Refuge Albert Premier & Col De Balme
Country - France
Region - Haute Savoie (74) - Chamonix Valley
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 10.0 km / 6.3 miles
Ascent - 600 metres / 1980 feet
Descent - 600 metres / 1980 feet
The Refuge Albert Premier makes a wonderful objective for a day in the mountains. The route is an out and back walk offering extensive views of the Chamonix Valley, the Glacier du Tour and its surrounding mountains. Also included in the scenic delights are Mont Blanc, Mont Buet, Aiguilles de Chardonnet and the Aiguille Rouges.
Take the Télécabine from Le Tour to Chalet de Charamillon and continue on the connecting Télésiege des Autannes to its mountain terminus. After alighting take the clear track south signed to the Refuge. The scenery is immediately impressive with Mont Blanc rising above the Chamonix Valley. The path is clear and progress fast with little ascent until you reach pretty Lac de Charamillon on your right. Continuing south the path starts to climb.
Turning east you get the first of what will be a continuous vista of rock and ice. Below on your right is the snout of the Glacier du Tour. Alongside on the moraine you can see the path coming up from the village of Le Tour. You are now entering a rocky landscape with the path twisting a turning to reach the moraine. Climbing onto the moraine, the way ahead becomes steeper with the Refuge in clear view on the skyline. Even in late June early July the final section of the path was covered in snow, although the passage of many boots had created a series of steps. Reaching the Refuge you can relax and enjoy the view.
The return route follows the outward walk. However it is worth continuing along the main track to Col de Balme and its refuge. From here you get good views east into Switzerland with Franco-Swiss border marked by a granite stone. From the Col you might wish to climb to the Croix de Fer (See Walking Switzerland for details). After exploring the Col de Balme return along the track to the top station of the Télésiege and start the descent back to le Tour.
- 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 - Chamonix - Massif de Mont Blanc - 1:25000 Sheet 3630OT
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.
Walking in Corsica
This guidebook gives details of three long-distance walking routes in Corsica - Mare e Monti, Mare-Mare Nord and Mare-Mare Sud - which cross the island, and also describes 18 day-walks in prime spots both in the rugged mountains of the interior and the softer southern coastal fringe. Good local information.
The GR20 Corsica
Guidebook to walking the GR20 through Corsica's high mountains. A challenging trail between Calenzana and Conca that includes hands-on scrambling, the 190km trek can be completed by fit walkers in about two weeks. The guidebook includes high and low-level alternatives, plus extra mountain climbs, and all you need to know for this tough route.