Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Thursday, 14 January 2021

The Walker's Haute Route (7)

Meadow above Bendola. Click on any image for a better view and access to slideshow

Monday 11 July - Grimentz to Geneva 

Gaynor and I shared a twin room and were woken by loud bells at 6 am. Slept on until the usual stomach cramps rushed me to the loo (only one more day and they were gone). It was sunny outside but quickly clouding over. I said my goodbyes to the others who were having a lazy day back to Geneva, went to the shop for provisions, missed the 8:15 cablecar (by a lot), and idled the time away until the next car at 9:15. 

This got a diary entry (for last Tuesday) done, and got  me up from Grimentz at 1440 metres to Bendola at 2112 metres, from where I headed off on a well marked path (on the ground if not on my placemat map) signed to Roc d'Orzival - 2 hrs 10 mins.

The path wound pleasantly up through ski pistes. I kept passing and re-passing an elderly Swiss gent on this pleasantly warm day. After an hour I reached a lovely spot by a lakelet at 2475 metres - ideal for a high camp. There was a snow patch at 2525 metres, and shorts and t-shirt were still in order despite swirling cloud. The place was lush with pansies and gentians, forget-me-nots, daisies (ox-eye), kidney vetches, asters, black vanilla orchids, bellflowers, etc. A yellow carpet of flowers with blue, purple, and other colours neatly woven in.

By 11:25, after less than two hours, I was at an orientation point at about 2800 metres below Roc d'Orzival. I spent time here with the Swiss man. There were pointers in all directions, from the nearby Breithorn and other 4000ers, to Mont Blanc in the distance.

We watched a fellow 'hiker' unload his rucksack, neatly arrange the contents, don a windproof suit, and then jump off. I got a video clip of the start of his 2300 metre descent to the Rhone valley far below.

The Swiss man and I scrambled up to the Roc, or a nearby summit which I took to be the Roc - though that may have been a less accessible point further east. 

Then the route I had spotted at the Tourist Information place - it was signposted - 2 hrs 30 mins to Crete du Midi. I set off at 12:00 after texting Sue Emmett to brag about what they were missing. (Sue B also got texts every night, unfortunately details not retained.)

It was calm and warm, saxifrages were abundant, and the walk along the airy crest, past occasional pinnacles, was delightful. Sheep bells tinkled in the distance, otherwise I was completely alone.

Round-leaved Saxifrage

I halted from 1 pm to 1:25 pm on a broad plateau at 2575 metres in sun and swirling cloud, for my final mountain brew stop of this cameo trip. Snow finches fluttered on rocks nearby. 

There was a peak with a post on it nearby ahead (see above), and clear views down to the Rhone valley, with helicopters buzzing in the distance. A warning triangle painted on a rock signaled trouble ahead?! It was an aided section, with new chains fastened to the rocks - not necessary in these benign conditions, but perhaps there have been accidents here. A few people were seen here, and this short aided section led past the peak with the post through an optional hole in a rock on the crest of the ridge, to a col at La Brinta - 2610 metres, with Crete du Midi signed as 45 minutes away.

Looking back along the ridge

I continued a few metres before descending steeply NNW on a marked path towards the ugly scar of the cablecar station. There were people with downhill scooters - trotinettes - here, having ascended the cablecar to Crete du Midi at 2331 metres, they would be freewheeling down to the village of Vercorin at 1325 metres - helmets and brakes compulsory. We also saw these at Zermatt - looks like great fun - Sue and I must try it next month. (We didn't - it remains a treat in store!) 

On the way down my attempt at a photo of a Trumpet Gentian failed due to lack of camera battery power - the battery had just lasted long enough! (Perhaps that's why there are relatively few photos from this trip - I had no spare battery or charger for the S70, and it was before the days of camera phones, so I was conserving the battery.)

I reached the cablecar at 2:25 pm after the 6 km stroll, and got straight onto the continuous system of small cars. Reached Vercorin, 1325 metres, at 2:45 pm. Passed over a herd of bulls with loud bells. No charge for this trip, but SF5.80 for the next stage down to Chalais at 500 metres, during which I chatted to a gent who gave me a lift to Sierre station in his BMW, saving me up to an hour. 

And so, I got a SF51 ticket to Geneva and hopped on the 15:26 train, only an hour after reaching Crete du Midi. 

It was an enjoyable, scenic journey for two hours, then I managed to walk to the Stars Hotel (Motel) over the French border. I rested up here before strolling out for a meal at the Buffalo Grill nearby. 

Next morning I strolled back to the airport. EasyJet Airbus purported to be late but ran on time, back to roasting hot Liverpool for 11:30 and a pick up by Mike to return home in the heatwave. 

An excellent short trip. 

Flora and Fauna: 

House Martin
Pied Wagtail
Snow finches

Alpine Aster
Alpine Bartsia
Alpine Birdsfoot Trefoil
Alpine Bistort
Alpine Clematis
Alpine Lovage
Alpine Pasque Flower
Alpine Toadflax
Beaked Lousewort
Bearded Bellflower
Birdseye Primrose
Black Knapweed
Black Rampion
Black Vanilla Orchid
Bladder Campion
Common Butterwort
Common Chickweed
Common Columbine
Common Cow Wheat
Common Dog Violet
Common Eyebright
Common Houseleek
Common Kidney Vetch
Common Mouse Ear
Common Rockrose
Common Stinging Nettle
Common Storksbill
Common Valerian
Corn Mignonette
Cotton Grass
Creeping Lady's Tresses
Cypres Spurge
Dark Mullein
Dwarf Alpenrose
Early Marsh Orchid
Early Purple Orchid
Field Forgetmenot
Fragrant Orchid
Germander Speedwell
Glacier Crowfoot
Golden Cinquefoil
Greater Stitchwort
Herb Robert
Hop Trefoil
King of the Alps
Large flowered Leopardsbane
Marsh Marigold
Martagon Lily
Meadow Cranesbill
Moss Campion
Mountain Avens
Mountain Cornflower
Mountain Houseleek
Mountain Milkwort
Mountain Pansy
Mountain Sheepsbit
Mountain Willowherb
Nottingham Catchfly
Oxeye Daisy
Purple Vetch
Red Campion
Rosebay Willowherb
Round headed Rampion
Round leaved Saxifrage
Rue leaved Isopyrum
Small White Orchid
Snowdon Lily
Spring Gentian
Tofield's Asphodel
Treacle Mustard
Traveller's Joy
Trumpet Gentian
Viper's Bugloss
White False Helleborine
Wild Strawberry
Wild Thyme
Wood Anemone
Wood Forgetmenot
Wood Stitchwort
Wood Sorrel
Yellow Bellflower
Yellow Rattle
Yellow Wood Violet
and many more... 

Cost of trip:



Air fares


Geneva Hotel


Zermatt Hotel


Train fares


Hutting trip (5 nights)




[To be continued]

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