We had planned on doing 3 walks around the Alps and this was the first on our list. We would be travelling and living in the van for 7 days and Milly was coming with us!
Our goal was walking in the area of Mont Blanc so we bought a book called Mont Blank walks from Cicerone (£15). As the title says, it is 50 one day walks plus 4 multi day walks all very well explained and with references for maps and pictures. We chose route 11 to Mont Vorassay as the most suitable for us for time and location, although we had extra plans just in case we thought it wasn’t big enough walk.
When you use a book for the first time as a reference for walks, you really don’t know what the level of the person who has written the book is and it is wise not to overestimate it. After doing this walk, we can say that for us, the routes in the book (or at least the one we did) are not as hard as they look.
The route begins at the cable car car park at Les Houches, a town near the famous Chamonix. You can park for free there when using the cable car. You can avoid taking the cable car, but it adds a very steep section at the beginning and end of the walk with not too much to see. The price for the cable car is 14€ for a single or 17.50€ for a return, it opens at 8:00 to 17:30 and dogs are allowed at no extra cost. The times do change dependant on season.
From the top of the cable car continue straight towards the small train station, from there follow the signs to Col de Tricot. After crossing the track, there is a short steep descent to the main path on the side of the mountain where you turn left. The visibility was very poor due to low cloud, but on the way back we could enjoy the views of the very pretty Bionnassay valley.
The path carries on gently downhill till just before crossing the glacier torrent. Stick to the right hand path unless you want to climb to see the glacier. Here you hear the pleasant jingle of the big bells around the necks of a herd of cows.
A breathtaking suspension bridge crosses the river to start the long ascent to the Col de Tricot through its valley. The first section of around 30 min is relatively steep and another less steep section of around 90 min got us to the magnificent views of the Col de Tricot.
This route is part of one of the main routes for Mont Blanc, so you come across people with massive rucksacks heading to the white giant.
All the way up to Col de Tricot you walk through wild meadows completely covered in many different pretty flowers and during a big part of the ascent you can take in the bold views of Bionnassay glacier on the left. We didn’t have much luck as the low cloud only gave away the views on rare occasions but enough to fall in love with it and give us the temptation of climbing up hill to see it from a closer range.
Once on the Col de Tricot, our summit was on the right, and after a deserved rest specially for Daisy with her new boots, some food and some pictures of the stunning views of the valley on the other side of the col, we started our way up. As the col is the point where both valleys meet, the weather is a bit more unstable and in this case, windier and cooler. The path heading to the top is a rather narrow path, not very well marked specially on the last section where it disappears from where it should be. It was very easy to find our way as the cloud had lifted and we could see the peak, but get ready for navigating if the visibility is poor and be really careful as the other side of Mont Vorassay is all sheer cliffs.
On the book the section of this summit is marked on a circular route, but we forgot to pay attention on our way up, so we missed the junction. Therefore, it became a non circular summit walk and we had to come down following the same route we came up, so it was the rest of the route.
Some better weather let us appreciate improved views of the glacier and gave us even more temptation to try to climb it (which was our extra plan), but eventually we decided not to force our bodies on the first walk of the trip and carried on with our walk.
The better weather also allowed us to appreciate more the end of the walk as well as the summit we had just done which till now had been completely hidden behind the clouds.
We modified the walk a little bit doing a shorter version and found it very easy, but we believe that even if it was the long version it’d be still easy and if you are really looking for something challenging, you should consider other options.
It was a total of 12.1km that took us just over 6h. It’s not a hard walk and can be done in lot less time, but as usual, photography took a big chunk of the time.
If you are looking for something more challenging I’d recommend to attempt go up Bionnassay glacier, it looks amazing!!
We both our map in themapshop.co.uk.