". My comment was more about the general tour selection (HR versus Ortler for example) in that the HR is sometimes described, as previously in this thread, as being "more for ambiance, friends, views than for skiing", and I'm hoping to find something skewed more towards the skiing.

    Plugboots - The HR has been on my bucket list for a long time, but after getting into the research I'm finding that I can probably move it down the list for my "golden years" . Your point is exactly what I'm after - a 'similar' tour with perhaps better skiing. Since latching onto Miles' web site I'm really interested in learning more about Ortelr now.

  10. #10
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    Haute Route - looking for guide recomendations and general beta

    You could also try Keith Garvey at all mountain adventures I've skied with him a lot.
    http://www.allmountainadventures.com/skiing/overview/

    So I should add I have skied a lot with Keith, I haven't skied with Miles but I've met him a few times. It's nice to ski with American guides in Europe because, well, they speak English and are American etc., but in some ways it's cooler to spend time with the local guy. Maybe their English isn't so good, but it's kind of fun to be in Europe with the European guide. That said, Keith has the nose for powder. His pics from the Ortler looked like the shit.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlatantAlias View Post
    what I'm after - a 'similar' tour with perhaps better skiing.
    (from https://www.ncmountainguides.com/adv...er-haute-route)

    After running trips on thefamous Chamonix to Zermatt haute route for nearly 15 years, we decided the time was right to expand our horizons. While the classic Haute route travels through some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, those looking to satisfy their desires for awesome skiing are often disappointed. The Urner Haute route is one that will satisfythose looking for both great skiing and breathtaking scenery.
    In a much quieter part of the Central Swiss Alps, this tour links two smaller, butlegendary deep snow ski towns, Engelberg and Andermatt. In recent years, Engelberg in particular has become somewhat of an off piste mecca for skiers in the know and has gained much popularity amongst Scandinavians skiers. Whileboasting several ski areas of its own, Andermatt is also largely known for its off piste runs.
    Touring between these two towns will take us through some steep, rugged and magnificent terrain. Most days on thetour will involve fine descents and over thecourse of the tour numerous summit options exist if conditions and energy allow.

    Also, ask here: http://www.andermatt-guides.ch/en/about.html for Dan Loutrel (birdo, birdoskis). Danny knows a lot of great routes all over and can set you up doing 6k vert days tours off lifts or guide the Urner, the Oberalpstock or Ortler variations. Great guy, has taken me to several incredibly cool out of the way monster ski experiences.

    Here's the second half of a line we skied off the back of a peak adjacent to Disentis, one hour train ride from Andermatt, skied a few warm up laps. skinned an hour, skied this line, took the train back to Disentis and made a couple more lift laps.



    Another great resource for touring is the Monte Rosa areas of Champoluc/Gressoney/Alagna for either lift assisted day tours or longer hut to hut experiences in the area.

    Here's a contact: https://www.alagna.it/en/winter/moun...rgio-gabbio-2/ . We skied with Sergio on a trip around the Monte Rosa in a day: Alagna lifts to heli up to the Lyskamm, down the Gorner to Zermatt, up the Kleine Matterhorn, down into Cervinia, up out of Cervinia then a long traverse down into Champoluc, lifts up out of Champoluc, ski down into Gressoney, lifts up out of Gressoney, ski back to Alagna all in one day. This route has a variant called the Spaghetti Tour which is a 6 day skinning tour around the Monte Rosa.
    Last edited by Buster Highmen; 08-07-2017 at 01:30 PM.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>> Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by plugboots View Post
    YI haven't skied with Miles but I've met him a few times. It's nice to ski with American guides in Europe because, well, they speak English and are American etc., but in some ways it's cooler to spend time with the local guy. Maybe their English isn't so good, but it's kind of fun to be in Europe with the European guide.
    I think the Smarts are counted as locals?

    2nd Buster on recommending NCMG particularly Jeff Ward also of course Martin Volken who is both American... and a Swiss native.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  13. #13
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    Yet another recommendation: http://www.proguiding.com/

    Martin Volken is well renowned for his guiding and is Swiss, as are some of his other guides. Rinaldo Borra, one of the guides, is from and lives in Grindelwald and knows the Alps as well as anyone. Mike Hattrup guided for Pro Guiding for a number of years, although I don't think is now but is still shown on the site. HR is one of their annual tours that they've led somewhere around 40 times with variations.

    ETA, PNW Brit beat me to it...

  14. #14
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    I went with Markus Beck @ Alpine World Ascents a few years ago, doing the Chamonix-Verbier-Zermatt route. He was great, knows the route(s) very well, speaks all the languages, knows a bunch of the hut caretakers, etc. If weather goes to shit he can come up with alternate options pretty easily. I'd go with him again.

    Full disclosure, I went with him as the cook on a week long trip in BC a couple years ago which meant a mostly-free trip. I paid full costs for the Haute Route trip, and have no financial interests or entanglements with Markus.
    "It need not be fun to be fun." - Big Steve

    throughpolarizedeyes.com

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNWbrit View Post
    I think the Smarts are counted as locals?

    2nd Buster on recommending NCMG particularly Jeff Ward also of course Martin Volken who is both American... and a Swiss native.
    Yes, I know what you mean, and they are great people, as are the proguiding folks, etc., hard to make a bad choice here.

    I guess, what I mean is, (my buddy and I who go to La Grave with every winter), now like to not get the private trip, (just us with a guide), and like to ski with people from other countries in our group, and like to be guided by the not-born-in-America person. I just feel like I've had more of a trip... away. Dinners seem more fun with people we don't know, etc. Again, I can't over-recommend Keith, he's great. I watched Miles belay kids into La Voute, and had beers with them after, and he is absolutely top notch. I've skied with Jeff and Larry from NC Guiding, (and seen their slideshow about the Ortler), more great people. I've skied with Joey Vallone, and he's a riot. blah.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldMember View Post
    Yet another recommendation: http://www.proguiding.com/

    Martin Volken is well renowned for his guiding and is Swiss, as are some of his other guides. Rinaldo Borra, one of the guides, is from and lives in Grindelwald and knows the Alps as well as anyone. Mike Hattrup guided for Pro Guiding for a number of years, although I don't think is now but is still shown on the site. HR is one of their annual tours that they've led somewhere around 40 times with variations.

    ETA, PNW Brit beat me to it...

    Damn. $2400 for 6 days of guiding, lodging, 2 meals a day, luggage transfer, etc. Either ski trips have fucked with my brain or that is downright reasonable.

    As someone who got their first taste of hut touring last year this looks like a very attractive goal in the next couple of years.

  17. #17
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    Another less known in America big tour is the Col des Ecrins out of La Grave over to Pelvoux
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>> Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  18. #18
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    sssshhhh
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  19. #19
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    do tell ... please!

  20. #20
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    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  21. #21
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    Late to the thread, but another good guide option is Francis Kelsey www.nosiesta.com He is an America but has bben living a guide in Europe for about 25 years, so is as local guide as it gets. Nothing against Americans guiding in Europe, but a lot of them guide for a month or two verses others that have lived there year round and have down everything multiple times, and have the local variations dialed.

    He has guided a few Gordy camps, and can deal with the vagaries of European skiing. On my last trip with him the skiing absolutely sucked, so we went rock climbing on the Italian Riviera for a couple of days until conditions improved. That is the kind of flexibility of local guides.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  22. #22
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    Thanks Hutash - Nosiesta had already made my short list, and not just because I dig the website name

    I've got a really good short list of truly rock star guides - thanks to all for your input. After talking to several of them and spending a lot of time researching the plan is morphing more into basing out of Cham and hitting day tours and linking up huts to reach objectives rather than the typical hut trip. You bring up an excellent point in that this type of trip should be planned to be flexible around the weather and conditions, and that's exactly what we're doing.

    Now it's time to lock in the guide and some dates.

    Thx

  23. #23
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    Have a fun trip. While the Haute Route is still a really cool thing to do, and worth the effort, there is better skiing to be had with different options. Francis is great about adapting to current conditions, and being a local has a massive network of guides he communicates with to see what is happening. On my HR trip he connected with friends stuck in various huts saying how bad things were, hence our on the fly switch to rock climbing. We still completed the HR, Cham to Zermatt, with a Finale Ligra/Cervinia variation. We did get to ski the Briethorn from the summit in fresh pow, so the trip went well, just not as originally planned.

    We expect a trip report

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

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