Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Wednesday 10 August 2011 - The Haute Route - Day 3 - Champex to Cabane de Chanrion via Mauvoisin

Approx 9 km, 600 metres ascent, 4 hours.

It was a leisurely start this morning from the pleasant Swiss village with its pretty lake that I walked around last night.

Having crossed from France to Switzerland at yesterday's high point, the rest of the trek will be 'Swiss', where the Euro currently has parity with the Swiss Franc. Not long ago you could get two SF to a Euro, so things are very expensive here. I don't think I'll be buying too many hot chocolates, Alan, and I think there may be some 'watery surprises' to come!

I've still got plenty of Mr Sainsbury's nuts and chocolate, so didn't need to join the rest of the team's raid on the local boulangerie before setting off this morning. Big breakfasts and filling dinners make a small snack more than sufficient for me at lunch time as the distances travelled are much shorter, with less ascent, than I'm used to.

If you come on this trip, bring a good book to read - you'll have lots of free time.

The taxi to Mauvoisin arrived at 9.30am, after I'd had a chance to catch up with Sue and her 'Caernarfon Adventure', and deposited us at the dam an hour later.

This is not (and was never intended to be) a 'purist' traverse of the Pennine Alps.

'Sastrugi' = the wind blown remnants of fresh snow that lies on a frozen surface. Winter visitors of the British mountains will be familiar with it. We crossed many bands of sastrugi on yesterday's glacier crossings. Here it can conceal crevasses, so needs to be crossed with care - it's best to zigzag across the hard ice of the glacier wherever practicable. We didn't have any incidents yesterday, but one of the other 'Haute Routers', a Swiss doctor, did apparently sink in up to her armpits!

So far as we are aware the Swiss couple and their guide are the only others whose itinerary coincides approximately with ours. Jagged Globe deliberately gives this trip a slow start so as to avoid a weekly bottleneck - there may be a large clutch of people a day ahead of us on a similar route.

After being disgorged from the taxi, we admired the views of Lac du Mauvoisin, before setting off at 10.45 along the fine mountain path to Cabane de Chanrion.

The weather is much better today, with bright sunshine and a pleasantly cool breeze. Shorts and t-shirt were soon deployed by me, but others retained two layers and long trousers to combat the breeze and sunburn.

We managed the 8-9 km stroll in around 4 hours, including the best part of an hour's break in a lovely meadow of field gentians, where we disturbed a flock of snow finches and enjoyed a spectacular view of the 4000 metre high ridge of the Grand Combin massif.

The Cabane was reached shortly after dipping down a steep aided path to cross the Brency Torrent. It was foaming with meltwater. Luckily there was a bridge.

After reaching the Cabane at 14.45, 'beer o'clock' was today brought forward to 15.00. I thought of 'Poor Alan' back in the UK, who would probably enjoy raising a glass to another successfully short day, but there is no phone signal here by which to stimulate the process. He may even have enjoyed watching marmots play in view of the cabane. (Thanks for your comments, Alan, I think you'd enjoy this trip!)

I won't describe the South African contingent's plans for dealing with a marmot, but the words 'slit stomach' and 'full of hot coals' were overheard.

As the afternoon progressed, the cabane, which probably houses over 100 visitors, gradually filled up with a wide assortment of folk, climbers, trekkers, families and even a couple of mountain bikers.

I wandered off through fields of edelweiss and high meadows strewn with lakelets and a plethora of other flowers, before returning for a good meal and a sociable evening in the vibrant cabane.

Today's image was taken just a few minutes walk away from the cabane.

Enjoy a beer, Alan, when you spot this. Maybe even two, as by the time we next get a signal it'll probably be tomorrow's 'beer o'clock'!

PS Price of one litre of water here is SF/€8. Tap water is 'non potable' (not drinkable); we are drinking it. A large beer is SF7.

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afootinthehills said...

There doesn't appear to be nearly enough hardship to make this trip enjoyable Martin!

Alan R said...

Splendid trip. I agree with the SA contingent, i have never had Marmot so it would have been good to try it.

We had a few beers last night £2 a pint. Had to go and escort Sheila through the massed brainless Herdwicks in Manchester city centre so it was a stress relieving i am told.

peewiglet said...

Doh... I've only just realised that this isn't the Haute Route I was thinking of.

What a beautiful place. The flowers sound wonderful. The drinks are horrendously expensive, though! I hope all goes well with the non-bottled water.