Haute Route Day 8 – La Sage to Cabane de Moiry

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The hike from La Sage to Cabane de Moiry counts as probably the second hardest day of the trip behind the long and tiring traverse from Cabane du Mont Fort to Cabane de Prafleuri. On paper, this stage of the trip shares the title for largest elevation gain and the hike lived up to that hype. To make matters more intimidating, the weather forecast called for 90% chance of rain.

Because of the big day ahead of us, Anne and I got started as early as we could, taking first call at breakfast and shoving off before 8am. We’d both taken the hint from the weather forecast and started with rain pants and pack covers on. I was glad my rain pants had full length zips because it wasn’t long before I was getting warm and looking to dump excess heat as we climbed steeply up the valley walls towards the Col du Tsaté.

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(photo by Anne Archambault)

It’s worth noting that most of the trail from Chamonix to Zermatt passes through summer pasture land. However, nowhere on the Haute Route was the evidence of cows more present than in the climb from La Sage up to Col du Tsaté. In places, it was almost impossible to walk without stepping in cow pies. This got us into the habit of identifying such parcels on the trail and calling out “Caca Suisse!” to avoid stepping in them.

The descent from the col led to a pronounced flank along the valley, likely an old moraine, from which there was a steep descent to the lake and, um, parking lot. That’s right, you can take a bus here and in the summer there’s even a refreshment stand. Anne and I grabbed a bench and made lunch while we looked at other tourists who’d driven up to the parking lot for a picnic. It wasn’t long before Val, Kathy, Eliza, and Gareth joined us and we had a great lunch before heading off and up again to the hut.

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(photo by Anne Archambault)

The final part of the day involved a hike up from the parking lot to gain the crest of the lateral moraine running up the valley. This then descends off the moraine and over to the valley wall where it again climbs steeply in switchbacks until it finally gains a stupendous overlook and the Cabane de Moiry. Alas, most of our hike was in low clouds obscuring the view up the mountain and threatening rain. Combined with the already large dose of elevation gain, it turned the final part of the hike into a chore.

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(photo by Anne Archambault)

Without a doubt, Cabane de Moiry was the highlight of the trip for me. The hut sits atop an incredible viewpoint and has windows that stretch floor to ceiling and provide unmatched views across the glacier to the mountains towering over them.

From the hut it’s possible to access a myriad of rock climbs as well as glacier travel, advanced mountaineering, and ski touring in the winter. Our entire entourage was happy to sit back, read, drink beer, and enjoy this wonderful setting. As a bonus, we were even able to see ibex while we were eating. Truly a glorious setting and a highlight of the trip!

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(photo by Anne Archambault)

 

Total distance: 8.12 mi
Max elevation: 9400 ft
Min elevation: 5404 ft