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Published: September 1st 2013
The August 1st long weekend in Switzerland we decided to head South, as south as possible, to the border of Switzerland - Italy - France. We did part of Grand Combins tour and TMB.
Zurich HB - Brig - Lausanne - Martigny - Fionnay (slightly cheaper and longer than way through Bern)
La Fouley -
The trip started from Fionnay (instead of Mauvoisin due to fear of snow on the way), and day 1 was long train ride from Zurich + gaining 1200m to get to the Panossiere hut. The hut is situated right next to big glacier of Grand Combins. It was almost like the Blue Glacier I had seen before. The view is dominated by 2 huge set of mountains. The hike up is usual grueling straight up climb, with no real views till you reach the top. Once settled in the hut, we decided to go up to Col de Otanes. Its a very steep 200m which I did not like coming down at all, it also did not add much to the view, just make us really tired.
We thought we had
a easy day, no more steep height gains, so stated slowly at 8:00am. Big mistake. The destination was Col de Mille. Its about 12km, and quite frequent ups and down. Tired from previous day's adventures, we were going quite slow. We reached the mid-point Cabane Brunet around 1:00pm. It was suppose to be another 2 - 3 hrs from here, but this was hours in full sun. The train pretty much circuits the one mountain to get to other side of Grand Combins. In the afternoon heat, we were getting really exhausted. There was a long ridge walk, at times steep up and we were doing it around 3:00pm. It was really exhausting. The whole trip took is around 8 hrs, when it should have taken 5 hrs. There were also not many views to keep us occupied here. I was so glad to see Col de Mille and its pass and the mountains beyond. Today we were too exhausted to do any side excursions, so we just walked around a bit and settled in early. Next day we were going to start really early to avoid the heat and reach in time for the bus. I was also quite
apprehensive about the route because I was feeling too tired to handle any steep ups and downs. We met a lot of people who were doing tour de Combins, and another couple of folks who were doing same route as us but other way. We asked around for the route and they said its quite easy, most of it was visible and so was the town below. It was promising.
We got up dot at 6:00 and started packing. The plan was to start walking, and then stop somewhere for breakfast once sun warms up the place. We started by 7:00, it was mildly chilly, nothing too worrying. The day was cloudy. There was also a short drizzle, just enough to justify carrying all the rain gear. The way out from hut was on narrow mountain side. There were couple of places where it had some wash outs, but nothing to worry about, might be worse if it had really rained. There was a beautiful mountain range next to the hut which came in our full view as we walked. The sun, the clouds and light were playing really pretty games with the mountain
range and we could not help but keep taking pictures at every 5 steps. Soon we were at a pass, from where the way down to village was quite clear. We sat and had some breakfast at the pass. The Grand Combins had also come into view by this time. The view was just great. We had no idea how much more beauty is in store for us 😊
Off from the pass, we were going to walk the sides of another mountain. This was probably the sunny side. By this time sun has come up and our mountain range was looking absolutely gorgeous! Lighting was just prefect. As we walked further, the green mountain side turned into one of the most splendid colourful display of wild flowers. There were so many wild flowers, it was unbelievable. The whole mountain was full of all sorts of colours. It was so hard to walk, and I did not know where to look, at the flower display on left side or below on right side, or in front, or to look at the beautiful mountain range in front. This is what I call a view so beautiful that it huts your
eyes! Between taking photos, we somehow managed to walk and cross the distance in time. After an hour or so of walking and taking photos, we reached a stream. This was almost end of the views. Once the stream is crossed, its just all the way down on a wide path to Bourg-St-Pierre. We reached there quite early and took the 12:.. bus to St. Bernard pass.
The pass is suppose to be really beautiful, and is border of Italy and Switzerland. After the walk we had on the mountain, nothing could impress us. Once reaching the pass, we took a shared room in a monastery. There are 2 "hotels" connected by a bridge which are apparently very different. One is fancy for-profit hotel and other this monastery. With some stroke of luck, we ended up at the monastery, and it was great. Good food, cheap room. Since we were here so early, it was time for hot shower, some washing and looking around for food. We went to Italian side in search for good food, but were surprised that there was nothing. It was past lunch time on Swiss side also, so we just ate some bars. This was also a path to some pilgrimage and late evening the monastery was flooded with a huge group of pilgrims. We had dinner there, and the best dessert ever - a ice-cream filled with honey!
More photos - https://plus.google.com/photos/103561338002909087861/albums/5908510565456127377?banner=pwa
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