Tag Archives: les houches

Tour of Mont Blanc Les Houches to Le Brevent (Stage 8 TMB)

A good friend joined me in July 2016 for a series of walks starting with Stage 8 (Cicerone guide) from Les Houches to Le Brevent and if possible La Flegere. The Cicerone guide suggests starting at the tourist office in Les Houches if parking is avaliable, we started at Le Pont des Gures (altitude 980m) where signs state that the Refuge de Bellachat is a 3 hours 40 min walk. For a day walk this seemed challenging but achiveable as we had to walk back to the car in Les Houches.

I was looking foward to the hike, and had done some 10 mile walks in the UK in preparation, and I knew from skiing in the area that the views of the mountains would be magnificent, plus we would pass by the massive Statue du Christ-Roi which I had seen on many occassions from the A40 drive into Chamonix.

The climb to the Statue du Christ-Roi (altitude 1196M, statue height of 25m) was steep and through woods so nicely shaded. It took close to 50 minutes to reach the statue which is on a rocky crag overlooking the panorma of Mont Blanc.

Walk through forest stage 8 TMB

Statue Christ-Roi stage 8 TMB

The path then climbs past Parc Merlet mountain Zoo (altude 1563m), which took about 60 minutes from the statue. The Parc holds 80 mountain animals in their natural environment, eg deer, marmot, chamois and Ibex. Near here the forest ends with abundant photo opportunities of the uninterrupted views of the magnificent Mont Blanc range. After a lunch break, we continued climbing until we were within sight of Refuge De Bellachat but as we started the hike at 1000 am, and it was 1430 we decided to turn around and descend back to Les Houches.

Rog enjoying the Mont Blanc views

Mont Blanc range and Chamonix valley

 

It was a wonderful sunny alpine day with temperatures on the hike exceeding 20 C at altitude. I was appreciative of the forest shade on the return path. Despite the practice walks in the UK the climb (and return) to almost 1800m from 980m on a hot day was a challenging and fanatastic start to a week of alpine walking.

Tour of Mont Blanc Les Houches to Les Contamines – July 2015

As a later life challenge I decided to do the Tour of Mont Blanc (TMB)  in stages, generally splitting each stage of the hike into two separate walks, so I can return to the car without having to find public transport or stay overnight in mountain accommodation.

For stage 1 from Les Houches (altitude 1007 m) to Les Contamines I planned to walk from the Les Houches tourist office, located in the centre of Les Houches with plenty of parking space available. As a guide I used the popular Cicerone book by Kev Reynolds. The signposts are excellent with the green TMB logo and GR5 detailed throughout the walk as photographed at various stages throughout the walk. The planned walk was the variant to Col de Tricot at 2120 (via Col de Voza) and back to Les Houches. (NB: the usual stage 1 walk to Les Contamines is via Bionnassay and La Champel with Col de Tricot route classed as a variant)

The climb starts near Le Grand Balcon where you have to ascend a series of wooden steps for a few hundred metres prior to the track commencing. The route to Col de Voza is well signposted and would be difficult to go wrong. At Col de Voza (1653m) is one of the stops on the Tramway du Mont Blanc cog railway that runs from La Fayet to Nid d’Aigle at 2380m. The village de vacances APAS hotel at Col de Voza was having a large extension built on the side making more rooms available. From the Tourist office to Col de Voza was about 2 hours with some great views of Aiguille du midi and the Les Houches ski pistes on the way. The climb was steep in places, but thankfully shady in many parts.

There is a cafe/restaurant on the way to Col de Voza and a pretty restaurant at Col de Voza serving the needs of those who get off the Tramway du Mont Blanc railway to enjoy the scenery and views. More importantly there is a tap saying eau potable (drinking water) which was essential for re-filling water supplies.

The trail from Col de Voza to Col de Tricot passes the Bellevue hotel and runs alongside the railway track for a while until it moves off into a narrow trail through woods.

On walking to the meadows near the Bionnassay glacier I decided to make my way back rather than climb to the Col de Tricot as it was getting late in the day and I had a couple of hours in unusually hot 25 C temperature weather to do the decent back to Les Houches. (temperature in Les Houches reached 31C on this day).

A collage of photos of signposts on the route and some of the spectacular scenery is shown below.

 

Wooden steps on start of walk out of Les Houches

Wooden steps on start of walk out of Les Houches

TMB sign at LE Tremble

TMB sign at LE Tremble

TMB sign at Le Pont de Belleface

TMB sign at Le Pont de Belleface

View towards Aiguille du Midi

View towards Aiguille du Midi

Sign at Cold de Voza station

Sign at Cold de Voza station

Trains at Col de Voza station

Trains at Col de Voza station

TMB sign at Bellevue

TMB sign at Bellevue

View at Bionnassay glacier

View at Bionnassay glacier