An absolutely epic day, possibly the most spectacular I’ve ever walked, and certainly the most technically demanding. There were narrow tracks with sizeable drops offs, fields of boulders to navigate, steep loose scree paths, and plenty of snow to cross, ascend and descend. I also spent almost the whole day walking at between 2,500m and 3,000m above sea level, where the air is a little thinner. It was well worth it though for some unbelievable scenery, crossing five passes in a day treated me to six quite different valley landscapes.
It started from Cabane du Mont Fort, where the big views across the valley I saw the previous day had been mostly replaced by cloud. I headed up a steep and narrow track which took me to the 2,648m Col Termin, where the clouds briefly parted to tease me with mountain views opposite.
There was some vibrantly coloured lichen on the rocks.
I was overtaken by three locals, who between them were only carrying a pair of binoculars. No idea where they were going…
Below, visible to varying degrees, was Lac du Louvie.
I had my first sighting of ibex, mountain goats with impressive horns.
At the end of the valley there was a lot of snow to climb up to reach the 2,921m Col de Louvie. This is when the day got really spectacular and different to most other walking I’ve done. Below me was a snow filled valley, with a turquoise alpine lake in the distance. This was the start of the Grand Désert, an epic landscape, which contrasted with the green valleys in the distance.
With snow reaching above the ankles I carefully followed in the footsteps of those who had come before, making my way down to the lake.
Crossing the valley were more alpine lakes, smaller but all a little different. They were quite distracting but careful steps were required crossing the snow and rocks.
It was a little tricky getting up the 2,965m Col de Prafleuri but it rewarded with an incredible broken landscape of rock and snow.
Amazingly there is accommodation here, the Cabine de Prafleuri, but it had closed a few days prior due to a bed bug infestation! That meant that there were no opportunities to buy lunch so I had to rely on the extensive supply of muesli bars I had with me.
The penultimate pass to cross, the 2,804m Col des Roux, was the most surprising. After a steep and slippery but relatively short climb I was a little out of breath by the time I got to the top, and the rest of my breadth was taken by the stunning view of Lac des Dix below.
This epic lake is fed by the Glacier de Cheilon, which I would see close up later on. Unfortunately by this point it was 3pm, I’d been walking almost nonstop since 7am, and still had a long way to go. I made up time on the flat path by the lake, scooting past the Refuge des Ecoulaies and Refuge La Barma.
I got to the end of the road at Pas du Chat, with views of the mouth of the lake, before starting a near 600m climb, which nearly finished me off.
After walking for eight and half hours straight it took me another hour and a half to make my way up the steep hillside. The views of the moraine from the Glacier de Cheilon kept me motivated though, a quite surreal and stunning place.
In the middle of which, and right in front of the huge Mont Blanc de Cheilon, was my home for the night, Cabine des Dix.
A understandably popular spot, it was completely full on a Saturday night, with the noise and people being a little overwhelming after a day basically alone in the mountains. I had one of the shortest showers I’ve ever had, as it was outside and freezing cold! The food was wonderful and plentiful though, and soon after dinner I crashed out.