Walking the GR52 - Day 3

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The notch of Pas du Mont Colomb from the descent to Madone de Fenêtre

Date 3 Aug 2004 Weather A warm day with an early thunderstorm
From Lac de Trécolpas To above Lac Niré
Difficulty 1,150 m ascent, 940 m descent, route hard, navigation moderate

Climbed to pas des Ladres (2,448 m). The col was obvious as a narrow slit between rock towers on the ridge across the valley. Then descended to la Madone de Fenêtre. Hot chocolate and myrtle tart at the CAF refuge. Visited the church next to a large hotel for penitants as the area has three pilgrimages each summer.

Climbed through rough pastures before heading across steep large scree and the odd scramble to pass through the first barrier to a small lake nestling under pas du Mont Colomb where I stopped for lunch. A young chamois ran down a snow slope and I sighted another two.

The storm started but I decided to press on despite it. A steep rocky ascent lead to the slit of a col. Only a metre or so wide it drops away sheer on the other side. Almost a rock climb down the first few metres then steeply down at first, then a very slow kilometre or more along a moraine; a difficult jumble of large and by now wet and slippery rocks. Then down again more steeply to la Balme where the access road to the dam is reached. Turn left up the road, a little past the dam and around to the refuge built high on a prominence overlooking the impoundment.

While waiting for the rain to stop I indulged in more hot chocolate and tart and a chat with an old German couple who were going to walk in New Zealand in January. The dinner setup forced the decision. The refuge was very busy so I left to camp at lac Nire or one of the lakes further up. As I ascended the rain eased and stopped and the clouds slowly cleared. On reaching lac Nire a chamois was grazing nearby. While a beautiful setting I could not find a good camp site so headed up to the next lake which had an ideal site. The wind dropped for perfect reflections of the col.

All images and text in this web site are copyright (2004) J. M. Fowler.