Chamonix walking

Discussion of Bushwalking, Hiking, Trekking, Tramping, Rambling and Camping elsewhere around the world.

Chamonix walking

Postby naturelover » Mon 19 Sep, 2016 2:30 pm

HI folks,
Sorry, I seem to have been a bit slack lately. I had so many pictures to sort out and edit ... and haven't stopped walking here after getting back. It all takes time. Anyway, I have now put in three blog entries for our recent European trip (or not so recent, depending on how you choose to define it). They are titled:

Lake District Cumbria UK June 2016 (there are also entries for this location from 2015, 2014, 2012, and 2006);

GR5 France, Modane to Briancon This is the third - and, sadly, probably the final - GR5 entry: great walk for the bit we did, namely, Lac Leman to Briancon;

Chamonix, north of the valley. July 2016

Chamonix, France, north side part 2. July 2016

Chamonix Mont Blanc from south of valley. July 2016. (There were just too many images to fit into a single blog).

The Chamonix route I did was one of my own devising: mainly it was a route that was designed to have me sleeping high every night, with maximum height loss and gain each day for fitness and fun.
During the next month, I'll try to get in the three remaining posts, all on Switzerland.
Hope you enjoy what's there so far,
cheers,
Louise.
User avatar
naturelover
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 285
Joined: Mon 23 Apr, 2012 7:07 pm
Region: Tasmania
Gender: Female

Re: Chamonix walking

Postby benjabimon » Thu 06 Oct, 2016 3:23 pm

Awesome photos from your trip. I had a friend walking around the same area in August. Looks pretty epic, I'd better start saving for a trip there some time :)
User avatar
benjabimon
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 132
Joined: Wed 25 Mar, 2015 9:24 am
Location: Melbourne
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Chamonix walking

Postby naturelover » Thu 06 Oct, 2016 6:48 pm

Thanks so much Ben. I'm thrilled that you enjoyed my photos. It sure is a magic place
User avatar
naturelover
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 285
Joined: Mon 23 Apr, 2012 7:07 pm
Region: Tasmania
Gender: Female

Re: Chamonix walking

Postby Hallu » Thu 06 Oct, 2016 7:09 pm

We're supposed to *guess* your blog URL ?
Hallu
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1741
Joined: Fri 28 Sep, 2012 11:19 am
Location: Grenoble
Region: Other Country

Re: Chamonix walking

Postby ofuros » Fri 07 Oct, 2016 10:24 am

Try this Hallu.... http://natureloverswalks.blogspot.com.au/

..and by the way, lovely pics Louise.
Mountains view are good for my soul...& getting to them is good for my waistline !
https://ofuros.exposure.co/
User avatar
ofuros
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1084
Joined: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 4:42 pm
Region: Queensland
Gender: Male

Re: Chamonix walking

Postby benjabimon » Fri 07 Oct, 2016 11:01 am

naturelover wrote:Thanks so much Ben. I'm thrilled that you enjoyed my photos. It sure is a magic place

Yeah. You carried serious (heavy) camera gear with you so I figured the least I could do in return was offer the praise they rightly deserve :wink:
User avatar
benjabimon
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 132
Joined: Wed 25 Mar, 2015 9:24 am
Location: Melbourne
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Chamonix walking

Postby Hallu » Fri 07 Oct, 2016 4:50 pm

You've summed up the Alps quite nicely : " It's "wild", but is this wilderness? Whatever, it's beautiful.". If you want to be alone in the Alps though, I know a few places. Chamonix/Mont Blanc is probably the most visited area in the Alps (at least in France). You can be totally alone in places like Belledonne, Oisans, Dévoluy, Belledonne and my favorite, Queyras. All depending on the hikes of course, some are popular some are secretive. And in July/August you'll never be alone. The last true French wilderness is in Guyane. The rest has been visited constantly for centuries.
Hallu
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1741
Joined: Fri 28 Sep, 2012 11:19 am
Location: Grenoble
Region: Other Country

Re: Chamonix walking

Postby naturelover » Sun 09 Oct, 2016 1:02 pm

I had heaps of alone time where I went, Hallu. I only had company when I wanted it (and if I'd wanted less, then I should have had my tent up there on those occasions). I was thinking more of the fact that company IS at your beck and call, should you want it, not that you can never get away from the milling crowds. There is, nonetheless, always a road or a village somewhere around. However, it is also very easy to kill yourself if you're stupid, so it is not lacking in wildness - not at all. I actually like both styles of being outdoors: I love the real wilderness of Tassie whilst at the same time also loving the attenuated version that Europe has to offer. I think there's a place for all styles of being out there in nature's beauty. I also love the special 'mountain culture' that you get in the Alps that combines a long, long history of meaningful human contact with the alpine regions, where generations have worked the land, respecting rather than exploiting it.
User avatar
naturelover
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 285
Joined: Mon 23 Apr, 2012 7:07 pm
Region: Tasmania
Gender: Female

Re: Chamonix walking

Postby Hallu » Mon 10 Oct, 2016 7:54 pm

Well as a person living there I would be more nuanced.

It is indeed way more dangerous hiking in France than in Australia or most other places in the world, despite civilization being so close. Especially in the Alps. Too many hikers: it takes a toll on the quality of the tracks, and they're not maintained properly. I'd say June is the most dangerous time to walk. The névés, or persistent snow fields, are very slippery. Deaths occur every year because of them. Also, guardrails on dangerous sections are extremely rare in the Alps. At best you get a cable bolted to the side to help you. But nevermind that. What I think we're lacking most is information. Many walks are dangerous yet there's no warning at the start of the walk. Just some words of caution at the beginning would be nice. I'm thinking of a hike at the lac du glacier d'Arsine for example. There a section that's one of those "one wrong step, you die", with a crumbling path consisting of slippery rocks next to a waterfall, and you see families, kids going there. Also for névés, you could educate people on crampons, how they're a must to carry in late spring hiking. But then when you talk to experienced hikers, or people who do the markings for a walk, they keep saying "they should know better", and that pisses me off. But it's in the nature of the French people to be daredevils... That's why so many do extreme sports. It's also no wonder the French expression "laissez-faire" attitude has become part of the English language now...

As for the people taking care of the land it's not true everywhere. In the middle ages, the forests were simply removed alltogether for agriculture. It's especially true in the centre of France (massif central). They replanted trees during the 19th century because of massive landslides due to erosion. The vast majority f the forests you see in France are 200 years old or less. Even in national parks. There's only a tiny pocket of prestine forest in Bourgogne. In the Alps, the treeline used to be around 2300/2400 m. Now it's closer to 1900/2000 m. For example, the Vercors plateau used to be covered with trees. They cut them all for sheep grazing. They killed all the predators (bears, wolves, lynx, vultures, eagles) and wiped out most of the mountain goats. The bouquetin came back from Italy, so did the wolf. But depite EU laws saying the wolf is protected, France is right now giving out authorizations to sheep farmers to shoot them. The numbers of kills are supposed to be limited, but each time the farmers protests, the quota is raised up... This is at its worst in the Mercantour range where they kill around 40 wolves a year, about 2/3 of the total population there. And bears are a far cry from coming back to the French Alps (or even the Italian Alps). They also use big dogs called patous to protect the sheep, and those dogs are extremely agressive, attacking people that come too close, whereas the wolves never attack humans. Only the vultures are doing a promissing comeback. Bouquetins ? They are ok the some areas, but they've just killed hundreds of them because a couple carried a disease that could be transmitted to cows... Despite the fact that scientists told the government a vaccination campaign would be the solution and culling would simply spread the disease... So when you say "respecting rather than exploiting it" it's not really true. Sure there are admirable aspects of this: cheese, alpines meadows with their flowers, seeing sheep or cows during a walk, the whole culture and spirit of mountain living, but there's a dark side to all this. And I haven't even mentioned ski resorts...
Hallu
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1741
Joined: Fri 28 Sep, 2012 11:19 am
Location: Grenoble
Region: Other Country

Re: Chamonix walking

Postby naturelover » Mon 10 Oct, 2016 8:15 pm

Thanks Hallu. I especially enjoyed that second paragraph, which was most informative. When I have my annual visits to France, I tend to read more books about (and experience first hand) the ongoing small-farmer culture that exists up high, sometimes doubling as a refuge to make ends meet, keeping sheep, making cheeses and so on. That is the mountain culture I was referring to, which I think (reflecting what comes from them and the books I've read) gets too little respect at many levels. Absence of city culture is not "no culture"; it is just a different culture. That is the wavelength I was on, so I think we are talking a little across purposes. I don't think that matters particularly, as what you had to say about the history of the region was fascinating and helps round out the picture I have from my yearly dippings. Thanks.
User avatar
naturelover
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 285
Joined: Mon 23 Apr, 2012 7:07 pm
Region: Tasmania
Gender: Female

Re: Chamonix walking

Postby Hallu » Mon 10 Oct, 2016 11:48 pm

There are a few valleys that feel cut off from the world where it's just small villages with people surviving from farming, crafting, being guides for tourists (hikers, alpinists, scientists) and who have done so for centuries. No ski resorts, nothing. If you're after that, you have places such as Valjouffrey/Valbonnais in the West Ecrins. Hikes there are quite wild, only a couple of tracks, and your chances of meeting someone are quite low. I think it's the only summer hike I've ever done where I didn't see a soul for the whole day. In the East Ecrins a place like Vallouise feels the same way. Basically you need to look for roads going nowhere. There's even Dormillouse, the last yearly inhabited village that you can't reach by road. They deliver food and other essentials with mules. Or you also have the 3rd highest village in Europe, Saint Véran, 2 042 m. The lowest mountain ranges that are Chartreuse, Vercors and Bauges are also appealing, because you basically drive up to a large plateau or valley 1000 m higher than the larger cities that are Chambéry, Grenoble or Albertville. So it feels secluded. The only area I'm really not fond of is Chamonix/Mont Blanc. It's been changed by tourism significantly, and it's lost a lot of its charm. Haute-Savoie, where Chamonix/Mont Blanc is, is way too touristic, ski resorts everywhere. There's no chance they'll create a national park there any time soon. In fact, the Vanoise national park in the South saw its new charter/code of conduct not ratified by the surroundings towns participating in its maintenance, and farmers even sequestred the director of the parc... They want the wolf to be eradicated and the ski resorts to have unlimited development... And I haven't mentioned the hunters that last year killed 2 hikers during hunting accidents (hunting season is september-november). That's against the 9 deaths caused by wolves in 50 years all over Europe including 5 due to rabbies... Are we talking about culling hunters ? Not really. Yet it would be safer to do so...
Hallu
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1741
Joined: Fri 28 Sep, 2012 11:19 am
Location: Grenoble
Region: Other Country


Return to International

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests