I had virtually no internet or Wi-Fi for the second half of the Haute Route. I had been making paper notes as I went along and I ran out of paper. I forgot I had Word on my I-pad so the rest of the blog is written from memory and from photograph reminders. Silly me! It would have been much easier to cut and paste.
Gite l’Ecureuil (The Squirrel Gite) was a lovely old wooden chalet. I was in the top room which had really squeaky floorboards. There was a French family in the room below and, even though I tried to creep about, I must have disturbed then when I got dressed at a rather late (for me) 7:30.
After a quick petit dejeuner I bought some pumpernickel and cheese for the next 2 day’s lunch and set off on a track by the Gite up the hill. I entered woodland and continued to climb up to a small group of chalets at Mayens de Matou. Here I was able to replenish my water bottles from the ubiquitous spout and trough.
Above the forest there were good views north to the Rhone valley and the hills beyond
The path now climbed steadily but without difficulty up the grassy slope to Le Tsate
Above Le Tsate the path continued to climb. After another 30 minutes I arrived at a plateau where there were a few cowsheds, the Remoinste du Tsate. The farmer had rounded up his cows and most of them were in the sheds. A dog was herding the rest but he ignored me and I joined a path that crossed the level area and continued uphill. There was a good view back to a tarn and the mountain on the other side of the valley.
I crossed another level area and then climbed again to a stony plateau with the col du Tsate above me
There was a good path up to the Col. None of this climb was particularly steep. The top of the col was narrow. I shared the space with a couple of Americans and ate my lunch. From the top I could see my next target, the lac du Glacier far below me
The way down was much steeper than the descent, however there wa# a good, stony path. I soon arrived at a grassy plateau. Here I traversed across several springs that coalesced below me to form a river. After a short uphill stretch I continued the descent over grassy ground to reach the Lac du Glacier. As I approached the valley The paths became busy with day walkers. There is a car park at the lake and they are several marked circular walks. Some people drive up and walk to the Cabane du Moiry which is a mountain restaurant by day. I now had my first view of the impressive Moiry icefall. The Cabane can just be seen on a rocky outcrop to the left of the ice.
The way up to the hut was to climb up to the lateral moraine on the left of the picture. I then walked along the top of the rocks for a short distance before a short descent into the depression on the far side of the moraine. The path then climbed very steeply over rocky ground, a couple of exposed areas protected by a rope. I was now tired and the going got rougher, climbing across a large boulder field. I could see down to the heavily crevassed glacier
Finally I reached the hut. The icefall was truly awesome
The image does not do it justice. I found little information about it but, according to the map, it is about 500 metres across and at least 200 metres high. Above it are more glaciers and snow capped peaks culminating in the Pigne de la Lex. To the south-west, I was treated to a magnificent sunset
Felix and Flora had already arrived, they passed me on the way up to the cowsheds. The Maltese man was nowhere to be seen, we think he crossed a different pass to the south and was wild camping. We did not see him again on the walk, His route would take an extra day to reach Zinal, my next stop. I had a drink with three Americans, from Virginia I think, admiring the view. The only name I can remember is Jamie.
The Cabane du Moiry was crowded as it is a popular destination to see the glacier and mountaineers use it as a base to access the climbing routes. It is also on the Tour du Monta Rosa as well as the Haute Route. I shared a small dormitory with a French family. I had the top bunk and this was arguably the most dangerous part of the walk; the ladder was offset from my bunk. I has to traverse under a low beam at the end of the bunk and, coming down, I had to avoid treading on a small French child. Happily there were no accidents and, after a good night’s sleep I was ready to continue on my way.