Tag Archives: hiking

Tour of Mont Blanc Courmayeur to Col de la Seigne

A good friend joined me in July 2016 for a series of walks, this one from Courmayeur required us driving through the Mont Blanc tunnel to start the walk. This adds to the days cost as a return trip through the tunnel was about 50 Euros.
The Cicerone guide suggests starting the walk in the centre of Courmayeur near the church at an altitude of 1226m, this would be a 18km walk out to Rifuigio Elisabetta (altitude 2195m) and same on return to the car. In order to make this more conducive of a day walk we made or way on the Via Val Veny, past the Hotel Val Veny and parked up just past the beautifully located Chalet Del Miage commencing the walk initially on road at an altitude of approximately 1400m. We decided to walk past Rifugio Elisabetta and to the La Casermetta (which once served as an Italian customs house) at an altitude of 2365m and up to Col de la Seigne (altitude 2516m), total return distance of about 24 km.

This was the first time exploring the Italian side of the TMB so I was looking forward to seeing Mont Blanc from the Italian side.

Val Veny alongside stream

Lake on TMB Val Veny

The path moves off road quite quickly to a track which runs parallel to a fast flowing stream and small lakes and TMB signs saying 55 mins to Rifuigo Elisabetta and 1 hour 50 mins to La Casermetta. Just past here the glaciers came into view, glacier du Miage namely.

TMB signs to Rifuigo Elisabetta and La Casermetta

View of Glacier du Miage

A while later the path climbs steeply past some interesting mountain chalets with curved roofs and fantastic views back down the valley.

Unusual mountain chalets TMB to Col de la Seigne

View down Val Veny near to Rifuigo Elisabetta

Rifugio Elisabetta which provides refreshments and accomodation, manned mid june until mid September and was a good place for a mid-morning break. Just past here was an evocative mountain chapel sitting forlorn amougst the splendour of the glaciers and Mont Blanc peaks.

Rifugio Elisabetta accommodation on TMB

Mountain chapel near Rifugio Elisabetta

After a break, we continued climbing until La Casermetta, where from the balcont was a splendid view of the valley. Inside was details of the local geology, history and some great descriptions of alpine flowers in the region. One being Gentiana Verna which I photograhed further along the track.

View from La Casermetta on TMB

Gentiana Verna alpine flowers on TMB

At Col de La Signe the usual TMB signs gave distances to Les Chapieux (alt 1554m) in France of 2 hours 30 mins, (stage 5 of TMB) and spectacular views across to the Italian side of Mont Blanc.

TMB sign at Col de la Seigne

View of Italian side of Mont Blanc

We descended back to the car and called in at Chalet del Miage for an ice cream & drinks, set in spectacular views of the glaciers it was a wonderful finish to a challenging hike in one of the most beautiful places in the Alps.

Mountain view from Chalet del Miage

Chalet del Miage

Hike to Lac Gers in Flaine Summer 2016

Summer Hike to Lac Gers in Flaine

During our holiday in Les Carroz d’Araches in the French Alps in July 2016, primarily for the Tour de France where stages 18, 19 and 20 were a short drive from Les Carroz d’Araches; I took the opportunity to do a walk in Flaine and further my stages of the Tour of Mont Blanc. I drove towards Flaine on the D106 Route de Flaine and parked at the bottom of Flaine at 1600 m altitude, catching the DMC telecabine to the peak at Flaine. It was a hot day with temperatures of 25C in Les Carroz d’Araches and 21 C in Flaine; the views of Mont Blanc from the summit were as spectacular as ever. I was surprised by the amount of snow at the summit for July. I have walked here in previous years and this is the most I had ever seen. There was a very good snow base winter 15-16 so I guess the depth of snow ensured it lasted through to summer.

Mont Blanc Summer 2016

Mont Blanc Summer 2016

Summer snow at Flaine summit

Summer snow at Flaine summit

Walking down from the summit to the whale-back ridge. A short walk along this narrow ridge gave some spectacular views of the Grand Massif and down the valley to Sixt Fer a Cheval, although the path to the peaks looked to precarious to go any further so returned to the serpentine piste and walked towards the Combe de Gers bowl.

View from Whale Back in Flaine

View from Whale Back in Flaine

Narrow path on Whaleback summit

Narrow path on Whaleback summit

The walk down to Lac Gers passes close to the Gers drag lift, a very steep drag, not for beginners. The view of the lake and valley down to Sixt Fer a Cheval opens up to wonderful views. The winding trail down was relatively straightforward, but the return on the other side of the valley virtually climbs straight, with no switchbacks, so it is very tiring and slow if you are not accustomed to alpine walking.

Combe de Gers bowl in summer

Combe de Gers bowl in summer

Signage at climb up from Lac Gers

Signage at climb up from Lac Gers

The signage throughout the hike was clear, as shown on the climb out from Lac Gers it suggests the distance to Flaine is 2 hr 30 min and 50 min back to Lac Gers. In practice I find that adding about 20% to the times gives a more realistic estimate allowing for rest breaks. We walked back to the Flaine bowl at 1600 m and car park. Total time on the hike was approximately 7 hours.

Hiking from Sixt fer a Cheval via Buvette de Prazon to Chalet du Boret

This was probably one of my most challenging hikes to date. I started at the cirque at Sixt fer a Cheval and walked to the chalet at the Buvette de Prazon, signposted below

Buvette de Prazon signpost

Buvette de Prazon signpost

and then climbed the Pas du Boret to the chalet du Boret. This is termed a “difficile” path; which is correct as one has to traverse across slippery rocks in the path of waterfalls, and on occasions climb via ferrata (iron steps). The path routes close to the cliff edge so one needs a good head for heights as the drop is vertical from the path edge. The signpost suggested 70 minutes to the Chalet du Boret, I took about 90 minutes with a few rest stops. There is an approximate 400 m elevation gain from 1020m at Buvette de Prazon to chalet du boret at 1390m, and about 500-600m from the car park at Sixt fer a Cheval to the chalet. There was a sign on route warning about dogs being used to guard livestock against Wolves and Lynx; the latter worried me more than the dogs.

The view from the chalet is quite spectacular, I’ve inserted a video showing a 360 degree view of the scenery.

 

The route back via le fond de la combe was about 7 km and signposting suggested 2.5 hours. The return route passed through woodland and adjacent to a waterfall, giving a spectacular view of the valley and source of the River Giffre as shown below.

Giffre Valley view

Giffre Valley view

Total time for the hike was about 4 hours, an altitude change of about 550m and a length of 10 km. Recommended for those who enjoy a challenge and do not suffer with vertigo. 🙂

Hiking in Flaine and Montagne d’Aujon September 2014

During our holiday in Les Carroz d’Araches in the French Alps in September 2014 I had wanted to walk some of the areas that I ski in Flaine during the winter so I drove towards Flaine on the D106 Route de Flaine and parked at the bottom of Flaine at 1600 m altitude. I walked up the Celestine red piste through the forests of d’aujon heading towards the drag lift called Aujon. In the winter these are nice winding pistes through the forest with a moderate incline. When hiking this seems a challenging incline; interesting and different perspective from winter to summer, skiing and walking. Below is a couple of photos of looking back towards Flaine.

View back to Flaine Forum

View back to Flaine Forum

Mountain view

Mountain view

 

Walking and pushing my mountain bike towards the Aujon area of skiing the views become quite spectacular. Below are a couple of photos showing the Aujon chalets and my mountain bike at about 1750 m altitude.

Aujon Colony in mountain at Flaine

Aujon Colony in mountain at Flaine

Mountain bike at 1750m

Mountain bike at 1750m

The return part of the journey was considerably quicker on the mountain bike, although in many parts it was too steep to safely ride the bike. I headed towards the Serpentine piste under the Grand Platieres lift with good views of the Grand Vans lift and ski slopes above Flaine.

Total time spent on the mountain was approx 2.5 hours with majority pushing the bike from the centre of Flaine to about 1800 m before the cycle back to 1600 m. 

View of Grand Vans lift in summer

View of Grand Vans lift in summer

A walk from Vernant lift to Tete de Saix, Flaine to Samoens peak.

We were on holiday in Les Carroz d’Araches in the French Alps in mid June. The weather changed from overcast to warm (22 C) with clear blue skies. I had wanted to walk some of the areas that I ski during the winter so I drove towards Flaine on the D106 Route de Flaine and parked at the Vernant ski lift car park, altitude of 1750m.

I walked along the path under the Telesiege du Lac ski chair, towards the Lac de Vernant at 1840m. Below is a couple of photos of the lake and the view towards the Route de Flaine and Pointe Percee as I started the climb towards Tete de Saix.

View of Lac de Vernant in summer

View of Pointe Percee and Lac de Vernant

 

 
 

 

 

 

The view from the top of Tete de Saix was magnificent, with far reaching views over Morillon, Samoens and a snow capped view of Mont Blanc. What was surprising for June was the amount of snow still around on the ground at altitude.  Below is another photo showing the ski signage at Tete de Saix at an altitude of 2120 m and a video showing the views panning through 360 degrees. 

Tete de Saix 360 view from Mont Blanc to Le Mole

Tete de Saix ski signage in summertime

Mountain Biking near Samoens and Flaine

The return part of the journey took half the time of the ascent. The wild mountain flowers were in abundance so I took a few photos shoing the contrast in colour from a bright yellow to a deep rich violet. A mountain biker was making the ascent on of the paths.

Violet flowers on Vernant to Samoens hike

Yellow flowers on Vernat hike

A walk from Morillon to Samoens along the Giffre river

After a couple of wet days in June 2012 we decided to walk from the Adventure park near the river in Morillon, alongside the river path and into Samoens for afternoon cafe time. This walk is not strenuous as there is no elevation change and is suitable for families and older people, assuming a reasonable level of fitness, as it takes 40 minutes and was approximatley 2 miles each way.

The River Giffre was fast flowing owing to the snow melt (still significant snow at elevations above 2000m) and recent storms. I’ve included a few of photos of the river near Morillon and the path showing cyclists. At this time of the year it is perfect for white water rafting; which we saw a group doing later in the walk. The photo is taken from a bridge over the River Giffre.

River Giffre near Morillon

Walk along Giffre and Cyclists

my kind of town

White water rafting on Giffre near Samoens
White water rafting looking towards Morillon

 

 

The track of the walk is shown below, taken from Google Earth. 

Morillon to Samoens hiking track

 

 

 

Wild flowers in Les Carroz August 2011

A walk from Les Feux to Les Molliets in Les Carroz

Wild flowers in Les Carroz August 2011

Wild flowers in Les Carroz August 2011

Another fine day in late August in Les Carroz, as the heat of the day was waning I drove to just outside Les Feux and started a walk to Les Molliets, the time was about 1730. The walk involves a reasonably gentle gradient all the way to Les Moilliets, from an elevation of 1250m to an elevation of 1450m over a distance of 2.5 km.

The walk goes past the Haute Combe refuge just off to one side of the track, through wooded areas and then into an open expanse of fields and farms. I’ve attached some photos of the walk, and on the return leg of the journey I remembered to activate my GPS tracker, so have attached an image of the walk showing the track in Google earth.

A walk to Refuge de Sales in the Grand Massif French Alps

We were on holiday in Les Carroz d’Araches in the French Alps in late August, with fantastic weather, blue skies and hardly a cloud. I had wanted to walk some of the GR 5 towards Flaine, so I drove to Sixt fer Cheval, and started the walk at Le Lignon at an altitude of 1180m, with an expectation to climb to about 2000m towards either one of the refuges. Near to the waterfall called Cascades de la Sauffaz the path split with the GR 5 heading towards Refuge d’Anterne and the GR 96 trail heading towards the Refuge de Sales.

The route is shown in the photo, taken from a picture board on the walk.

Gr 5 or GR 96 in Sixt fer Cheval

The walk from Le Lignon was quite steep, below is a photo looking North towards the start of the walk.

Gr 5 walk looking North to Sixt

 

La Sauffaz waterfall near Sixt fer Cheval

 

 

The waterfall was quite spectacular even late in the season, when there is no snow melt. I can imagine in spring that this would be a torrent.

Cascades de la Sauffaz near Sixt fer Cheval

Cascades de la Sauffaz near Sixt fer Cheval

I decided to take the Gr 96 and head towards the Refuge de Sales at 1840m. The walk passed some dried out stream beds, past mountain goats or Chamois grazing on the mountain sides, more waterfalls, across plateaus and around some narrow paths with safety ropes.

I was very pleased to capture the wild mountain goats, so close to the path. On all other walks I have spotted them in the distance on high rock ledges but never grazing on the lower mountain slopes.

A few movies showing the path and the view due North are below, with a gallery of the photos following.

I started at Le Lignon at 1000 and reached the Refuge at 1230, which included a couple of breaks to drink and eat sandwiches. The walk back was slightly quicker, taking about 2 hours.

Video of Gr 96 walk towards Refuge de Sales

Video of Gr 96 walk south of Sixt Fer Cheval

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Hiking in Sixt Fer Cheval Spring 2011

I visited Les Carroz d’Araches over the Easter break in 2011. The weather was unseasonably warm, reaching 20-22 degrees C in the village at 1200m altitude. The peaks were still snow capped which meant for some stunning scenery and photographic opportunities. I was tempted to do some end of April skiing in either Flaine or Chamonix, but opted instead for a number of walks.  I had assumed that the waterfalls would be quite spectacular given the snow melt so headed for the valley walk in Sixt fer Cheval, some 20-30 minutes drive from Les Carroz d’Araches. I commenced the hike at the Cirque du Cheval, at the cross, shown in the picture.

Cirque du Cheval walk start

Cirque du Cheval walk start

A map of the route is shown in the following photo taken from one of the guide displays.

Wild alpine flowers were in abundance, some blue variety shown here. No idea what they are ?

I’ve attached a gallery of the waterfalls and valley views as the walk progressed from the valley floor up to a height of approximately 1600m.


A fantastic walk, next time I’m aiming to get to the plateau at about 2200m, need a full day for that.

Les Carroz walk June 2008

During some beautiful weather in June 2008 I did a walk lasting a few hours, starting near the sports hall and tennis courts and then descending a few hundred metres into Araches-la-Frasse before making the ascent back to the village of Les Carroz d’araches.

Some of the photos taken on the walk with GPS co-ordinates at the location at which the photograph was taken are show below. I’ve also created a Google KMZ file so if you have Google Earth installed on your PC then clicking here Les Carroz walk as Google kmz file will display all the locations and photogaphs overlaid on the satellite imagery.