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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. 🙂