A good weather forecast, so we decided to take a tour from Vallorcine/Buet staying overnight at Refuge Loriaz. We had never walked in that area before and it offered great views of ski areas and the Mont Blanc range from a different perspective. The train/bus took us to Le Buet village and the deceptive sign said Loriaz 1h 30mins; very optimistic I think. We took just over double that but we did have a lunch stop on the way. The Loriaz refuge (2020m)occupies several mountain huts.
This picture shows the huts with Aiguille de Loriaz in background 2752m
It claims to accommodate up to 50 people but with only 2 stand-up type loos and no shower, 50 might be less than comfortable. Just below the Refuge is the Croix de Loriaz shown below with the l’Aiguillette des Possettes (2201m) behind it and the Glacier de Tour beyond that.
We arrived at the Refuge mid-afternoon. This gave Mrs D time for some sketching & painting and me time to do some geocaching. We were put into a dortoir and told there would be 4 others; there were 17 beds. In the event there were 3 more late arrivals also. The dortoir was comfortable and there was a dim security light on all night which helped when sleeping bags and blankets needed rearranging, as mine often did. There was a wide variety of snoring noises, but curiously around 3.30 I awoke to silence, perhaps it was that that woke me! Actually Mrs D and I both had quite good nights.
Our evening meal comprised tasty vegetable soup with a large chunk of Tomme cheese, then spaghetti carbonara followed by a delicious chocolate and coconut cake. We ate with the 4 French people who had made reservations (the three latecomers missed their meal). They beought out some eau de vie at the end of the meal and insisted we join them (Mrs D declined on medical grounds). It warmed me up greatly, which was useful because by that time it was quite chilly.
Next morning we were first up just after 7. Breakfast was the usual hot drink with bread and jam and we were finished packed and ready to leave by 8.20 am. Mrs D took the path down to Vallorcine and I took the Belvedere trek to Lake d’Emosson and the Barbarine path down and back into Vallorcine where we met at the church with the impressive avalanche protection stone walls.
The walk I took involved some quite exposed parts and many fixed rope and metal footsteps on the section towrards Lac d’Emosson. The picture shows the view from the path down to the rendezvous church in Vallorcine.
It crosses a number of avalanche trails and there were several avalanche pipes along the way. (I do not know the proper name but they are tubes that can be used to release gas and create an explosion to set off a minor avalanche before the snow accumulates so much that the ensuing avalanche would be dangerous.) One guidebook states that there is a “vertiginous drop into the Couloir de Barbarine”. I did not particularly notice this alongside the others but the views up down and across were impressive. This is the view up to Grand Perron 2673m on the Swiss border.
The Belvedere part of the walk ended at Col du Passet on the Swiss border with wonderful views of the Lac.
From here the path goes, pretty inexorably, down, about 800m. From the top the terrain looks impossible. I thought “How can a footpath possibly go down there?” But it does! It is steep and mostly rocky but not particularly exposed. There are suprisingly few waymarks although, equally, there are not too many alternatives. On the way down the path crosses many of the gullies that were crossed in the opposite direction earlier and it is good to look back up from time to time.
Quite near to Barbarine village a short detour from the path gives great views of a waterfall and small lake, well worth the detour.
In the village I walked past an EDF telepherique that connects with the Dam. Interestingly, the base of this lift is in France and the top in Switzerland.
At this stage in the walk I had to start going uphill, which for a short while made a nice change. But it soon became “enough already”. It was about 45 minutes to Vallorcine where I met Mrs D and we took the bus/train back to Servoz.
A lovely excursion, great experience, dry weather throughout and fantastic views. As I write this the cloud is gathering rapidly, rain is forecast for the next two days with the rain snow limit down to 1900m!