Click on the links below for details of our trip and a photo gallery

On Thursday morning we have a later start hoping that the weather will clear. In fact it is still cloudy as we start our descent down a rocky gulley from the hut to reach the slopes below. Then we have a long ski down and across towards the Zinal valley. As we descend the wind gets up and 70 kph gusts of spin drift snow blind us intermittently. We make a short skin up over a ridge (roc de la Vache) then continue on down watching amazing snow being blown off Besso, above us, like huge avalanches pouring off the mountain (below).

We continue down through the trees to reach a stream where we put on our skins. From here we have a long ascent up the Zinal valley and glacier. The ascent is quite gentle at first, crossing a stream a few times. At the nose of the glacier is a huge cave in the ice where we can stop out of the wind to grab a drink and a snack. On the glacier we are amused to see a fellow tourer sitting down to a picnic, his back to the strong wind, with his private guide feeding him slices of cheese! Then we climb more steeply with amazing views of the surrounding mountains - the Grand Cornier to our right and Ober Gabelhorn ahead of us.

We spot the hut, high on the ridge to our left but there is still a lot of climbing to go to get there. The last steep rising traverse is very exposed and made much harder by the icy snow and super strong winds. Daniel escorts us carefully up the worst bit and suddenly the hut is right there in front of us. The Grand Mountet hut is older and more traditional than Tracuit but cosy and welcoming. This time we feast on 'omelette mountain' as Tommy christens it!

Next morning the alarm goes off at 5am and we pack for the last time in the dark as all the hut lights are still off. At 5:30 tea, meusli and bread magically appears along with our water bottles filled with hot mint tea.

We start by skiing down the slopes we climbed yesterday - amazing how something so tough can be descended in a few minutes. Then a long steady climb in spectacular settings. We are heading towards the Pointe de Zinal. At the first steep slope the guides are nervous of slab avalanches after yesterday's wind and spindrift. We spread out and ascend carefully reaching the top as the Dent Blanche behind us comes into full sunlight.

Here we swing East towards the Col Durand, between the Pointe de Zinal and Mont Durand. There are great views of the ridge running from the Ober Gabelhorn to the Weisshorn. The last steep slope again has the guides worried about avalanche and they carefully prepare a trail and send us up one by one. Once up it is an easy skin up hard packed snow to the col (3436m) where we get amazing views of the Matterhorn right in front of us. Now we can relax, take photos and greet the other climbers, many of whom have been with us for the past 5 days.

We briefly consider climbing over another ridge but instead set off down. It is getting much warmer and we want to get down before the powder turns to mush. The skiing high up is terrific with amazing views of the Matterhorn and Dent d'Herens. This turns to spring snow as we get lower and traverse across the valley to end up with a walk to the restaurant at Stafelalp. Back to civilisation!

We have covered 71km and over 4500m of ascent in the past 5 days, and to Tommy's amusement, used all the kit that we brought with us (except for the rescue equipment). After a fine lunch at Zum See we get curious looks from the Asian tourists as we walk to Zermatt railway station, ropes and ice axes hanging off our sacks. A couple of hours later we are picking up the car and heading for home. Thanks Daniel for a great week.