Tag Archives: walk

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 Contamines to Col du Bonhomme on stage 2

This is a blog in the sequence of walks as day hikes on the stages of the tour of Mont Blanc. The Cicerone book recommends starting the hike in the main village and walking alongside the road and paths past the campground of Le Pontet until Notre Dame de la Gorge where the ascent really starts. Owing to limited parking in the village I opted for parking at a large car park at Notre Dame de la Gorge (1210m), which has a public toilet and supply of drinking water and a small bridge nearby to cross the torrent.

The walk passes nearby to the church, and signs clearly mark out the TMB route to Col du Bonhomme. The  TMB rises steeply on an old Roman path, past a scenic rock arch and over a Roman bridge to the first cafe restaurant on the walk called Alpinus Lodge about 45 minutes from Notre Dame de la Gorge. This is a pleasant place to stop with recliners and tables with parasols and a varied selection of food and drinks.

A few hundred meters further up the trail is the Refuge Nant Borrant which provides accommodation and alternative refreshments and food. The trail then flattens out into a wide valley with magnificent views of the Aiguille de la Pennaz.

As the trail starts to climb again and just before the Refuge de la Balme is a toilet block and a drinking water supply. From the Refuge de la Balme (1706m)  to Col du Bonhomme (2329m) there is no let up on the ascent. In July large patches of snow could still be seen to the left of the trail which zig-zags up the mountain.

This is the highest peak climbed so far on the walks, and maybe it was because it was cooler than my stage 1 walk (24 C on the return to Les Contamines in late afternoon) but I found it easier than the climb to the Col de Tricot.

At the Col du Bonhomme is a warming hut and a map showing the Massif du Mont Blanc peaks of which Mont Blanc was just visible popping out of the clouds and good views of the Dome de Miage.

The descent back to Nore Dame de la Gorge was tricky down to the Refuge de la Balme so walking poles are essential to assist in stability.

I enjoyed a refreshing cold beer, resting in one of the recliners at the Alpinus lodge on the return. Such a treat.

I returned to Les Contamines 7.5 hours after the start, so ideal for a day hike, the maps show a total distance of 15.2 km. To complete stage 2 of the TMB requires a hike from Les Chapieux to Col Du Bonhomme. One for another day.

TMB signs at Notre Dame de la Gorge

TMB signs at Notre Dame de la Gorge

Roman bridge near to Alpinus lodge

Roman bridge near to Alpinus lodge

Valley view of Aiguille de la Pennaz

View of Aiguille de la Pennaz

View back to Refuge de la Balme

View back to Refuge de la Balme

Col de la Croix du Bonhomme

View of Col de la Croix du Bonhomme

Warming hut on Col du Bonhomme

Warming hut on Col du Bonhomme

Massif Du Mont Blanc

Massif Du Mont Blanc

Beer at Alpinus Lodge on return

Beer at Alpinus Lodge on return

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

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.