A hugely varied day, it’s amazing how much adjacent valleys in the Alps can differ. I started the day crossing a rocky glacier, then explored a lush green valley, before finishing up close to an awe inspiring glacier ice face.
From Cabane des Dix I crossed the Glacier de Cheilon as the sun rose on the huge face of Mont Blanc de Cheilon. It was an erie experience, surrounded by a landscape of rock and ice, and thankfully safe by staying close to the marked track.
I had to be careful underfoot though as the crunchy snow of yesterday had turned to solid icy snow, which created some interesting patterns.
I had to be particularly careful climbing up to the Pas de Chevres, with the track crossing a boulder field before a steep scree switchback, and one section requiring use of a chain.
This seemed relatively straightforward though compared with the three near vertical ladders bolted to the rock face. Although safer than a track, climbing up them carrying a pack and poles was fairly scary. I was relieved to be on firm ground again at the top.
Below on the other side was an increasingly greener landscape, and thankfully after the initial section a much easier track to descend hundreds of metres down to Arolla, with another glacier to my right.
After being in fairly barren landscapes for a couple of days it was a welcome novelty to be walking through sun drenched woods, though they were just as steep in places.
The greater than expected effort was rewarded by making it to the aptly named and somewhat surreal Lac Bleu.
The nearby village of La Gouille was rather nice though the green lake next to it was less appealing.
Beyond which was a simple church, the only one I passed on the Haute Route that was locked.
Les Hauderes was one of the most beautiful villages I saw on the Haute Route.
I found a rather laid back crepe place for lunch. I was expecting pancakes and was hungry so tried to order two grande cheese and ham ones. Thankfully the waitress persuaded me to just have one. When four thick slices of bread topped with a thick layer of cheese arrived I understood why!
After eating that it was a bit of a struggle to get up the hill to La Sage, home to a rather nice church with live music.
Here I met a couple who had just started the Haute Route but failed to buy a guidebook or detailed map, and therefore were lost in the second village… We walked together until we were safely on the right track, and later at the cabane I gave them directions for the rest of their trip. They were good company, and helpful the following morning, to be covered in the next post.
It was a 1,200m climb to Col du Tsate, quite tiring though the views behind were stunning.
Part way up at Remointse du Tsate were some particularly attractive farm buildings.
The climb to the Col du Tsate became increasingly steep, and then dropped down 400m to the Parking du Glacier, by a lovely blue glacial lake fed by Glacier de Moiry.
It was 5pm by then, after walking more or less non-stop (other than for lunch) since 6.30am. The downside of walking two stages in a day is super long, exhausting / challenging days… The hardest part was still to come though with an increasingly steep 400m ascent to the Cabane de Moiry at 2,825m. The combination of altitude and fatigue made me frequently short of breadth, and at times it seemed like it was going to rain. Thankfully it never did, and didn’t in fact rain on for me for the whole trip, again quite different to hiking in New Zealand…
It was a relief to finally get to Cabane de Moiry by 6.20pm, just before dinner was served. The cabane is in a quite incredible position, right by the massive face of the hugely impressive Glacier de Moiry.