Monday 21st August: Day 2, Tour des Glaciers de la Vanoise, Refuge du Roc de la Peche to Refuge du Fond d’Aussois

We got up early after a rubbish night’s sleep. Somehow, instead of putting the heating on for an hour or two to dry the washing and warm the room, we’d managed to leave it on over night. Although our bedroom was nice, we weren’t impressed with the evening meal… tasteless soup and skinny chicken legs! Breakfast was ok though. It was nice to chat to a Dutch couple at mealtimes.

While everyone else set off up the valley on the more direct track to Col D’Aussois, we decided to retrace our tracks and go via the Cirque du Genepy. It was rather chilly and there was frost on the ground. The path rose steeply beside a river, gushing down the hillside. After about an hour, we were in the cirque below the glacier.

The path then turned back in the direction we’d come until we could see the refuge again, a long way below us in the valley. A bit further on, we could also see Pralognan, and even Mont Blanc in the distance.

As we contoured the hillside on a pleasant track, the views got better and better.

Finally, after about 3 hours, we met the track which had come directly from the refuge. At this point the path became quite steep and gradually got more difficult underfoot. The climb was an unrelenting 700m through boulder fields and over scree. I found it very difficult and tiring, particularly as the sun was high in the sky by now. It seemed to be taking forever, especially as I kept stopping for a rest!

I was very pleased when we reached the col, at a height of 2914m, after a further 2 hours… a good time, considering the signs had said 2.5 hours. John wanted to ascend a further 100m to the Pointe de l’Observatoire, but I had a headache and was feeling tired, so I decided to stay at the col. it was very cold and windy so I pulled on my waterproofs to keep me warm while I took some photographs, then I settled down in a stone shelter, which was quite warm and cosy in the sunshine, out of the wind.

John didn’t take long to get to the view point and back, having run much of the way, particularly on the descent. We then had some food before setting off downhill to the refuge where we’re staying tonight.

The downhill section was steep and quite rocky, but didn’t cause us any problems so long as we followed the yellow lines on the rocks. We were glad of our poles again, as we picked our way through the rocks, following a pretty stream. We were pleased to see a few marmots, running around on the hillside.

It was a relief to see the curved roof of the refuge at the head of the valley, on the edge of a grassy green plain. We checked in and did our household tasks… showers, washing and charging our devices. Luckily the dormitory has 5 pairs of bunk beds, rather than one long bed. We’ve now had drink and a tart, while we write the blog and wait for dinner.

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