Plan de Bertol (Walk 31)

I added this to my list of recommended walks in the area, as I’d seen it in a guide book and I’m glad I did.  Although it’s only possible to reach the Cabane de Bertol (@3311m) by crossing the glacier (with the aid of crampons and a guide), I made it to the Glacier de Bertol sign just below (see Selfie picture – where, completely by chance, the sign pointed exactly at the Cabane !)  As ever, the views were amazing.

Cabane des Becs de Bosson (Walk 25)

Another day and another great walk to a cabane with fantastic views.  Although the day started well, a veil of cloud soon descended to take away the bright sunshine.  It did not detract however from the enjoyment of the walk and the thrill of finally spotting some Edelweiss in the wild.  Yesterday was the first time in nearly 10 years that I’ve seen any growing naturally – and there was loads of it !

It’s a fascinating plant, for example, did you know that :
– Edelweiss is not really a flower as such, but a set of 500 to a thousand tiny florets grouped in several heads (between 2 and 10 of them) surrounded by 5 to 15 white velvety leaves ?
– It originally comes from the Himalayas and was practically unknown until the late 19th century?
– In former times it was used as a popular remedy for diarrhoea ?
Sources: Swissinfo.ch and the Swiss Alpine Club’s “Our Alpine Flora” book.

Sassenaire (Walk 28)

This is without doubt my favourite walk in the area.  Possibly this is because it provides the physical challenge of starting in the valley floor at 1400 metres and rising to 3253 metres in one, almost continuous, climb. Not only that, but there are fabulous views to be had at every twist and turn as you stop to catch your breath !

Apollo 11

It seems fitting that I should add this post some 46 years to the day after the alleged first moon landing, but I’m glad to say this is not about space travel.  I blogged about the Apollo butterfly some 3 weeks ago now, saying how rare they are.  Indeed during my walks over the past 8 years, I think I’ve maybe seen 10 in total.  I’ve taken the odd photograph, but none of them have stood still long enough to get a decent picture.  That is, until number 11 landed…  Wikipedia says they are protected in many countries and on the IUCN Red List, so we’re quite lucky to have them flourishing on our doorstep (not literally you understand).  Judging by the vast number of different butterflies I saw the other day, July is clearly a good month for spotting them in the Swiss Alps and the Val d’Hérens in particular.

Upgraded site

After being advised that those rather annoying adverts were sneaking into my posts, (as a way of paying for my ‘free’ site), I’ve decided to upgrade and pay for my own domain of www.alittlebitoutoffocus.com (i.e. to drop the wordpress part).  The cynic in me wonders whether this might be part of the WordPress strategy.  If so, then it worked with me !  So I hope all my loyal followers out there, still receive notification of this post…  (I’d be grateful if someone could confirm with either a Comment or even a Like).

The following photos were taken during a short walk along the paths above our Chalet.

Col de Bréona (Walk 24)

Almost every time I go out for a walk there’s something new and surprising to see.  Yesterday it was a little green beetle which I’ve never seen before.  After a little research on the Web, I discovered it was a Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle.  By a strange coincidence, I also spotted a bird which, according to my Swiss Bird Guide is called a Northern Wheatear. See pictures of both below.

Cabane de la Tsa (Walk 21)

Mountain Huts. If there’s one topic guaranteed to create discussion amongst mountaineers, it’s this. Most often the conversation centres around the facilities, or lack of them, as they range from the very basic (i.e. outside toilets and only dripping water to clean your teeth) to excellent (with private dorms, hot showers and keg beer !)  The guardians are also a popular topic, as they vary from the downright surly to the pretty maid in her dirndl (as experienced by Pete and I during our visit to the La Tourche hut last year).  The guardienne at the Cabane de la Tsa falls into this latter category.  Although not wearing a dirndl, she went out of her way to make a visitor from Geneva feel very welcome (I thought they’d never stop chatting) and she had even baked a birthday cake for a little boy who was 6. (Either that or the candles were in short supply).  However, the one thing they all have in common is their position in the mountains, which is invariably stunning.  So even if you don’t stay for the night, it’s well worth the walk. (See also my recent post regarding the Aiguilles Rouges Hut).

Thyon Ridge (Walk 19)

Although the initial climb of this walk is quite strenuous, the effort is well worth it, as the views from this ridge are exceptional.  A panoramic indicator board near La Tsermetta shows all of the peaks that are visible. This includes the Mont Blanc massif, the Jungfrau and the Matterhorn.

Lake Derborence

Switzerland’s newest lake was formed in 1714 and 1749 after thousands of tons of rock came crashing down from the south face of Les Diablerets.  It formed a 2 kilometre-long natural barrier which gradually filled with water to form Lake Derborence. It’s a remote and beautiful spot, which lies on several hiking routes including the Tour des Muverans and the Via Alpina.

Pic d’Artsinol (Walk 22)

The Pic d’Artsinol is 2,998 metres high, so I guess it’s not surprising that the cross on the top is marked with a line saying 3,000m !  However, anyone ignoring this peak, due to its lack of 2 metres, would be missing out.  Like many ‘smaller’ mountains, it provides incredible views in all directions. Not only are the well known peaks of the Weisshorn, Zinalrothorn, Dent Blanche and Matterhorn visible to the east, but also, to the south west, there’s a fantastic view of the Grande Dixence Dam. At 285m (935 ft) high, it’s the tallest gravity dam in the world. In July and August, walkers can make the ascent a lot easier by taking the chairlift, from Lannaz (@1400m) to Chemeuille (@2100m).