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Tré-le-Champ to Planpraz via Lac Blanc

Hiking trail · Rhône-Alpes
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Lac Blanc (Swimming Not Necessary!)
    / Lac Blanc (Swimming Not Necessary!)
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Dramatic Mountain Backdrop
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / The Aiguillette d’Argentiere
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Climbing Ladders
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Ladders Climb the Steep Cliffs
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Narrow Ledges
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 2800 2600 2400 2200 2000 1800 1600 1400 1200 12 10 8 6 4 2 km La Flégère Gondola Top Station Tré-le-Champ Bus Stop Refuge Lac Blanc Ladders Plan Praz Refuge de la Flégère

The penultimate day and the Tour du Mont Blanc is determined to leave you with a lasting memory! Today’s views are enchanting as you climb from Tré-le-Champ over ladders and then traverse the famous Balcon Sud to finish in Planpraz, from where a gondola will drop you into Chamonix.

difficult
14 km
7:00 h
1391 m
802 m

After the spectacle of the last 1-2 weeks you may find it impossible to believe that the Tour du Mont Blanc has saved its best for last but today you embark on the walk’s wonderful finale along the Grand Balcon Sud. The way the path clings precipitously to the upper slopes of the valley with, in places, fixed metal ladders and handrails enabling you to traverse the most featureless and vertical rock slabs is exhilarating while also providing an unobstructed view down into the Chamonix Valley and across to the peaks of the massif. Throughout the whole Tour du Mont Blanc never have the glaciers, rocky spires and snowy peaks felt as vivid and near as they do today.

As mentioned above, this route involves ladders and sections with narrow ledges and steep slopes that may be unsuitable for those who suffer from vertigo. You can avoid this by taking the variant via Col des Montets, but take a look at the photos for an idea of what the ladders involve and to put any fears at rest.

You will have stayed in Argentiere or Chamonix the night before. To return to Tré-le-Champ, you might need to take a bus to Montruc as this route runs more regularly, and then walk to Tré-le-Champ which takes 10-15 minutes. Full bus schedule available here; https://chamonix.montblancbus.com/en/bus-lines

From Planpraz it is recommended to take the Planpraz gondola (payable locally) down into Chamonix. Buy a return ticket to allow you to head up the following day and continue hiking towards Les Houches. Be aware that the final gondola descent is generally around 16:30; if you miss this it is a long walk down. Full information available here: https://www.chamonix.com/lifts,88,en.html

 

Author’s recommendation

Enjoy a hearty lunch at the Refuge du Lac Blanc, enjoying the reflections of the mountain peaks in the still glacial waters.

If you would like to avoid the ladder section we would recommend this variation of the walk - http://your.macsadventure.com/s/Cgonr 

outdooractive.com User
Author
Josiah Skeats
Updated: February 13, 2020

Difficulty
difficult
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2359 m
Lowest point
1420 m

Safety information

 his route involves ladders and sections with narrow ledges and steep slopes that may be unsuitable for those who suffer from vertigo if you would like to avoid these here is an alternativehttp://your.macsadventure.com/s/Cgonr  

There are several river crossings. There are always stepping-stones available but these may be slippery, and especially when wet. Take extra caution on these crossings.

Some of the path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.

There are some exposed edges; be sure to read instructions carefully, stick to the main path, and don’t wander close to the edge. Use handrails where provided.

In early spring/summer there may still be patches of snow. Walk around where it is possible, and otherwise place your feet carefully and use walking poles if you have them.

This route is above 2,200 metres so bear in mind you may feel a shortness of breath and additional muscle fatigue associated with the altitude.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Lac Blanc

The walk to Lac Blanc is one of the Chamonix classics and so you might find these footpaths a little more trafficked than other sections of the Tour du Mont Blanc. It is however deserving of this attention; just wait until you stand on the shores of this glacial lake at 2,352 metres, spot the craggy peaks reflected in its blue waters, and gaze at the dramatic panorama of the Mont Blanc massif.

 

Aiguilles Rouge

The Aiguilles Rouge translates as the ‘Red Peaks’ due to its presence of iron-rich rocks, and is a separate massif on the opposite side of the valley to Mont Blanc. Due to the significant biodiversity in this area, the Aiguilles Rouge National Nature Reserve was formed to protect it in 1974. Ibex, chamois and golden eagle all call this region ‘home’ and if you keep your eyes peeled, you might get a lucky sighting.

 

Transport 

Bus from Chamonix to Tré-le-Champ: A regular shuttle bus operates from Argentière to Col des Montets. Take this and alight at Tré-le-Champ. Enquire at the tourist office or your hotel for timetables.

Le Flégère – Les Praz de Chamonix Telepherique: Check the up to date information here -  http://www.chamonix.com/flegere-index,83,en.html 

Approx €15:00 for a single ticket (then take the shuttle bus to central Chamonix)

Plan Praz – Chamonix Telepherique - Check the up to date information here - http://www.chamonix.com/planpraz-brevent,82,en.html 

Approx €15.00 single ticket from Plan Praz.

 

Food and Drink

Between Tré-le-Champ and Planpraz there are few opportunities to buy food or drink so be sure to bring enough provisions with you.

You will reach Refuge du Lac Blanc after 4.8 kilometres, and Refuge La Flégère after 8.2 kilometres, both of which serve food and drink. In terms of the surrounding atmosphere, the Refuge du Lac Blanc cannot be beaten as a place to stop.

Start

Tré-le-Champ Bus Stop (1419 m)
Coordinates:
DD
45.996649, 6.926504
DMS
45°59'47.9"N 6°55'35.4"E
UTM
32T 339435 5095765
w3w 
///splays.endorsed.blissful

Destination

Planpraz Gondola

Turn-by-turn directions

To reach Tré-le-Champ bus stop from Argentiere or Chamonix, you may need to catch a bus to Montruc (as this bus service runs more regularly) and then follow directions for the 10-15 minute walk to Tré-le-Champ.

From Tré-le-Champ bus stop the path continues across the road, heading uphill through the forest and following signs to Le Lac Blanc and Aiguillette d’Argentiere. After climbing through the forest you will walk below vertical cliffs on your right where there may be rock climbers. At 2.1km you will pass the impressive pillar of Aiguillette d’Argentiere, after which the path continues over a series of fixed ladders; (If you wish to skip the ladders continue straight on the path which is leading to La Flegere) take care when climbing these. At 2.8km you will reach a tall cairn (pile of rocks), and from here bear left; you will be able to see a wooden chalet in the mountains ahead which is the Refuge du Lac Blanc.

You will pass two lakes on your right, and then close beside a third lake (Lacs de Chéserys), after which the path will bear right and begin heading uphill towards the Refuge du Lac Blanc. Having admired Lac Blanc and sampled the tasty goodies from the refuge, the path will continue straight on and begin to head steeply downhill with several cairns to guide you. As you reach two large boulders at 4.6km the path will split into three; choose the middle path that continues straight and heads downhill. You are following signs to La Flégère and Les Praz.

At 6km you will walk on a long boardwalk section and then the path will head downhill towards a small reservoir and chairlift. As you approach this ski area there is a confusing network of gravel roads, though it is well signposted – keep following signs to La Flégère and check the map regularly. At 8.0km, below La Flégère restaurant, bear right from the gravel road, following the sign for Planpraz. This path will then head through woodland and away from the skiing infrastructure, on a narrow path with sensational views across to the Mont Blanc massif. Occasionally there are steep edges so walk carefully and use the handrail where one is provided. At 8.8km, continue walking along the scree slope; some of the rocks have dots of red paint to guide you.

At 9.9km as you again approach a ski area and a confusing network of gravel roads, continue along the footpath following the sign to Croisement du sentier, and then after 200 metres follow the signs to Planpraz, ignoring the left turn to Chamonix. By now you will begin to see a collection of huts on the grassy ridge ahead, and the footpath will contour along the valley heading steadily uphill towards them.

As you reach the La Parsa chairlift, follow the gravel road that winds downhill and towards Planpraz. From here you can catch a gondola into Chamonix. Full lift information available here: https://www.chamonix.com/lifts,88,en.html

 

Note


all notes on protected areas

Coordinates

DD
45.996649, 6.926504
DMS
45°59'47.9"N 6°55'35.4"E
UTM
32T 339435 5095765
w3w 
///splays.endorsed.blissful
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendations for this region:

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Equipment

Such is the way of Alpine hiking that you need to be prepared for all seasons and weathers; sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required, as is plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.

Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

This walk is isolated with few opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.


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Difficulty
difficult
Distance
14 km
Duration
7:00h
Ascent
1391 m
Descent
802 m

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