Haute Route Day 4 – Le Châble to Cabane du Mont Fort
On paper the hike from Le Châble on the valley floor to Cabane du Mont Fort was the biggest day of the trip in terms of elevation gain. This starts the moment you step out the door of your hotel and progresses almost non-stop until you get to the cable car station at Les Ruinettes.
To ensure we made the best of the day and avoid the heat we got an early start. That kept us in the shade for most of the initial climb out of the valley. This also meant that we hiked alone almost the entire way, overlapping Martijn only briefly as he overtook us on the way up.
While the path was steep, it was also generally pleasant as it wound through several small villages and steeply wooded slopes. Shortly below Clambin we broke into the sun and the heat started to make its presence felt.
We stopped and grabbed water and a few bites at the junction at Clambin before continuing on up and past a small picnic area at Le Hattey and then onto a broad set of switchbacks that form a ski run in the winter. This section then diverted into the trees for the final stretch up to the Les Ruinettes cable car station.
Just above Clambin the hiker’s path parallels single track mountain bike paths. This area is a mountain biking paradise and some of the runs we saw looked like they were expert or better tracks with significant jumps and features. As we approached Les Ruinettes, we saw countless bikers flying down the dirt road and splitting off onto single tracks and I wished that we’d had some time to do some mountain biking ourselves. This area was also a prime area for paragliding and as we set up for lunch at the cable car station we watch as numerous paragliders launched and soared above the valley.
After lunch we continued along towards Mont Fort. At this point, the majority of our climb was complete and the path followed the course of a bisse gently over the alpine landscape with wonderful views of the valley below and Le Châble where we’d started earlier that morning. The rest of the hike to Cabane du Mont Fort was relatively easy with a steep and tiring section completing the day just below the hut itself.
At the hut, we met up with all our travelling companions. Clare and Paul had taken the cable car earlier that morning and had been at the hut for several hours. The rest of our crew, who had started shortly after us in the morning, had arrived within the previous hour (passing us while we ate). We sat our bags on the deck and relaxed, taking in the warmth of the sun and drinking beers to celebrate a hard but enjoyable day and the incredible views afforded from such a fine alpine hut.
Here we also first met Brian and Denise. Brian is an avid photographer as well (he’s got a great blog too), packing both a DSLR and a tripod on his pack. We’d met this first along the path near the Le Hattey hut but took the opportunity to get better acquainted at the hut.
I also took the extra time to try both some long exposure photography as well as some night photography of the hut.
Note: The huts are generally dorm style. At Mont Fort, rooms had 4 bunks and we shared with Kathy and Val. Showers here are coin operated, but there is plenty of hot water and you can stop the water flow (and the timer) to extend your shower while you lather up.
Max elevation: 8077 ft
Min elevation: 2684 ft