Snowhole bivvy on the Haute Route

Haute (off) Route

By Alpkit

Embarking on a haute offroute adventure, exploring untamed landscapes with passion and determination.

Thank you so much for the Filo down jacket that I ordered 2 months ago - it literally saved my life! I am so happy that I decided to buy it just before my holidays to the Alps..

Here's the story. I planned to do the Haute Route on ski's from Chamonix to Zermatt together with 3 friends. On the day that we had to do the crux of the route, the weather forecasts told us that the weather would improve during the day. That was great news, because the weather hadn't really been good the day before, the day that we climbed to the Valsorey hut. In the morning the visibility was good enough to do the difficult and rather steep col, so we were happy. We went off, and climbed the col quite easily.

When we arrived at the col, we were surprised by some unhappy news: the other side of the col was full with fog. That was of course the way we had to go down, and we all knew that skiing in the fog isn't the least dangerous thing to do. But it was still early and we hoped for the promised weather improvement. It was hard to find the way in the fog, and after ceveral attempts (which all took hours and hours) we finally found the tracks of the people in front of us. These tracks lead us very far, and we felt lucky that we had found them. We would arrive at the hut before darkness! We checked them with the map, and on every crucial point, they exactly did what the route told us to do. We made a big mistake and began to trust in these tracks.

Somewhere we saw that the tracks were lost as well. And thus so were we. Because the route originally didn't go trough dangerous (and steep) terrain, we hadn't been in dangerous situations, but because we weren't on the route anymore, we felt that we had to go on a slope that was too steep, and that the snow was too unstable. At one point we thus had to decide to dig a snowhole - and wait for the bad weather to be over. Of course we had no signal there, and we hoped the rescue teams weren't out searching for us. We digged for 4 hours, and dug a hole that was almost 3x3x1,5m. It was much more comfortable than we thought, it stayed around zero degrees, whereas outside it was -15 degrees. We had bivac bags, stoves, and food, AND I had my Filo Down Jacket. Without it, I would certainly have been really really cold, but now I was ok. We killed the time, and slept a bit, and hoped that the next day the weather would be better. The next day, one of us climbed out of our snowhole, and came back with bad news. The weather was still the same as the day before. We thus had to wait a litte longer. Finally, after 30 hours, we saw that the weather had improved. That was at 11pm. At 12.30am we were on our ski's again, and we were able to find a safe way back to the hut. That night was really one of the most beautiful nights I have ever experienced. It was full moon, a big, yellow moon just above the mountains lighting up the mountains. We didn't even need our headlights. When we finally arrived at the hut at 5am it felt like a victory. We made it, we were still alive, and we were safe. I dried my Filo, and all my other clothes, and soon fell fast asleep - I'm sure that I won't go on any adventure anymore without it.

Thank you!


Lightweight, waterproof hooped bivvy bag weighing less than 1kg
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Ultralight backpacking tent: 1-person XL, 3-season, 1.31kg
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Spacious, backpacking tunnel tent: 2-person, 3-season, 3.2kg
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Spacious, backpacking tunnel tent: 3-person, 3-season, 3.9kg
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Geodesic backpacking tent: 2-person, 3-season, 3kg
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Ultralight backpacking tent: 2-person, 3-season, 1.4kg
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Ultralight backpacking tent: 3-person, 3-season, 1.7kg
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