Courmayeur - Mont De La Saxe - Val Ferret
Country - Italy
Region - Aosta Valley
Author - Alpine Interface
Ascent - 1330 metres / 4389 feet
If based in Chamonix, one would have to take the Mont Blanc Tunnel and park in the town of Courmayeur (1250 metres).
The walk begins next to the Guide's Office (Guida Alpina) which is in the centre of town near the main church. One heads north towards the hamlet of Villair following the yellow diamonds that indicate the walking path. From Villair, one heads out of the village and the signs that indicate the Mont de la Saxe and the Rifugio Bertone. The trail winds its way at first along a forester's track and then into a larch forest where one has to cross a small bridge.
It takes about 2 hours of gentle ascent to reach the Rifugio Bertone (1991 metres). This family-run refuge provides excellent meals, wine and coffee. One can also spend the night but it is wise to reserve ahead of time.
The views just above the Bertone hut are some of the best in the Alps. The southern flanks of the Mont Blanc jut upwards and the famous Aiguille Noire de Peutrey and the Brenva Spur are just across the Val Ferret. Some of the best and hardest climbing routes in the Alps are located on the southern side of Mont Blanc.
The remainder of climb to the Saxe ridge is steep but very short, lasting only about 30 minutes. From there, the views to the north-west are spectacular and the walking very gentle. There are several possibilities to shorten the walk but it is best to carry on to Tête de Bernade (2534 metres) and then to Tête de la Tronche (2584 metres) where views are stunning. Keep to the obvious main path since there are many smaller trails that end up nowhere.
One must descend steeply to the Col du Sapin (2436 metres) where there are signs indicating a return route to the Val Ferret. One takes the path past the ruins of the Tsa de Secheron and follows the stream heading towards Armina at 2009 metres. From there, one can see the Val Ferret and the road. It takes about 1.5 hours back to the valley floor and one can return to Courmayeur using the very good shuttle bus service that runs nearly every 15 minutes at various stops along the valley floor.
Walking Times :
Courmayeur to Rifugio Bertone 2 hours
Bertone to the Col Sapin 2 hours
Col Sapin to Val Ferret and Bus 1.5 hours
- Carte Nationale Suisse 1:50,000 Courmayeur
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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