This was a long day. Although it was only 17km long there were three cols to cross with a total ascent of 1100m and descent of 940m. I was down for breakfast at 6. Early starts are normal in huts, particularly if they are close to climbing regions as the climbers usually start before dawn in order to avoid avalanches as the snow warms up. I was rewarded by a view of the Combin massif and Mont Blanc with the morning sun shining on the snow, everything popping up above a sea of cloud in the valley.
There are three routes available to reach the col de Louvie. The most popular, because of spectacular views is the one that follows the Sentier des Chamois to cross Col Termin. This runs roughly south from the hut and gently rising through a mixture of grass and stony ground. It keeps the Combin mountains in view.
The path was shut this spring because of rockfall and has been redesignated an “alpine route.” I didn’t see any Chamois but there were a herd of cattle in the pasture below me, the calves were locking horns and play fighting.
Soon there was a cacophony of cow bells and mooing. A herd of brown cattle were coming up the valley. I couldn’t see whether they were moving if their own free will or being driven.
“Awesome” is a word overused by the young. I will probably overuse it in this blog. For instance the views from the Sentier des Chamois were indeed awesome. As well as Mont Combin which was present whenever I looked up, there was a good prospect back the way I had come to Mont Gele
The cloud inversion dissipated so the valley could be seen
The Sentier has been designated an Alpine route because in places the path was narrow and there was some exposure. It was actually no worse than walking some cliff top paths in the UK. As I got closer to Col Termin the Grand Combin and the glacier de Corbassiere dominated the view south.
I could hear the whistles of marmots and some ibex crossed the path and headed uphill. Eventually I arrived al Col Termin, at the same time a# the couple I met in the hut last night.
The path turned north to drop down off the col and then ascend high above the Louvie valley with the lac du Louvie and a Cabane several hundred metres below.
Ahead was my next target, the rocky Col de Louvie
For most of the way the going as fairly easy on a grassy path as you can see above. As I approached the col the path became steep and I had to cross a boulder field. My progress was slow. An ibex stood above the path and watched me struggle. Eventually the boulders were replaced by scree and my pace picked up. I reached the col and ahead of me was the aptly named Grand Desert
I descended down to the rocky floor of the plateau. In mist navigation would have been challenging but today it was easy to see the red and white markers and pick my way across the debris left at the end of of the last ice age.
I climbed up to the top of the false col seen in the above picture. From the top I could see another glacial lake. Two walkers had set up a camp by the lake and had decided to go for a wild swim. They didn’t stay in the water long – about 30 seconds; it must have been freezing.
There was now another descent across boulders. I crossed the plateau and there was then an easy climb up to the Col de Plafleuri.
From here there was a steep rocky descent. This took me to a rocky plateau from where the path became grassy and less steep. There were old cables alongside the path. These were used to source stone from the mountain which was used in construction of the Lac de Dix dam. Eventually the Cabane du Plafleuri came into sight
By the time I arrived everyone was eating. The guardian soon had me fed. Despite the track access (the area used to have huts for the quarry workers) the hut was quite basic. As far as I know there was no hot water but I was too tired to care. I ate my food and was soon asleep.