Day 10 Thursday 25 August Cabane de Moiry to Zinal

The Cabane was extended a few years ago. The dining area is in the new part and has floor to ceiling windows so, like dinner last night, breakfast was eaten with the icefall in full view. I was soon heading off over the boulders steeply downhill. My knee was quite painful at the end of this. Worryingly it seemed to come from the joint, not the surrounding muscles like a strain.

At the foot of the moraine the path branched and I took the upper branch that contoured across the hillside, keeping well above the valley and the lac du Moiry.

Heading down the boulder field from the Cabane du Moiry

The path continued to undulate along the valley. For the first time, there were field boundaries, although these seemed rather flimsy. There were turnstiles for walkers between the fields.

The lac du Moiry is a reservoir. I think the dam is an example of a non-gravity dam. The dam is 148m high and its arched shape means that some of the force of the water is taken by the shape of the wall rather than just by its integral strength. However, I am not a hydraulic engineer so correct me if I am wrong. Once past the dam I took the path that climbed steadily and easily to the Col de Sorebois. There were good views back to the dam and lake

Barrage de Moiry
Looking up the Val du Moiry from the path up to Col de Sorebois

It was really nice to walk across pastures after the stony wilderness of the last few days. I was soon at the top of the col. Ahead of me was the Weisshorn and an impressive ridge of mountains that separates the Val d’Anniviers from the Materall.

Looking east from the Col de Sorebois

This barrier extends beyond Zermatt as far as a high glacier and the Matterhorn. I will have to turn north, away from Zermatt, to find a pass through the mountains. For now, my task was to descend to Zinal. There was a fairly easy descent to a plateau about 1000m above the valley.

I was now in the Van d’Anniviers ski area. The lifts and runs of the Zinal sector were displayed before me. The pistes did not spoil the landscape but the lift pylons are an eyesore. It would be hypocritical of me to complain as I enjoy skiing. I used to be critical of the railway up Snowdon until I saw a disabled person get off the train. This enabled him to see what it was like to be on the top of a mountain, which he would otherwise have been denied. I guess it is a compromise that all people should have some access to high places, there are enough that are kept wild for trekkers and climbers. And we compromise the environment by eroding paths and travelling there anyway.

Today I was pleased to be in a ski area. I walked to the top of the gondola. Below this, the path descends extremely steeply through woodland and is described as “knee crunching” in the Cicerone guide. When I had my Icicle briefing it was suggested I rode down the mountain to protect my knee. After my experience of this morning I decided that it was more important to get to Zermatt rather than “walk every inch of the way” and took the gondola. 12.5€ well spent. When I saw Felix at the Europahut he said the walk down was awful with no views to benefit the experience.

I arrived early in Zinal, a pleasant village, and found the hotel Trift where I was staying.

I dumped my rucksack and set off to buy some food for tomorrow’s lunch. “Hi Ray,” a voice called out, it was a Jamie, his walking companions and his wife, who was following them through the valleys. A pleasant afternoon was spent drinking wine and beer in excellent company. Much better than struggling down steep paths through forest.

Le Trift was nice too. my own room (luxury). The Demi-pension menu was nice with myrtle tart and blackcurrant ice cream for pudding. Delicious!

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