Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hiking around Evolene: up towards the Mont de l'Etoile

The day starts much clearer than Saturday: plenty of blue sky, the Dent Blanche in plain view, very nice. The only clouds are on the side of the valley we're planning on heading towards, but we're optimistic that those will clear up.

We catch a bus up the valley at around 8:30 and end up in Arolla shortly past 9. Following the signs to the Aiguilles Rouge we head up and out of town. The path leads up a bit and then parallels the valley wall, nicely through the woods. After not too long of this it becomes pretty clear that we're not really taking the route we originally planned on -- straight up to the Cab. Aiguilles Rouge -- but it's clear that this will take us where we want to go, so onwards we continue. We're not the only one who's made this mistake; we run into a woman intently studying the map who's done the same thing. Ah well. Eventually we get to the attractive, but quite empty, Lac Bleu and then, finally, start to steeply climb. This is another nice trees -> grass -> rocks climb: we start in woods, but by the time we get up around the hut we're in an alpine rock desert. Greg's not feeling 100% fit, so we do a longish food and tea break at the hut before heading off.

The decision to skip the peak is pretty easy: the clouds are at least 100m lower than the peak... not much sense heading up there. Still, we follow the blue-white marked path towards the peak until hitting a unofficial, yellow-white marked, path leading to the north east. This is a great example of a very well marked trail with no visible path. Given the size and frequency of the markings (LARGE PRINT VERSION), it's easy to follow the intended route up to a pass at around 3000m. From here it's an excellent, steep, direttissima descent of ~700m first on rocks/gravel and then on grass before reaching the standard red-white hiking path at around 2300m. This we follow down, down, down, past the Alpage de l'Etoile, past Tsale de la Cretta and Mayens de la Niva, until we hit Evolene and a well-deserved cool beverage.

The clouds kept us off the planned peak, but it was still a great hike.

No comments: