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WHERE THEY WENT

Aspiring to hike an alpine classic

Rae Andre, right, and her daughter Megan hiked part of the Chamonix-Zermatt route. Rae Andre, right, and her daughter Megan hiked part of the Chamonix-Zermatt route.
Email|Print| Text size + By Diane Daniel
Globe Correspondent / December 17, 2006

WHO: Rae Andre, 60, and her daughter Megan, 13, of Lexington

WHERE: Switzerland

WHEN: 10 days in August

WHY: To hike a segment of the Chamonix-Zermatt Walker's Haute Route, a celebrated long-distance hike .

TAKING THE HIGH ROAD: "I have friends in the French region next to Switzerland and we've hiked around there in recent years with them," said Andre, who also hikes with her daughter in New England. After discovering the guidebook "Chamonix to Zermatt: The Walker's Haute Route " by Kev Reynolds (Cicerone , 2001), she decided to tackle part of that classic trip. "You walk from one valley to another, over the fingers of mountains." They reached an altitude of about 8,500 feet.

TAILORING THE TREK: "One of the things that attracted me is we could stay in a hotel or hostel overnight and didn't have to backpack," said Andre. Still, the pair had to carry clothing, some food and supplies, and sleep sacks. "The whole thing takes two weeks, which was too difficult for us, so we were going to try for a segment that would take five days."

HEAVENLY HUT: The first day they took a steep three-hour walk to Cabane de Moiry. "It was an incredible alpine hut run by the Swiss. You're surrounded by a glacier on two sides and you're perched over it." They always recalculated hiking times from Reynolds's book. "Everybody says he's way too fast. Most people go 20 percent slower; we went 40 percent slower."

LIMITED VISION: "The next day we had this gorgeous hike over the Col de Sorebois to Zinal. We went back down the mountain and around a long path, to go over the col, or pass. It took about seven hours," she said. "It was raining and misting, but when we came over the col , the sun came out and we were finally able to see the fabulous glaciers at the end of the valley. But in 10 minutes it got socked in again."

SHORT-CIRCUITED: Because it was still raining and Megan had developed a sore throat, they decided to shorten the day's walk by hopping on a bus and then a cog railway to the famed Hotel Weisshorn. The next day Megan felt worse and it had turned cold, so they went by bus to the alpine town of Grachen before reaching their ending point in Zermatt. "We spent two nights in Grachen. Unfortunately , what we missed was the famous pass between Gruben and Grachen called the Augstbordpass," Andre said. "I plan to go back and do that someday."

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