Wild camping in the Aiguilles Rouges ↑ all posts

Wild camping in the Aiguilles Rouges

Up at 6am for the long haul from Zermatt to Chamonix. I’d kind of forgotten I was in a deep valley and so the sunshine I was expecting was only illuminating the high peaks around me. In the darkness I set off down the hill. In the Rhone valley the sun hit me and I spent the morning travelling along the long and flat valley floor past vineyards (Swiss wine

The Rue de Forclaz manages to find its way upwards through the vineyards, and into the forests above the town. This is a south facing mountainside and the sun’s heat was pretty intense. I could feel waves of heat pulsing outwards from the stone walls of the road, and the sweat poured off me. I was passed by another cyclist who gave some words of encouragement and then disappeared into the distance. At a section of switchbacks somewhere near the top of the climb I found him again, standing underneath a waterfall just off the road. This looked like a great idea so I joined him, and braved the icy snow-melt to get some refreshment.

I reached the Col du Forclaz a bit sooner than I’d expected which was a nice surprise and enjoyed the long downhill to Trient and the French border. Another gentler climb to the Col du Montets and I was finally entering the Chamonix valley. And what an entrance! I first saw the gleaming spire of the Aiguille du Midi above the treetops, and the other peaks appeared as I rounded the corner: the Aiguille du Tour, Chardonnet, Aiguille Vertes and the Drus, and then Mont Blanc itself, the upper snowfields glowing in the afternoon sunshine.

I arrived just in time to catch the last lift on the Brevent cable car, carrying my tent and sleeping bag in the stuff sack from the back of my bike. Dehydrated from the long hot cycle climbs and with a pounding headache, I pushed on up the path to the Lac Blanc. Completely covered in ice and snow I wasn’t going to find anywhere to camp nearby so I descended slightly to a lower lake, and set up my tent on the edge as the sun set.