Trekking in the Alps

In this section we present a chapter from the book "Per Alpes, Discovering the Alps in 20 circular walks". Read the tour description below and check other publications of the Alps Convention.

  • Grand Combin tour
  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Tourist info

Six days amid rock and ice


Grand Combin tour

Trailhead: St. Rhémy-en-Bosses(1619m regular bus connection from Aosta)
Highest point: Col des Otanes (2880m)
Total travelling time:35,5-38,5 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 4113m - 4113m
Alp Convention

Route descriptions: The Grand Combin massif forms one of the most breathtaking landscapes of the Pennine Alps, its major summits, Grand Combin de Valsorey, GC de Grafeneire and GC de la Tsessette all rising to more than 4000 metres. From a climber’s point of view, even the most experienced one, this massif with its rocky peaks, sharp crests, countless crevasses and dangerous ice bridges, is very demanding. During this 6-day trekking journey you will not be climbing any of the three major summits, nevertheless this will not make your experience any less spectacular. This tour takes you to Switzerland and Italy, giving you the opportunity to learn more about the cultures and traditions of these countries. The Grand Combin massif is often overshadowed by the more popular four-thousanders of the Western Alps (Monte Bianco/Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Mount Cervino/Matterhorn), consequently you are not likely to find many crowded huts and mostly you will enjoy the extraordinary beauty of the landscape in peace and quiet.

Skills required:This tour requires fitness, endurance and careful footwork. Even though the maximum daily height gain during the tour is 1000m, you need to consider that each journey may take from 7,5 – 8 hours carrying heavy rucksacks. The path on the Grand Combin is well waymarked and visible even in bad weather conditions. On the fourth day it is possible to opt for the climbing route over the massif. Those wishing to do so must be experienced climbers, otherwise an Alpine guide is necessary.

Six days amid rock and ice


Grand Combin tour

Trailhead: St. Rhémy-en-Bosses(1619m regular bus connection from Aosta)
Highest point: Col des Otanes (2880m)
Total travelling time:35,5-38,5 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 4113m - 4113m
Alp Convention

St. Rhémy-en-Bosses – Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard – Lac des Toules – Bourg St. Pierre


Travel time: 5-5,5 h.

During the first day the path is mostly alongside the road to Colle del Gran S. Bernardo. From the small town of St. Rhémy-en-Bosses (1619m) the path climbs over Colle del Gran S. Bernardo at 2469m and follows the Via Alpina for a short while, then enters Switzerland. During the descent the track shadows the road again leading you to Lac des Toules (1810m). Soon after it reaches Bourg St. Pierre (1632m), today’s last stop.

Accommodation:
Hospice du Grand S. Bernard (2473m): Tel. +41-(0)27-7871236, e-mail: hospice@gsbernard.net, www.gsbernard.net, open from the end of May to mid October, private.
For further information: Pays du Saint-Bernard (Office: Bourg Saint Pierre).

Six days amid rock and ice


Grand Combin tour

Trailhead: St. Rhémy-en-Bosses(1619m regular bus connection from Aosta)
Highest point: Col des Otanes (2880m)
Total travelling time:35,5-38,5 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 4113m - 4113m
Alp Convention

Bourg-Saint-Pierre – Creux du Mâ – Boveyre d’en Bas – Alp le Coeur – La Vuardette – Cabane du Col de Mille

Travel time: 5,5-6 h

Leave Bourg Saint Pierre (1632m) and head north, then walk up to Creux du Mâ (1975m). After gaining 300m you get to the valley of Mount Boveyre d’en Bas. Enjoy walking through the pastures of Alp le Coeur and through the Chaux’s valley (2473m). Once you cross La Vuardette ridge, you are not very far from the Cabane du Col de Mille (2473m) with its stunning view of the Mont Blanc.

Accommodation:
Cab. du Col de Mille (2473m): Tel. +41-(0)79-2211516, www.vs-wallis.ch/wallis/huetten/col-mille.html, open from mid June to mid October, private.

Six days amid rock and ice


Grand Combin tour

Trailhead: St. Rhémy-en-Bosses(1619m regular bus connection from Aosta)
Highest point: Col des Otanes (2880m)
Total travelling time:35,5-38,5 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 4113m - 4113m
Alp Convention

Cab. du Col de Mille – La Treutse – Cab. Brunet – Plan Goli – Cabane F.X. Bagnoud à Panossière

Travel time: 5,5-6 h

Today’s route starts at the foot of Mount Rogneux. Follow the path through dark woods and peaceful pastures towards the Servay basin. Soon after La Treutse you reach a narrow road, follow it till the Caberne Brunet (2103 m). From this point you can choose to walk up the next slope and over the Glacier de Corbassière. If however you stick to the path described in here, avoid the glacier and walk uphill towards Plan Goli (2315m), at the foot of the glacier. Follow the track as it runs steeply over the glacier’s moraine at the end of which stands the towering Cabane F.X. Bagnoud à Panossière (2645m).

Accommodation:
Cabane F.X. Bagnoud à Panossière (2645m): Tel. +41-(0)27-7713322 or +41-(0)27-5652558, e-mail: cabanefxb@netplus.ch, www.fxb-panossiere.com, open from the beginning of July to mid September, private.

Six days amid rock and ice


Grand Combin tour

Trailhead: St. Rhémy-en-Bosses(1619m regular bus connection from Aosta)
Highest point: Col des Otanes (2880m)
Total travelling time:35,5-38,5 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 4113m - 4113m
Alp Convention

Cabane F.X. Bagnoud à Panossière – La Tseumette – Mauvoisin – Les Fontanes – Lac de Tsofeiret – Cab. de Chanrion

Travel time: 6,5-7 h

On the fourth day you reach the highest point of the route, at almost 2900 metres. Leaving the hut, follow the lateral moraine and climb up the Col des Otanes at 2846m. You will never forget the view of the Grand Combin. Follow the steep winding path all the way to the beautiful Alpe Tseumette. Just before Mauvoisin, take the road to Lake de Mauvoisin (1961m), go past the dam and walk steadily uphill to the foot of the icy La Ruinette (3875m), on the way to the Cabane de Chanrion (2462m).

Accommodation:
Cab. de Chanrion (2,462m): Tel. +41-(0)27-7781209, www.vs-wallis.ch/wallis/huetten/chanrion.html, open from the beginning of July to the end of September, SAC-CAS.

Alternative route:
Climbing the Grand Combin This route is only for experienced climbers and solely in optimal weather conditions. Less experienced climbers must be accompanied by alpine guides. For this climb full alpine gear (crampons, ice axes, rope and harness) is needed. The trailhead for this route is Cabane de Panossière. The track crosses the Glacier de Corbassière on the left flank, follow it as you bypass an area of crevasses, between 2800m -2900 m and finally, turning first right and then left, you reach Plateau du Déjuner. At this point the glacier has an inclination of approximately 40-50 degrees. Crossing the north-western crest you eventually reach the main summit, the Grand Combin de Grafeneire (4314m). After climbing the western crag, at grade III, you reach Col du Meitin (3611m). Finally, descend to the Valsorey hut (3037m).

Accommodation:
Tel. +41-(0)27-7871122) and relax after a strenuous day. The following morning, descend directly to Bourg St. Pierre passing by the Chalet d’Amont.

Six days amid rock and ice


Grand Combin tour

Trailhead: St. Rhémy-en-Bosses(1619m regular bus connection from Aosta)
Highest point: Col des Otanes (2880m)
Total travelling time:35,5-38,5 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 4113m - 4113 m
Alp Convention

Cabane de Chanrion – Grand Chermontane – Col Fenêtre de Durand – Lombardi – Bassin de By – Econdu – Champillon – Rif. Letey à Champillon

Travel time: 7,5-8 h.

Today is the longest trekking day of the tour, beginning on steep and narrow paths leading to the Grand Chermontane. Climb the next slope, and after gaining 3000m you find yourself between Avril peak and Gelé peak. The path then crosses Fenêtre de Durand (2797m) back into Italian territory. As you start descending, you soon find yourself walking again on a typical alpine pasture path. Follow it as it leads you to Conca di By, host to many glacial streams. Following a way-marked track you reach Champillon (2078m) and after gaining 300m you eventually get to Letey à Champillon (2375m).

Accommodation:
Rif. Letey à Champillon (2375m): Tel. +39-339-4351001, www.theflintstones.it/montagna/escursionismo/rifugi/champillon.htm, open from mid June to the end of September, private

Six days amid rock and ice


Grand Combin tour

Trailhead: St. Rhémy-en-Bosses(1619m regular bus connection from Aosta)
Highest point: Col des Otanes (2880m)
Total travelling time:35,5-38,5 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 4113m - 4113m
Alp Convention

Rif. Letey à Champillon – Col de Champillon – Chaz de Pointier – Combe Germain – Montagne Barasson – St. Rhémy-en-Bosses

Travel time: 5,5-6 h

After six days, it is time to leave the Grand Combin massif. From the hut, take the path up to Col de Champillon (2708m), walk through Combe Germain, and reach Mount Barasson (1865m). Finally follow a narrow path, back to your starting point at St. Rhémy-en-Bosses (1619m).

Accommodation:
For information: Ufficio turistico di Aosta.

Six days amid rock and ice


Grand Combin tour

Trailhead: St. Rhémy-en-Bosses(1619m regular bus connection from Aosta)
Highest point: Col des Otanes (2880m)
Total travelling time:35,5-38,5 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 4113m - 4113m
Alp Convention

Useful information

Tourist information
A.I.A.T. Gran San Bernardo: Tel. +39-0165-78559 e-mail: info@gransanbernardo.net, www.gransanbernardo.net
Ufficio turistico di Aosta: Tel. +39-0165-236627 e-mail: uit-aosta@regione.vda.it, www.regione.vda.it/turismo
Pays du Saint-Bernard (Bourg-Saint-Pierre): Tel. +41-(0)277-833248, e-mail: info@saint-bernard.ch, www.saint-bernard.ch

Alpine Guides
Società delle Guide della Valpelline: Tel. +39-0165-78559 o +39-0165-713502 (Valpelline), e-mail: info@guidevalpelline.com, www.guidevalpelline.com

Weather
Aosta Valley: www.regione.vda.it/territorio/centrofunzionale/meteo/default_i.asp
Italy: www.meteo.it, www.meteoitalia.it, www.meteoam.it
Switzerland: +41-(0)900-162 333 www.meteoschweiz.admin.ch

Public Transport
SAVDA: www.savda.it

Maps
Meridiani Montagne: Grand Combin Carta/Tour des Combins in six days / all huts, all important phone numbers: 1:40.000 (with detailed plan 1:15.000)
National map of Switzerland, Sheet 5027 T (Grand St. Bernard – Combins – Arolla, 1:50.000
National map of Switzerland, Sheet 1346 (Chanrion): 1:25.000
National map of Switzerland, Sheet 1366 (Mont Vélan): 1:25.000i

Alpine clubs
Club Alpino Italiano (CAI), Sezione di Aosta: Tel. +39-0165-40194, www.aosta.caivda.it
Swiss Alpine Club (SAC-CAS): Tel. +41-(0)31-3701818, e-mail: info@sac-cas.ch,www.sac-cas.ch

Websites
www.tourdescombins.ch
www.via-alpina.org