Hike to Aiguille Croche & Mont Joly

During summer, I went on a hike to Aiguille Croche and Mont Joly, in the Beaufortain mountains above Saint-Gervais.

Here is a map of the path I walked (download KML):

In the morning, I took a train from Annecy to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains-Le Fayet. From the train station, there was some time before the next bus, so instead of waiting, I walked through the forest until the next bus stop in the village of Saint-Gervais. From there, I took a LIHSA bus to the center of Les Contamines-Montjoie, a ski resort further in the valley. I switched to a free summer shuttle that got me to the Télécabine de la Gorge. I boarded the gondola then switched to another cable car, Télécabine du Signal, which arrived at Le Signal and the start of the hiking trail. The trail went through the Col du Joly on the way to the Aiguille Croche. There was a great view from up there with the Aravis, the Mont Blanc and the Beaufortain well visible. I then followed the ridge to Mont Joly, passing through Tête du Véleray and Tête de la Combaz on the way. There was also a great view from Mont Joly. I soon started on the steep descent and reached a dirt road after a while, which I followed until Mont d’Arbois. I arrived just in time to board the Téléphérique du Bettex before it closed. I needed to switch gondola at Le Bettex to get back to Saint-Gervais. Finally, I took a LIHSA bus to the train station and then a train to Annecy.

Above, Saint-Gervais train station in the morning.

Above, Le Bon Nant.

Above, I walked next to the tracks of Tramway du Mont Blanc in the beginning, before reaching the forest.

Above, bridge above Le Bon Nant. The bus stop was there.

Above, Mont Joly seen from the bridge.

Above, waiting for the shuttle at Les Contamines-Montjoie.

Above, near the Télécabine de la Gorge, still in the valley.

Above, on the Télécabine du Signal.

Above, at Le Signal.

Above, Aiguille Croche.

Above, dirt road to Col du Joly.

Above, Mont Joly.

Above, ridge between Aiguille Croche and Mont Joly.

Above, at Col du Joly, looking towards Beaufort.

Above, lake for artificial snow.

Above, Mont de Vorès.

Above, Mont Blanc.

Above, Col du Joly.

Above, snow cannon.

Above, Lac de la Girotte.

Above, ridge to Mont Joly.

Above, antenna at the summit of Aiguille Croche.

Above, looking towards Megève and the Aravis.

Above, Pointe Percée.

Above, Désert de Platé.

Above, Mont Mirantin.

Above, Col des Aravis.

Above, Mont Charvin in the background.

Above, clouds have covered the Mont Blanc.

Above, looking back at Aiguille Croche.

Above, Tête du Véleray.

Above, Aravis.

Above, Tête de la Combaz.

Above, Mont Joly.

Above, summit of Mont Joly.

Above, panorama to the north.

Above, on the way down.

Above, Mont Géroux.

Above, Saint-Gervais.

Aboe, Mont Joly.

Above, cross at Mont Joux.

Aboe, Aiguille Croche.

Above, Mont D’Arbois.

Above, on the Télécabine du Bettex.

Above, back in Saint-Gervais.

Above, on the train.

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Hike to Baraque des Rognes & Nid d’Aigle (Mont Blanc)

Last summer, I went on a hike near Chamonix to the Baraque Forestière des Rognes, a tiny emergency hut located between the much bigger Refuge de Tête Rousse, where most mountaineers stop on their way to the summit of Mont Blanc, and Nid d’Aigle, a hut at the terminus of Tramway du Mont Blanc. I followed this trail direction (except I started and ended at the Bellevue cable car station): Sentier des Rognes on the way up and a path along Glacier de Bionnassay on the way down.

Here is the path I walked (download KML):

In the morning, I went by train from Annecy to Les Houches, in the Chamonix Valley, switching at Saint-Gervais-les-Bains. My goal was to reach the Bellevue station to get a head start on the ascent. Usually, I could have boarded the Tramway du Mont Blanc at Saint-Gervais station but, at the time I went on this hike, the track was closed for repair. Instead, I used the Bellevue cable car, but it was a ~30min walk from Les Houches train station. Once at Bellevue, I started on the trail that goes around Mont Lachat on the north side until Col du Mont Lachat. Then I started on the Sentier des Rognes (Trail of Les Rognes): The trail was steep but regular, right until the final part before reaching Col des Rognes, which was pretty hard, but equipped with ladders and chains. I crossed path with many people, since the trail is a popular way to get to and from the summit of Mont Blanc, all the more so since the Tramway was closed. Once at Col des Rognes (2685m), I saw my first alpine ibex (bouquetin) of the day. I reached the Cabane des Rognes a few minutes later: There was a great view on the Désert de Pierre Ronde, the Dôme du Goûter and the Aiguille de Bionnassay from it. Soon after, I started on my way down towards Nid d’Aigle. There were many alpine ibexes despite the place being mostly stones. Once at the hut, I took a trail along the Glacier de Bionnassay for a while then went up again to reach the Bellevue cable car station, just in time for the last cable car.

Above, train in the morning at Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.

Above, Les Houches train station.

Above, Arve river.

Above, cable car station in Bellevue.

Above, church in Les Houches.

Above, cable car station.

Above, at Bellevue.

Above, Bellevue station on the Tramway du Mont Blanc.

Above, on the trail around Mont Lachat.

Above, Rochers des Fiz.

Above, Chamonix valley.

Above, Réserve Naturelle de Carlaveryon.

Above, Arête des Rognes, where the trail leads me.

Above, view from Col du Mont Lachat.

Above, on the Sentier des Rognes, looking back at Mont Lachat.

Above, Tramway track to Nid d’Aigle.

Above, Mont Vorassay.

Above, Massif des Aiguilles Rouges.

Above, mountaineers going down.

Above, Dôme du Goûter.

Above, entering the place known as “le Dérochoir”, the final part before reaching Col des Rognes.

Above, Aiguille Verte.

Above, chain on the path.

Above, almost at Col des Rognes.

Above, Aiguille du Midi.

Above, alpine ibex.

Above, Cabane des Rognes from the Col.

Above, Dôme du Goûter.

Above, Aiguille de Bionnassay.

Above, path to Refuge de Tête Rousse.

Above, Désert de Pierre Ronde.

Above, on the way down.

Above, Refuge du Goûter.

Above, Nid d’Aigle in view.

Above, Glacier de Bionnassay.

Above, Nid d’Aigle from below.

Above, lake formed by water from the Glacier.

Above, back at Bellevue cable car station.

Above, Rochers des Fiz.

Above, Dôme du Goûter seen from Les Houches.

Above, waiting for the train back to Annecy.

Hike from Plan de la Lai to Col des Fours & Ville des Glaciers

The hike from Plan de la Lai to Ville des Glaciers was one of the best hikes I did this summer. It starts at the Refuge du Plan de la Lai, between Beaufort and Bourg Saint-Maurice, in the Beaufortain. It then goes through the Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme, a usual stop on the Tour du Beaufourtain, then continues to Col des Fours, before finally going down to the Vallée des Glaciers. I basically followed this itinerary (with map), with a detour to Rocher du Vent and the Roches Merles at the beginning and through the Têtes Nord and Sud des Fours near Col des Fours.

Here is the path I walked (download KML):

Getting to the start of the trail was a bit involved: I took the first LIHSA bus from Annecy to Albertville, then boarded a summer shuttle to Beaufort-sur-Doron, then switched again to another one which followed the Route des Grandes Alpes and got me to the Refuge du Plan de la Lai. From there, the trail was pretty straightforward. However, instead of going directly to the Crête des Gittes at the back of the Plan de la Lai, I made a detour to the Rocher du Vent: There was a great view of the Lac de Roselend and Lac de la Gittaz from there. I then followed the ridge until the Roches Merles, before going down to Col de la Sauce. I was keeping an eye out for the marmots which are numerous in the area but I didn’t see any there, just many of their holes in the ground. After Col de la Sauce, I took the ridge trail on Crête des Gittes to get to the Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme: The Mont Blanc was visible along the way. I then continued walking until Col des Fours. From there, I made a first detour to the Tête Nord des Fours (North Head), the highest peak of the day. Then I went up on the other side of the pass to the Tête Sud (South Head). I thought I could go down to the Lac de Mya from there but I could not find a trail. Instead, I went back to Col des Fours and started down from there and made a detour through the Lac de Mya, before finally making the descent to the valley. Along the way, I saw a herd of ibexes and a few marmots (mostly a furry blur though). At Ville des Glaciers, I took the last shuttle to Les Chapieux, a bit further below in the valley towards Bourg Saint-Maurice. I had to switch to another shuttle to reach Bourg Saint-Maurice. I walked around the village for a bit before taking the train, first to Chambéry then, finally, to Annecy.

Above,in Albertville, waiting for the shuttle to Beaufort.

Above, Beaufort-sur-Doron.

Above, Lac de Roselend.

Above, at the Refuge de Plan de la Lai.

Above, Rocher du Vent (Rock of the Wind).

Above, Plan de la Lai.

Above, at the Rocher du Vent.

Above, Lac de la Gittaz.

Above, view from the plateau on top of the Rocher.

Above, Lac de Roselend.

Above, looking towards Beaufort.

Above, Via Ferrata climbers.

Above, on the way to the Roches Merles.

Above, Mont Blanc.

Above, Crête des Gittes.

Above, Aiguille de la Pennaz.

Above, at the Roches Merles.

Above, Col de la Sauce.

Above, marmot hole.

Above, Tarentaise cow.

Above, cows at Col de la Sauce.

Above, Roches Merles and Rocher du Vent.

Above, Plan de la Lai.

Above, on the Crête des Gittes.

Above, looking towards Les Chapieux.

Above, view from the summit of Crête des Gittes.

Above, Mont Blanc.

Above, Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme.

Above, Les Chapieux.

Above, on the way to Col des Fours.

Above, Aiguille des Glaciers.

Above, at Col des Fours.

Above, Tête Sud des Fours.

Above, Tête Nord des Fours.

Above, view from Tête Nord des Fours.

Above, Lac de Mya.

Above, Tête Sud des Fours.

Above, Col des Fours.

Above, an alpine ibex.

Above, Tête Nord des Fours.

Above, Lac de Mya.

Above, marmot.

Above, Ville des Glaciers.

Above, Vallée des Glaciers.

Above, Aiguille des Glaciers.

Above, at Les Chapieux.

Above, Les Arcs above Bourg Saint-Maurice.

Above, Bourg Saint-Maurice railway station.

Montenvers Mer de Glace

After getting back to the valley from my hike to La Jonction, it was still relatively early so I took the bus to the village of Chamonix and tried to go the Aiguille du Midi, using the ropeway. Unfortunately, it was full for the rest of the day. So instead, I took the train to Montenvers to have a look at the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), France’s largest glacier (7km long, 200 m thick). The Ice Cave had already closed when I got there however.

Above, the Réserve Naturelle des Aiguilles Rouges on the other side.

Above, train track.

Above, Aiguille du Dru.

Above, the gondola to go to the Ice Cave.

Above, instead of taking the gondola, I took the trail down to the Ice Cave to have a look at the Glacier from up close. There are markers on this trail showing how high the Mer de Glace used to be (almost at the level of the train station when it was built).

Above, the path to the Ice Cave, closed when I got there.

Above, the train station in Chamonix (right next to the standard train station).

Above, view of the Mont Blanc from the valley.

Hike to La Jonction des Glaciers (Mont Blanc)

La Jonction (The Junction) is a rocky area below the Mont Blanc where the Glacier des Bossons and the Glacier de Taconnaz meet. The first successful ascent of the Mont Blanc by Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard in 1786 was made through there: The hiking trail goes past the rock formation (known as Gîte à Balmat) where the 2 men stayed at some point during that ascent. I followed this itinerary.

I boarded the first morning train from Annecy and got off at Les Bossons train station in the valley of Chamonix. I then took the lift to the Chalet du Glacier des Bossons. After a detour through the viewpoint nearby (however, the Glacier is much higher than it used to be so the view was not that great), I started on the trail through the forest. Some time later, I reached the Chalet des Pyramides. From there, the view from the trail alternated between the Glacier de Taconnaz, with the Mont Blanc on top, and the Glacier des Bossons, dominated by the Aiguille du Midi. Finally, I reached the rocks of La Jonction. When I got there, I was the only one for a bit but, during the time it took to eat my sandwich, it got really crowded. There was a great view on the Mont Blanc and the two glaciers from there. I then went down using the same path.

Above, Bosson train station.

Above, Aiguille du Midi.

Above, summit of the Mont Blanc.

Above, Glacier des Bossons.

Above, on the lift to Chalet du Glacier des Bossons.

Above, the valley of Chamonix.

Above, Glacier des Bossons.

Above, the chalet.

Above, the Aiguilles Rouges on the other side of the valley.

Above, Glacier de Taconnaz.

Above, Chalet des Pyramides.

Above, Pointe Percée in the Aravis.

Above, Gîte à Balmat.

Above, at La Jonction.

Above, summit of the Mont Blanc.

Above, Aiguille du Midi.

Above, Refuge des Grands Mulets.

Above, on the way down.

Above, Arve river.

Above, the tip of the Glacier des Bossons.

Above, on the lift to the valley.