Hot summer in the French Alps

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Hot summer in the French Alps

Postby Hallu » Thu 16 Jul, 2015 9:23 pm

Hey it's been a while since I've bothered you guys with some French Alps marvels. You may have seen it on the news (the TV news do love a nice extreme weather episode), but continental Europe is having a scorching hot summer at the moment. It's been about 3 weeks since it last rained in Grenoble, and for about 15 of 20 of those last days temperatures have climbed above 30° (big whoop right ?), half of those above 35°. So it was definitely time to head to higher elevations for some cooler temperatures.

The first hike was in the Ecrins National Park. The main road to the park is closed at the moment, because of a massive landslide threat that still hasn't happened. So instead I went to a more secretive area of the park, called La Bérarde. It's the start of many walks in the Western side of the Ecrins. Initially I wanted to just follow the river and enjoy the glacier view. The start of the walk is nice : wildflowers, green meadows, and the raging torrent nearby fed by the glaciers. The glaciers themselves showed their side only an hour into the walk. Getting closer and closer I decided I had to push further and climb to the Refuge de la Pilatte, the start of many glacier walks and easy alpinism expeditions. Even in this heat there were still some névés, old patches of snow on the track, and some were quite dangerous (on the same type of terrain a group of hiker fell a couple of weeks ago, one being in a coma now), walking poles are a must here. But it was worth it, the refuge is right inside an amphitheater of glaciers. The building is a bit too big for my taste, and full of hikers, but it doesn't spoil the view. The walk back was nice too as it was up on the other side of the river, with great views toward the Barre des Ecrins.
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Last edited by Hallu on Thu 16 Jul, 2015 9:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hot summer in the French Alps

Postby Hallu » Thu 16 Jul, 2015 9:30 pm

Another hike I did was an easier one to the Refuge de Péclet-Polset in Vanoise national park and its nearby Lac Blanc. It was supposed to be a nice little lake with some mountains goats. There was only one mountain goat, but that lake turned out to be on of the most beautiful I had ever seen. The shape, the surrounding mountains, it was perfect. It's an easy hike on a wide 4WD track, so not exactly wild, but that means anybody can go there.
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Re: Hot summer in the French Alps

Postby Hallu » Thu 16 Jul, 2015 9:42 pm

And last week I went to the other side of the mountains you see on the Lac Blanc picture. Still a hot day with clear blue skies. The track was steeper that time. I had 2 choices : either go see the Glacier de Gébroulaz (the track litteraly go on the left of it since it melted down in past decades) or other lakes, the 2 not being connected by any track. So I chose the glacier because I couldn't see it from the junction between the two tracks. It was a great idea, as there was a big group of bouquetins (called ibex or mountain goats in English) including some big males with huge horns. Magnificent. The glacier wasn't bad too. On the way down I decided, the hell with it, let's check out those lakes too, it'll be a nice lunchbreak (which consisted of a biscuit and some water). The track to the lakes was way steeper than to the glacier, with some scrambling. Plus it was at 2500+ m elevation, right on my not-so-sweet spot where I start coughing up my lungs. But I did it, the lakes weren't so great compared to Lake Blanc but what the hell, I still enjoyed it and clocked 1200 m total elevation gain that day.
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Re: Hot summer in the French Alps

Postby vicrev » Thu 16 Jul, 2015 10:37 pm

Great pics,Hallu,haven't walked that area,I want to now...... :D .....
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Re: Hot summer in the French Alps

Postby vicrev » Thu 16 Jul, 2015 10:41 pm

What is the small statue in the first pic,Hallu ?...
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Re: Hot summer in the French Alps

Postby Hallu » Thu 16 Jul, 2015 11:01 pm

On the left of it is a little wooden carving of a bouquetin. The rest of that thing is just a drinking trough for animals and hikers.
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Re: Hot summer in the French Alps

Postby gayet » Fri 17 Jul, 2015 7:42 am

Magnificent. As always. I assure you it's not a bother!

Thanks Hallu.
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Re: Hot summer in the French Alps

Postby deadwood » Mon 20 Jul, 2015 8:39 pm

Nice pics Hallu. Is October getting a bit late in the season for walking up in the mountains?
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Re: Hot summer in the French Alps

Postby Hallu » Mon 20 Jul, 2015 9:35 pm

Nope, I walked until the first week of November last year. Up until 2500 m you can walk until mid-October. When I walked that altitude in late October I had quite a bit of snow with a beautiful frozen waterfall. But there are plenty of interesting walks around 2000 m still. You can just walk up there and go back when you see snow, or pack your snowshoes as many do. The first snowfall last year was around the 20th of October I think, and it was only at 2000 m and above. However, that doesn't mean you won't find patches of ice on the track, and that's what could be dangerous. Crampons could be useful then. If it's early October, you'll be fine. I did the Queyras region in early October, stunning autumn colors :
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