Grand Balcon Sud

Sunday was another lovely sunny day. It was also the last day of opening for the Brevent and Flegere lifts, and at a more minor level the last day of opening for the Tourist Office in Servoz. This combination brought out the crowds. We drove to Flegere to find the car park nearly full by half nine. Luckily there was no lift queue and we were soon at the top and on our walk along the Grand Balcon Sud to Col de Montets, a path we had never walked the second part of. Thankfully, most of the crowds were taking the Lac Blanc path and it was much quieter on our path. We met and chatted to an Englishman who was just completing the Tour de Mont Blanc. He lived in Dorset and had a place in Les Gets. He said that the trail was very busy with all the refuges full every night, that must have been rather unpleasant, bearing in mind the basic and limited nature of “the facilities”.
The walk starts off as the Tour du Mont Blanc path and ends up as the Tour du Pays de Mont Blanc shortly after Les Cheserys.
After a short descent from Flegere lift station there is a steady climb past a restaurant used most extensively in the ski season that is in the process of being expanded with big diggers standing around. Apparantly, the restaurant is on the site of old stables. The climb crosses a couple of ski piste coloirs then enters the Aiguille Rouge nature reserve. The path is very easy to follow and well graded with great views down and across the Chamonix valley.
Eventually you loose the sight of the lift station behind you as you round a headland and start a descent twords a stream carrying the outlet water from Lac Blanc. At this point there is a glorious and much reproduced view of Mont Blanc. My picture does not do it justice because of the glare from the snow
Climbing up from the stream you walk past a hut and climb, quite distance, past stone avalanche barriers to a meeting of paths at le Tete aux Vents (2130m). The path to the left is the TMB trail down towards Argentiere, that to the right goes up and back to Lac Blanc the one forward goes to Col des Montets. There was quite a crowd at this junction, many walkers chatting and joking, others taking off clothes to sit and sunbathe while some (us) walked on with stoic calm to find a quiet place to have lunch. Our selected lunch spot had good views of the Argentiere glacier and ski area
After lunch it was mostly all descent. At first quite gently, then a little steeper over many rock pavements, the rocks having been smoothed by glacial erosion. On this stage of the walk we noticed lots of swallows flying past, doubtless on their migration. There are increasing views up the Vallorcine valley
and eventually there is a steep descent to the Col des Montets with the road and Nature Reserve chalet. We have often stood at the bottom of this descent and watched walkers zig-zag their way up. We can know say quietly to ourselves “We’ve done that” or indeed to anyone else that might listen!
We then walked down to Le Buet and just had time for a beer before the bus took us back to our car at Flegere.

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