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.
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
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:
Alpine Birdsfoot Trefoil
Alpine Pasque Flower
Black Vanilla Orchid
Common Cow Wheat
Common Dog Violet
Common Kidney Vetch
Common Mouse Ear
Common Stinging Nettle
Creeping Lady's Tresses
Early Marsh Orchid
Early Purple Orchid
King of the Alps
Large flowered Leopardsbane
Round headed Rampion
Round leaved Saxifrage
Rue leaved Isopyrum
Small White Orchid
White False Helleborine
Yellow Wood Violet
and many more...
Cost of trip:
[To be continued]
trip (5 nights)