Myself and Claire have just returned for 2 weeks in the Rhone Valley. Here is a brief summery and photos of what we got up to.
After a few days of rain at the start, the clouds lifted to fresh snow down to 1600m. So we set out for a low-level walk by the Grand Muveran in the Nants valley surrounded by Dent de Morcles and Dent Favre. We entered into the snow line and crossed a pass at 2111m with great views to Les Diablents.
After a few lower levels walks around our base of Torgon we made the drive down the Rhone Valley to see the Grosser Aletschgletscher (big glacier), a national park as well. We walked up through pine trees to emerge onto the ridge above the glacier that leads up to the Eiggishorn with great views to the glacier and surrounding peaks. With views also of the Matterhorn, Mt Blanc and the Grand Combin.
Tour du Midi run
Claire wanted a day off and I just happened to glance at a flyer about the Tour de Midi around the Dents de Midi, usually a 2/3 day walk but at 42km I thought I would have a go at running it. (With only a day pass what else was I supposed to do). So at 9am I set off from Mex at 1128m jogging round to eventually make the first big climb of 1000m up to Dent de Valerette at 2039m on the north east side. I thought it would be quicker going up and over the peak rather than round, but not sure. Then came the brilliant views of the north side of the Dents du Midi ridge and glaciers. I made my way round the high valleys staying at about 1900m before dropping again to 1500m. Just the last final climb up to the high point and pass of Col de Susanfe at 2500m where people attempt the summit. It is fair to say that at this point I hit the wall at about 5.5 hours and 30km. Once at the col all that remained was a decent down to 2000m round the lac de Salanfe, up 200m to the final pass then down a insanely steep track to 1100 to Mex, where my thighs were screaming all the way. In total about 2500m of ascent and descent and 8.5 hours, all in shorts, top and sunglasses.
St Bernard pass bivi
With a day and a half rest from the run we were walking up to bivi above the St Bernard pass at 2600m over the col des Chenaux at 2714m. We had great views to the Grand Combin for the sunset but no stove.
To make it a proper alpine bivi for Claire’s first we didn’t take a stove, not through choice (mostly). The short version is after flying, where you can’t take gas on the plane we went to the town of Martigny to ‘find gas’. We found an outdoor shop but it was closed until 2pm. So we waited, arrived at 2pm and then Claire realised that the sign said ‘closed Monday’. Oh, so we had a choice, either postpone the bivi or eat cold. Fast forward 5 hours and I was tucking into my tin of Spaghetti Bolognese and Claire a pasta vinaigrette pot with tuna!
After a cold night where my sleeping bag stuck to my bivi bag through frost, we walked down to the pass and got a continental breakfast at the café. After looking round the hospice, patted some big dogs, we started our way up to Point de Drone at 2950m over the rocky ridge with helpful chains and bolts along the way, with great views to the Mt Blanc massif.
Finally on the last day I went for a walk by the Petit Combin and down to the Glacier de Corbassiere which is very impressive and leads up to the Grand Combin.