French Odyssey Part 12 – Ridges & Frontiers   2 comments

After our fabulous walk the previous day we were hungry for more. My Cicerone guide had a walk above La Tour around the Col  de Balme that took in 3 small summits and I could use the uplift to gain the height. Plan formulated we set off on another clear sunny day with just a few wisps of cloud and a strong breeze. This time the trip on the upper chairlift was slightly chillier but the kids still enjoyed it.


Chairlift with Aiguilles Rouges behind


Time to get off

Once up at the top the views were again stunning and we could clearly see our route for the day, up to the craggy Croix de Fer and back over the Tete de Balme and a smaller un-named grassy hill.


D, Tete de Balme and Cros de Fer

There were only a few people about, some walkers, a few climbers on their way to higher routes and mountain-bikers using the lifts to access the steep downhill routes now a major alpine activity.


Aiguilles Rouges and Mont Buet

We walked across to the Col de Balme where the route enters Switzerland.


Aiguille Verte and Mont Blanc

The kids found the idea of standing with both feet in two different countries highly amusing but I suppose the idea of walking from one country to another was a novel one for them


Straddling the border

We continued on a steady climb up to the col between the Croix de Fer and the Tete de Balme, all the while the views back along the Chamonix valley to Mont Blanc and across to the Aiguille Rouge and Mont Buet (another one of my successful summits) were stupendous.


Climbing to the col

As we reached the col we also got a view of the Lac de Emosson and its huge dam. Not an area I’ve visited but it looks superb and my guidebook had lots of walking routes in there.


Lac de Emosson

We set off along the narrow grassy ridge towards the Croix de Fer, pleased that we were the only people about.


D on the ridge to the Croix de Fer

Pretty soon it was clear that L was a little nervous so she and Jane returned to the col while D and I carried on to the summit. It’s quite narrow and rocky in places but so long as you have a decent head for heights very straightforward (although in wet weather or snow it would be a different proposition.


Route of ascent

D was well chuffed that he had climbed an alpine peak albeit a small one but the views all around and over into the Rhone valley in Switzerland were breathtaking. Alas I had a grubby fingerprint on the camera lens so the photos are not as good as I’d like – one of the downfalls of my Panasonic FT3 and its lack of a lens cover


D enjoys his first alpine summit

Satisfied we rejoined Jane and L and walked over the easy grassy slopes of the Tete de Balme and it’s un-named neighbour.


Croix de Fer


Summit of Tete de Balme

The views back across to Mont Blanc from here were particularly grand.


Mont Blanc and the Chamonix valley

We were on the look-out for a decent picnic stop but the wind had picked up through the day and it was pretty cold. We spied a small tarn below us and headed down, managing to find a sheltered spot. Had it been warmer I’d have been tempted for a swim as the water looked clear and inviting.


Picnic time


Fancy a swim?

Time to head back though and we retraced our steps and back around to the Col de Balme and the chairlift down, still marvelling at the views and for me as always very reluctant to head down.


Jane and L, Aiguille Rouge behind

It was incredibly windy on the chairlift and we were glad to reach the warm shelter of the gondola on the lower stage.


Hold on tight!

Our time in Chamonix was over. We had an absolutely stunning couple of days but I felt flat as we got back into the car. I wanted more. I could have walked for days in this area and the possibilities are endless. I’ll be back, but we still had one final day to enjoy and we headed off for the Jura mountains for the last proper day of our holiday


2 responses to “French Odyssey Part 12 – Ridges & Frontiers

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  1. I love the Alps and really *must* go back. In fact I now have a hillwalking ‘net friend who lives near Chamonix, and he has been asking us for a few years to go visit. We spent a few holiday in the Swiss Alps when our sons were younger and loved the opportunity to ‘get high’ easily using uplifts (cable cars, chairlifts and funicular railways.). It’s such a civilised way of ‘climbing’!


    • Hi Sheila

      When I was younger the idea of using a chairlift was unthinkable. Much “harder” to walk up 3000 feet of relentless zig-zags through the the trees – and back down. Much better this way. Both me and Jane (and D for that matter) are just desperate to get back to the Alps for a proper holiday, Those 2 days and the day in the Jura reminded just how much I love walking and climbing in the Alps and the surrounding mountains, especially on clear blue days like these

      Thanks for all the comments on my French trip reports 🙂


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