Refuge de Bel Lachat to Chamonix
Country - France
Region - Haute Savoie (74) - Chamonix Valley
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 9.0 km / 5.6 miles
Ascent - 110 metres / 363 feet
Descent - 1000 metres / 3300 feet
Time - 3.50 hours
Starting from the Refuge de Bel Lachat, which offers an excellent place to relax and enjoy the scenery with excellent food, this route descends into the Chamonix Valley using the route of the Tour Mont Blanc (TMB). The path is well graded and progress down into the valley is fast. This route makes an ideal extension to walk 6010.
From the Refuge walk west to the reach the junction with the TMB. Turn left and immediately start to descend. The path loses height quickly using a succession of well graded zigzags. Of note are three stream crossings in the first section down to the valley path. In spate these would be impassable or very difficult to cross. Under normal conditions they present no problems. The descent offers wonderful views across the Chamonix Valley with the great fingers of glaciers dropping into valley down the opposite mountain particularly impressive.
Reaching the valley path near the 'Parc Animalier' at Merlet, turn left. Do not follow the TMB, which goes right. Shortly after joining the main valley path you have to cross the first of a number of streams. Again in spate all of these would be difficult or impossible to cross. The first one was crossed higher in the descent and cannot be avoided. However the others can be avoided by descending to les Montquarts and following the path along the Arve River back to Chamonix. Joining the 'Petit Balcon' path after the junction for les Montquarts, the route is pleasant passing through woods where wild raspberries can be found in season!
There are a number of points where careful navigation is required although generally it is safe to take the lower path where there is an option. However at Vallot take the right fork and descend towards the outskirts of Chamonix. The path feeds into a road and walking through the suburbs you reach the valley station of the Planpraz Télécabine. Here turn right downhill into the centre of Chamonix.
- Carte de Randonnées "Sheet A1 - Pays due Mont-Blanc" published by Rando Editions. 1:50000 scale - Sheet A1
- Map of Mountain Footpaths in Summer - 1:40000 - Published by the Office de Tourisme
- IGN Carte de Randonnée - Samoëns - Haut Giffre - 1:25000 Sheet 3530ET
French IGN mapping is available in digital format by area and 'cut your own' maps. For more information and availabilty go to the Anquet website.
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