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Summer hiking 2016: Alps

Tue 11 Oct, 2016 1:05 am

Here's a couple of nice hikes I did this summer+ September (autumn hikes are coming too). The first one was Plateau de Tirière (Ecrins) in late June. We've had quite a late summer this year, so there was still snow in a lot of places. Besides, in the case of this track, it wasn't maintained yet, so a couple of areas were eroded and dangerous (you slip you fall 400 m down). We call them "balcony walks", as the path is quite near either a cliff either a very steep grassy slope. But the views were nice, especially down the valleys, and the waterfall in good form.

Re: Summer hiking 2016: Alps

Tue 11 Oct, 2016 1:10 am

A mountain range that's rarely visited by foreign tourists is Devoluy. Nestled between Ecrins and Vercors, it's a very rocky place, known for its cliffs and absence of lakes... except one, lac du Lauzon. Which is more of a swamp really. I was in the fog for a good 50% of the way in. But then I emerged from the clouds in an isolated valley (marmots excepted). It's a nice place, the rocks are very impressive, and I had a couple of vultures to keep me company on the way back. It was quite an easy hike, mostly in meadows, perfect for novices.
Last edited by Hallu on Tue 11 Oct, 2016 2:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Summer hiking 2016: Alps

Tue 11 Oct, 2016 1:19 am

Next was a week end in one of my favorite places in the world, Queyras. It's a mountain range with no glacier but a lot of charm. Secluded, with historical villages, famous wood crafting, old recipes for pastries and cheeses, rugged terrain, idyllic lakes. Sounds like anywhere in the Alps, but here there are only a couple tiny ski resorts over a huge area and no town created purely for tourism unlike in Savoie with Tignes, Les Arcs and all those horrors. The first hike I did was easy technically, but being at 3000 m max (well, 2998), it gets hard on the lungs, with the altitude. Crossing alpines meadows full of flowers, a nice valley, it finishes with a vehicular track leading to an osbservatory. Not sexy, but helpful as it's not as steep as the usual alpine walking track. The view at the top is grand, although looking to the italian border, it was quite foggy, as it is the case every afternoon in summer (a nice piece of information if you intend to go there for hiking in summer: it's morning hiking only). The next day, I did a classic lake called Lac Saint Anne. Lovely waterfalls, and the lake is nicely put inside a rocky amphitheater.

Re: Summer hiking 2016: Alps

Tue 11 Oct, 2016 1:25 am

Lac des Pissoux was a tough one. It starts in Le Désert en Valjouffrey, a secluded "end of the road" village on which ski tourism hasn't had the chance to put one of its nasty greedy tentacles. It was a tough hike: 1400 m elevation gain, the last 500 or so during the last kilometre. So the 900 first metres were quite comfortable, in a lovely valley with tall waterfalls. But getting to the lake was brutal. Yes it's steep but if on a crest it can be comfortable and the views make up for it. However, here it was on a screesclope/boulderfield the whole way. Sometimes like climbing a sanddune. With smelly and awkward sheep that won't get out the way. To add insult to injury, a storm was brewing behind the mountains, and the lake was rubbish (see photo). Views were great, but I should have stopped at the refuge. On the way back in was raining (not ideal when climbing down a boulderfield). This is a tough place for tough people for sure.
Storm brewing
The "lake" is on the bottom right. I've seen better.
Last edited by Hallu on Tue 11 Oct, 2016 2:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Summer hiking 2016: Alps

Tue 11 Oct, 2016 1:31 am

My knee hurt after the Lac des Pissoux hike so instead of 1400 m elevation gain, I opted for a nice 900 m hike. Yes, the Alps change you. I used to think, back when I was living in Australia, that anything above 400/500 was tough. Now I'm at the point where 900 is what I do when I'm not in good shape... Anyway. Lac de Belledonne is in the mountain range of the same name, and is a lovely long lake below the highest peak in the range. It also crosses blueberry and juniper fields, and offers nice views of distant glacier-covered peaks.

Re: Summer hiking 2016: Alps

Tue 11 Oct, 2016 1:36 am

The last one I'm presenting was a very cool hike called Lac des Quirlies. Full of surprises. The first one was 2 massive waterfalls that you cross and then climb from the right through a quite impressive track. Next you're in a picturesque valley, and although the total elevation gain wasn't that high (around 1000) having to do 500 of those on the last 1-1.5 km was brutal. Luckily the end was worth it with a glacial lake and the glacier that formed it. Too bad global warming is making it disappear faster and faster...

Re: Summer hiking 2016: Alps

Tue 11 Oct, 2016 7:39 am

Lovely as always Hallu.

Thanks for posting.

Re: Summer hiking 2016: Alps

Tue 11 Oct, 2016 7:45 am

Fantastic. Have only managed a handful of day hikes in the Alps but seriously have to get back there.

Re: Summer hiking 2016: Alps

Tue 11 Oct, 2016 6:08 pm

Ah, wonderful. Thank you. Particularly like that third shot from des Pissoux.
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