Our hike from la Fouly to Champex, Switzerland turned out to be about 5 hikes rolled into one. It started with a pleasant shady stroll down-valley where we watched the mountains and the villages come alive as the sun inched its way up.
Then, as we had opted for the more strenuous option for the day up to the Orny glacier and hut, we set off steeply uphill for what we knew would be a 5,000 foot climb.
About this time we ran into our new friends (and newlyweds) from Vancouver, whom we had chatted with at both Refugio Bonatti and hotel Edelweiss in la Fouly. Rob had a map showing a shortcut (uht-oh), and as he had grown up traipsing around mountains in Canada, we gamely followed him…here’s a bit of the bushwhacking that ensued…
And the bridge that we would have come to had we stayed on trail 🙂
Oh well it was a fun adventure, and no harm done. But we were a bit behind schedule now, so we took off at a good clip up through the woods, and up through the pastures, and zig zagging up the back of the valley and switch-backing through rock scree and etc etc etc… You get the picture: it was a loooong way up. We hadn’t brought any lunch supplies; I had my heart set on lunch at the Cabane d’Orny so even though the extra 20 mins out of the way that it was up to the hut was STRAIGHT UP! Mark and I hightailed it up there to both see the glacier close up and get our lunch reward…
Yes Rob and Raena, we made it for lunch, and it was delish (another one of those amazing mountain huts with no electricity sitting at 9200 feet that turns out a delicious meal.)
So now we have to hightail it down so we don’t miss the la Breya chairlift before its closing time of 5pm so that we don’t have to walk the last 2400 feet down to town. Our trail notes say after a bit of steep down through the rock scree from the hut, we just have to traverse across to the chairlift. Ummm, yeah, I guess, if by ‘just traverse’ you mean around and around and around (for over an hour) a really big-ass mountain that seems to go on forever on a narrow path that STEEPLY drops off a few thousand feet below to our right. We used every set of chains that was embedded into the mountain as an aid and wished there had been more chains in several places along the trail. So now this had become a rather nerve-wracking hike with a time crunch. (But with great views, again!)
View down to Orsieres
No worries though we could finally see the chairlift station with a half-hour to spare… Only to get there and find it not running at all this summer. I was so stunned I didn’t even think to take a picture of the deserted place.
Now this turned not only into a long day, as we had another 90 mins to go, but a punishing one as the first 1600 feet or so down a rock filled ski run, well, sucked. Anyway, we made it down to our Hotel du Glaciers just fine and we couldn’t even feel sorry for ourselves as we sat there and watched UTMB runners who had been running for 12 hours straight go past us while we sipped our reward beers.
UTMB 100 miles runners