A very nice walk, direct from our chalet, runs diagonally up through the woods opposite and then traverses across at around 1700m before descending along a good track to meet the road to Arolla. After crossing the road, the path then descends to the riverside, near Les Haudères, before returning to Evolène. The walk gives fabulous views of the Dent Blanche and Veisivis, as well as the alpage villages of Villaz, La Sage and La Forclaz.
Due to erosion and the possibility of rock-falls along the original path, the authorities have erected a huge (133m long) suspension bridge to by-pass the danger area. This has re-opened a wonderful walk from La Luette along the far side of the valley from the main road, where any number of plants and butterflies can be observed, including the quite rare Apollo butterfly. It’s also meant to be a mountain biking route, but with many undulations and some very narrow ledges, one with chains (see pic), it’s a very fit and brave biker who tackles it !
There are many places in the alps where you can get ‘up close and personal’ with a glacier. But none can be as easy to walk to as the Glacier du Mont Miné in the Ferpècle valley. After parking your car at the end of the valley, it’s an almost flat walk to the base of the glacier. On a warm day you can observe the huge forces of nature at work, as chunks of ice fall or, more likely, are pushed off the edge of the cliff by the ever moving glacier behind. A further scramble and climb up some rock slabs to the left also reveals a fine view of the Ferpècle glacier. This glacier is often used as a training ground for would-be mountaineers to hone their crampon and ice axe skills (as I did a few years ago) under the watchful eye of a professional mountain guide. Indeed, today we have 2 guests, Clive and his son Elliot, doing exactly that with Frost Guiding.
On Wednesday you could not get a better day for walking. The sky was blue and the temperature was perfect. Also you could not get a much better walk than the one from Arolla to the Aiguilles Rouges hut. The views are simply stunning and on this particular day I was lucky enough to see a family of chamois and a marmot, though it scurried away as I approached with the camera.
The Swiss love their mountain biking and twice each year Evolène plays host to two big events; The Raid Evolènard and The Grand Raid. Today it was the turn of The Raid Evolènard and, this year, it incorporated the Swiss VTT marathon championships. The main event was 62.5 kilometres long, with 2660 metres of ascent. For more sane people, there were shorter distances of 35 and 24 kilometres, plus some races for the children at 3, 6 and 8.5-17 kilometres. I watched the start and dashed up to Lac d’Arbey (@1780m) expecting to see the leaders coming through, but, incredibly, they had already climbed 700 metres (to 2,000 metres) and covered more than 13 kilometres in the 35 minutes it took me to get there ! Having done some mountain biking myself, I take my hat off to the strength and stamina of these guys and gals. They must be incredibly fit. Remember, this is all at altitude. I also had a little time to take some other pictures during my return to Evolène.
On Thursday Jude and I decided to go for lunch in Les Haudères. (The Hotel Veisivi does a wonderful Rösti géant !) To work up an appetite, we took the path along the river Borgne, stopping frequently to take some photos. As ever, Jude spotted something that I would never have seen, which was a Dipper hopping between the rocks in the river. Not only that, but she captured a beautiful photograph, as you can see below. (I’ve also decided to add a watermark, so I hope it doesn’t interfere with the images too much).
Although the forecast was for a bright, sunny day, we woke to the clouds clinging to the tops of the mountains. Undeterred and hoping it would clear, I set off to walk to the Col du Torrent and Sassenaire (@3253m), . As I reached the Mayens de Cotter it was obvious the clouds were not going to go away in a hurry, so Walk no. 28 immediately became Walk no. 14 as I traversed across the alpage at around 2,000m to Mayens de Tsate, before descending to La Forclaz and Les Haudères. The lack of mountain top views was more than made up for by the huge variety of flowers, birds and butterflies on display.
Let’s be honest, a chalet is not really a chalet in the summer unless there’s some flowers around it. Although we bought some hanging baskets last week, we had some spare troughs. So my morning has been spent potting plants and putting them in the brackets on the balcony. All we need now is the sun to shine to show them off at their best…
So, we’re back home in Switzerland after our travels and there’s no time to lose in my quest to ‘map’ 30 walks in and around the Val d’Hérens. Yesterday was number 11 in my list, which is a direct, downhill walk from Arolla to Chalet Les Criquets in Evolène. You may notice that I had a little more success this time in finding the names of the plants and butterflies, either via my books or online.