After an hour or so contour walking from the Les Ruinettes cable car station we took the Col de La Chaux track just below Cabane du Mont Fort - not because we chose it deliberately, but rather because we missed the signs towards Col Termin! The Kev Reynolds Guide book suggests this is the shorter route and more favourable in certain conditions - we are still trying to figure out what these could be! For on this perfect sun-kissed day, we found the route tiresome. Initially the path was a broad gravel track that swept up towards Mt. Fort where we were overtaken by mountain bikers pedalling slowly upwards. Once off this track, the going got rougher - loose gravel, unstable rock and then a small ice field.
Passing one of the small glacial ponds on the way to the Col.We soon reached the col to be rewarded by views of snow-capped La Pleureur, Grand Combin and Petit Combin. The descent on the other side was tricky - steep with loose gravel, and some boulder hopping - we weren't pleased to be doing this on our first day. Just above where this track joined that coming up from Lac Louvier we had a rest and feasted our eyes on the glacier sweeping down from Grand Combin. But soon we were slogging upwards again as we headed up the Col de Louvie. Here we were greeted by Buddhist prayer flags strung on a cairn.
The descent from this Col looked even steeper than the previous one! We had to cross the Grand Désert .......
.......before we could begin the ascent of the 3rd the final pass of the day - the Col de Prafleuri.
Definitely a hard first day to start the hike, but rewarding in terms of the views and the feeling of achievement at the end of the long day.
The guide book and the path sign boards suggest 5.5 hours. I estimate it took us 7.5 hours (including rest stops) to cover 10 kilometres with a height gain of 885 metres and loss of 740 metres.
View Cabane du Mont Fort to Cabane de Prafleuri in a larger map