Here’s Martin’s diary record for Stage 4:
Wednesday 29 August 2007
After a showery night in a crowded dortoir - remarkably quiet though, despite 20-30 people in the dorm - we breakfast at leisure and wait for a shower to finish before setting off at 8.40.
Sue above Termignon
Soon ibex are spotted and an eagle soars overhead.
Above: A family of ibex
Below: A typical stream crossing
Richard and Jenny before the rain
It's lovely mountain scenery as we move away from the main valley. A heavy shower brings the waterproofs into serious action, and we soon pause at an Airmens' Memorial.
After this a brew stop is welcome and views are excellent as valley and higher clouds melt away.
At noon we leave the GR5 path and take a five day shortcut from Stage 4 to Stage 9 in Kev Reynolds' 1996 guidebook.
Spectacular glacial scenery, with clouds gradually lifting. Ptarmigan (summer plumage), dipper, wheatears, snow finches, all seen today. Plus Alpine Choughs outside the Vanoise refuge.
We enjoy lunch during this rocky traverse, before rain rejoins us for the rest of our day's walk.
Before our turn up the final valley to Col de la Vanoise, the valley below reveals a metalled road, tractor, fields, agriculture. Quite a surprise.
The map reveals a high road from Termignon - out of our view.
We head on up the route described on P79 of our edition of Kev's book, up a very pleasant valley despite the rain, arriving at 2.15 at Refuge du Col de la Vanoise. It has a warm room, if looking rather like a pre-fab block from the 1970's, and we are soon installed in a dormitory for twelve people. At least, again, we have the bottom bunks.
Hot chocolates and fine views, as the rain eases, herald a leisurely afternoon.
GR55 signs at Col Vanoise
Andrew discovers a rather fat marmot, who probably lives near the refuge and is very tame. Sue and Jenny then spot several (fat) marmots ambling outside. The weather becomes better, with good views all around. Dinner this evening is....
soup! V nice actually, with a tinge of curry flavour. Main course is chicken, creamed potatoes and bread, followed by very tasty cheese and then fruit salad. The wine flows as usual and Sue, Martin and Richard play Uno - Richard wins - then we are joined by Matthias, one of a party of German walkers. Andrew and Jenny read, write, and generally find excuses to avoid playing Uno.
[Stats: 8.45 to 2.15 = 5.5 hours including 1.10 stops = 4 hours 20 mins walking, 14.0 km with 570 metres ascent.]
(Anquet: 14 km, 902 m ascent)