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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You could not do The Haute Route without this book!, 5 Aug 2001
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cirving496@aol.com (San Jose, California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Haute Route Chamonix-Zermatt: Guide for Skiers and Mountain Walkers (Paperback)
The Haute Route by Peter Cliff provides an extremely accurate description of an Alpine expedition. The Classic Route included diagrams, photos, and narratives and offered sufficient information for us, as an unguided group of five, to navigate our way successfully from Chamonix to Zermatt in the anticipated eight days (July 17-July 24, 2001). Poor weather hampered our start, but with the use of the spot-heights provided in the guide, a map and compass, and limited visibility, we were able to proceed. The sections of the route which Peter Cliff described as challenging proved to be so. Long sections were indeed very long. The scenery was equally as breath-taking as he described. His time estimates were very close that of our group (give or take a little), depending upon snow and weather conditions. The Classic Route is essentially a long walk requiring sustained effort, both mental as well as physical, and Peter Cliff's guide proved to be a reliable and thorough source of information to assist in route-finding and where variations/alternatives may be found if required. We carried the guide through the Alps and referred to it frequently. This guide can be highly recommended for anyone seriously interested in negotiating their way through the highest mountains of the Alps. As far as personal recommendations to readers of this book are concerned, there are only a few: (1) it is not necessary to purchase all the maps listed in the guide - select either the 1:25,000 or the 1:50,000, not both. (2) purchase a reliable altimeter - use it for frequent spot-height checks. (3) do not expect to see lots of other walkers on The Haute Route - route-finding is a challenge and a guide such as this is invaluable. (4) add a pair of ear-plugs to your equipment list - you will need them at the more popular/noisy huts. (5) the La Breya chairlift is spectacularly high and an extremely enjoyable part of the journey - during the period we were there, it ran constantly and was moderately priced at 9 Swiss Francs. Finally, we heard it rumoured that Peter Cliff was at the Albert Premier Hut on July 17, and that we had just missed him. It would have been a pleasure to meet him in person and thank him for writing such an entertaining, enjoyable and informative book.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Haute-Route on skis..., 9 Feb 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Haute Route Chamonix-Zermatt: Guide for Skiers and Mountain Walkers (Paperback)
Based on the route-descriptions, the previous reviewer appears to refer only to the summer walker's section of this book (you certainly won't be taking the avalanche-prone summer route from the La Breya lift in the course of a ski-mountaineering Haute-Route).
However, the positive assessment extends to the ski section, as well. This is a wonderful guide to one of the great alpine ski tours, including details critical to route-finding over complex, glaciated terrain in possibly poor visibility.
Recognizing that choice of ski-mountaineering routes is extremely conditions & skills dependent, the book includes information on the true classic route--including the brilliant but technical Plateau du Couloir & the tiresome, plodding Otemma glacier--as well as several typical &/or desirable variations like Verbier & Grand Lui.
Cliff's guide contains some route photos & stylized maps that are useful for generalized visualization of route segments. I would have preferred that he include a map of the complete route, but it isn't really necessary because you absolutely will need to purchase at least some of the recommended topo maps (pick the 1:50,000 ski topos; they include major ski route lines & are frequently updated by the efficient Swiss government. The smaller-scale 1:25,000 maps are beautiful, but do not show routes; also, you would have to purchase so many of them that they are not practical).
The author includes interesting asides about the history of the route & adjacent areas. The accomplishments of early Haute Route ski-pioneers are truly astounding, given the rudimentary nature of their gear & clothing.
The book's information regarding hut contacts is somewhat limited (although newer editions may address this); many of the huts recently acquired web sites & e-mail addresses that greatly simplify reservations for language-challenged Americans. On this point, Cliff--with classic British reserve--perhaps under-emphasizes the utility of rudimentary French &/or German skills in accomplishing the Haute Route; it is difficult to take advantage of the hut-keeper's local knowledge with only English in your quiver.
He also doesn't address telemark equipment in much depth. For better or worse, to Americans ski touring usually means telemarking, so talk to a knowledgeable guide before showing up on pins. You need to make some adjustments, most notably: jury-rigging a pair of harscheisen.
The book does not include any coverage beyond the Haute Route, so if you intend to do day tours in Chamonix to warm up or in Zermatt before continuing on to Saas Fee, then look elsewhere: "Mont Blanc Ski Tours" is excellent.
"High level route, Chamonix, Zermatt, Saas: Ski mountaineering in the Mont Blanc range and Pennine Alps" by Eric Roberts is another good guide to the Haute Route if you can find it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This made my friends christmas, 30 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Haute Route Chamonix-Zermatt: Guide for Skiers and Mountain Walkers (Paperback)
Bought this as a present for my friend not knowing it was something she has always wanted to but not got round to. So when she opened this it has now prompted her to do the walk in April! She says it is very informative and well written. This from a ski instructor and well travelled skier.
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