Day 10 Thursday 25 August Cabane de Moiry to Zinal

The Cabane was extended a few years ago. The dining area is in the new part and has floor to ceiling windows so, like dinner last night, breakfast was eaten with the icefall in full view. I was soon heading off over the boulders steeply downhill. My knee was quite painful at the end of this. Worryingly it seemed to come from the joint, not the surrounding muscles like a strain.

At the foot of the moraine the path branched and I took the upper branch that contoured across the hillside, keeping well above the valley and the lac du Moiry.

Heading down the boulder field from the Cabane du Moiry

The path continued to undulate along the valley. For the first time, there were field boundaries, although these seemed rather flimsy. There were turnstiles for walkers between the fields.

The lac du Moiry is a reservoir. I think the dam is an example of a non-gravity dam. The dam is 148m high and its arched shape means that some of the force of the water is taken by the shape of the wall rather than just by its integral strength. However, I am not a hydraulic engineer so correct me if I am wrong. Once past the dam I took the path that climbed steadily and easily to the Col de Sorebois. There were good views back to the dam and lake

Barrage de Moiry
Looking up the Val du Moiry from the path up to Col de Sorebois

It was really nice to walk across pastures after the stony wilderness of the last few days. I was soon at the top of the col. Ahead of me was the Weisshorn and an impressive ridge of mountains that separates the Val d’Anniviers from the Materall.

Looking east from the Col de Sorebois

This barrier extends beyond Zermatt as far as a high glacier and the Matterhorn. I will have to turn north, away from Zermatt, to find a pass through the mountains. For now, my task was to descend to Zinal. There was a fairly easy descent to a plateau about 1000m above the valley.

I was now in the Van d’Anniviers ski area. The lifts and runs of the Zinal sector were displayed before me. The pistes did not spoil the landscape but the lift pylons are an eyesore. It would be hypocritical of me to complain as I enjoy skiing. I used to be critical of the railway up Snowdon until I saw a disabled person get off the train. This enabled him to see what it was like to be on the top of a mountain, which he would otherwise have been denied. I guess it is a compromise that all people should have some access to high places, there are enough that are kept wild for trekkers and climbers. And we compromise the environment by eroding paths and travelling there anyway.

Today I was pleased to be in a ski area. I walked to the top of the gondola. Below this, the path descends extremely steeply through woodland and is described as “knee crunching” in the Cicerone guide. When I had my Icicle briefing it was suggested I rode down the mountain to protect my knee. After my experience of this morning I decided that it was more important to get to Zermatt rather than “walk every inch of the way” and took the gondola. 12.5€ well spent. When I saw Felix at the Europahut he said the walk down was awful with no views to benefit the experience.

I arrived early in Zinal, a pleasant village, and found the hotel Trift where I was staying.

I dumped my rucksack and set off to buy some food for tomorrow’s lunch. “Hi Ray,” a voice called out, it was a Jamie, his walking companions and his wife, who was following them through the valleys. A pleasant afternoon was spent drinking wine and beer in excellent company. Much better than struggling down steep paths through forest.

Le Trift was nice too. my own room (luxury). The Demi-pension menu was nice with myrtle tart and blackcurrant ice cream for pudding. Delicious!

Day 6 Sunday 21st August Cabane du Montfort to Cabane de Prafleurie

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

Mont Gele with the Montfort hut on the hillock in the midground

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.

Looking east from 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.


looks like LEJOG part 2 is off this year. In theory I could camp and cook my own food en route I don’t know whether campsites will be open, and communal washing and toilet facilities are hardly self isolating. Wild camping is theoretically possible but is illegal in England, difficult in central Scotland but I will explore this. If I do this there will not be a blog as I won’t have internet access or charging facilities for my electronics.

Favoured option at present is to stock the car up (or use the trains) and bag some Munro’s as well has some of the lower but still beautiful Scottish hills. Or the Cape Wrath trail or Knoydart (avoiding the village at the tip of the peninsula) which is self isolating in the extreme!

Stay safe everyone and the blog will continue in 2021