Walk 11: Thyon Ridge Walk to Mont Rouge (Distance: 8 km and 600m ascent)
Although the initial climb (of around 300m) is quite strenuous, the effort is well worth it, as the views from this ridge are exceptional. An indicator board, just after the L’Etherolla ski lift, points out all of the peaks that are visible (on a clear day), which includes the Mont Blanc massif, the Jungfrau and the Matterhorn.
Note that longer options are available by continuing to Mont Loéré or Crepon Blanc. (See section 5 and alternative map below).
- From the Thyon 2000 public car park (free in summer) take the short path behind parking bay 166 and then turn right at the track. As the track nears the end of the buildings, you will see a wigwam. Follow the track to the left of the wigwam and under 4 or 5 ski lifts as it bends to the left and under a bridge. 50m further on there is a hut and a signpost pointing up towards Essertse and Ochera.
- You can then either:
a) follow this track under a tow lift until you see a red and white arrow on the 3rd green support post. Turn left here and follow the track as it S bends its way up to the right. You will see a wide ski track going straight up the ridge (to the left of a concrete bunker). You can go directly up this but there is a zigzag path to the left which is slightly easier. Alternatively, (as highlighted on the map),
b) continue around to the left (passing a restaurant terrace on the left) and then make your way up a path to the right. This meanders up the left side of the slope,
But your objective, whichever way you choose to do it, is to keep going upwards, to the top of that (north facing) slope.
- Eventually the path levels off at a hut/café (only open in winter). To the right there’s a ski ramp and a small hut at the top of the ski tow. Continue forwards for another 100m and then take the flat track to the right of the ridge in front. This soon reaches the L’Etherolla ski lift (@2,415m). You will now be able to see the route (& 6 or 7 peaks) running off into the distance slightly to the right. However pause a while and take in the view. Each mountain peak on the horizon is highlighted on an information board just beyond the ski lift.
- The path continues over the first peak (La Tsermetta) before dropping down to the 2nd, Mont Carré, where you can go over the top, or take the path to the right hand side. At the far side there is a path which descends to the left to go back to Thyon (see point 7), but it’s worth pressing on to Mont Rouge, where there is another return path, just beyond the peak and to the left, which descends to the two ponds and back to Thyon. (See 7).
If you are feeling fit and would like to extend your walk, the next peak (Mont Loéré) requires a little scrambling (up and down) and again there is a return option on the far side. Indeed this path can be used if you retrace your steps from Crepon/Greppon Blanc. Continue along, or very near to, the ridge until you reach Crepon/Greppon Blanc, which is easily recognizable by its named placard (& antenna). Note that it is possible to continue along the ridge, but the path is very indistinct and there are several rocky outcrops to negotiate.
- Return by retracing your steps to any of the path options mentioned above, (or by contouring around to the left “off piste” whilst maintaining height, until you reach a suitable path. The 2 ponds are a good indicator of the direction to take).
- Just after the 2 ponds there is a wide swathe of paths leading up to a signpost. It shows the direction to take (which is more or less straight on) to Thyon. Follow this clear path until it meets a wide track, where you continue in the same direction. As you approach Thyon, you will pass under a ski lift. The path cuts off and down to the right, across a winding track, to the buildings (café on the terrace). The track on the far left side of the buildings will take you back to the car park. Alternatively you can wander through the complex, where there are some interesting wooden chainsaw carvings in the central ‘square’, then turn left as you emerge back to the car park.