The weekend of August 1st Benoit took off to go to a conference in Berlin, but what a great idea! No ? Well, August 1st is the Swiss national holiday, and thus it is quite a scandal to go to Germany on that day! 🙂
But I reassure you, I have decided to compensate a little for my man’s crucial lack of Swissness! Thus, I took advantage of a proposal from a great group of friends to leave for a 100% Swiss weekend: a hike in Valais with a night in a hut next to a glacier and watching the fires and fireworks of August 1st in the mountains.
Departure of the hike in Brunet
The hike looked perfect: a group of 10 friends, superb landscapes, a breathtaking glacier, genepi and limoncello in the bags and a hut booking!
But then it was without counting on the surprise guest of the weekend: the rain! Accompanied by her friend the fog these two briefly made us hesitate to leave!
But we didn’t let ourselves be discouraged, we just made a small route change!
Initially, We were planning to leave Lourtier. That is about 250m lower in the valley in terms of altitude difference. But in view of the more than capricious weather and also because we knew that the weather would probably spoil even more in the afternoon, we opted for a shortened route. The departure of our hike was thus set to be from the Brunet Hut!
The Avouillons pass
About 20 minutes after the beginning of the hike there is a first crossing. Here hikers can decide to reach the Panossière hut by going through “La Maye”, a path that runs along the mountainside and allows them to reach the hut in about 2h15.
The other alternative is to reach the cabin via the Col des Avouillons. A great alternative a little sportier to enjoy a beautiful view… well… in theory! We decided to opt for the second option, but let’s say that the view was not quite there! Fortunately, the Genepi and Haribo’s distribution were there!:)
La passerelle de Corbassière
The descent from the Col de Avouillons is quite steep, but the path is well marked. As you descend, you start to see the glacier as a backdrop. Well… in theory!
We continue to descend until we start to set foot on the morena, we advance in the stones until we reach the footbridge of Corbassière.
The footbridge was built by the Bagnes region in 2014 and is 190m long! Might as well explain that this is a small challenge for people prone to vertigo….
Before the crossing we decided to give ourselves some energy and take a little picnic break while enjoying the view of the glacier. During the meal the fog decided to make its big comeback, giving a super mystical side to the place!
The weather was deteriorating quickly, so we set off again for the last 40 minutes of climbing before reaching the hut. We really managed the timing well! Barely installed in the cabin, the rain has made its comeback! Phew! Phew!
A night in a hut: celebrate August 1st in the mountains
The end of the afternoon was not the most sporting…. We spent the day watching the rain fall and watching the wet hikers enter the comfortable common room. On our side, the time was at the aperitif and at the jass games, a 100% Swiss card game!
The evening then followed its course with a good meal, a few bottles of red wine, but above all a great atmosphere! The hut managers had planned a big fire and some fireworks to celebrate August 1st as it should be.
Fortunately Mother Nature was merciful because the rain stopped at around 9pm. And we were able to enjoy the late evening admiring the fire while enjoying a good mulled wine.
The evening will have ended with a wild session of moonlight singing. Our slightly windy voices resounded in the valley to the tunes of “Aux champs Elysée” or the “Lacs du Connemara”.
- The hut is open from April to October and is located just next to the Corbassière glacier. It can only be reached by foot. The cabin is equipped to accommodate up to 100 people
- The night costs CHF 73 or about 65€, and this includes the night in a dormitory, the evening meal (soup, dish and dessert) as well as breakfast.
- It is advisable to book your night in advance.
- More information : The FBX Panossière website
A short tour on the Corbassière glacier
Located at the foot of the Grand Combin massif, this glacier is 9.8 km long and nearly 18km2 in surface (for now)!
The guards of the Panossière hut have marked out a path on the glacier, so when the weather doesn’t play too crazy you have the possibility to go and discover it a little closer!
Basically, we had planned to do this tour the day before, but given the thick fog and rain it was just impossible! Because when it rains the path turns into a giant ice rink and let’s say it’s still better to have a minimum of visibility to avoid cracks in the ice (sic).
When we woke up the weather was radiant! Blue sky, no cloud on the horizon and the first rays that illuminate the superb Corbassière glacier. So part of the team decided to take a walk on the glacier while the others were enjoying the sunny terrace of the Panossière hut.
- The walk on the glacier is well marked and open to all, good walking shoes are still recommended.
- It takes about 1h30 to do the walk.
The Otanes Pass
After a good breakfast and a short tour on the glacier, our fine team set off again towards the Otanes Pass. From the cabin it is a more or less steep an ascent of 300m (altitude difference) for which it took us about forty minutes. Nothing like that to finish digesting the genepi and limoncello from the day before, I tell you!
The steps are difficult and the breath a little short, but the reward at the top is worth it! A superb panorama on the glacier but also on the plain still under the clouds!
The rest of the hike is the toughest part for the knees. We start from the Otanes pass at 2864m to reach the Mauvoisin dam hotel located at 1850m! The descent is steep but fortunately the path is well done. Oh and if you are in the area, don’t forget to look up from time to time, the area is full of marmots, ibexes and little edelweiss! 🙂
If you are sporty it is possible to do this hike in one day. For this you will need to allow about 7h30 of walking time.
But if like us you are a group that wants to enjoy a little bit of the great atmosphere of the hut and discover a little bit of the glacier, then it is possible to divide the hike over 2 days. Allow about 4 hours of walking on the first day, and 3h30 on the second.
In total the hike has about 1400m of positive altitude difference and 1200m of negative altitude difference.
You will find a map of the hike over here
Or see below the route we followed:
The hike begins either at Lourtier or at Brunet’s cabinhut and ends at the Mauvoisin dam. From the dam there is a postal bus that passes 4 times a day to take you back to Lourtier or continue towards Le Châble, from where there are connections to Martigny.
Be careful if you want to leave from Brunet: don’t forget to leave at least one car in Lourtier… Otherwise you will have to walk back up to Brunet at the end of the hike! 🙂
There you go, you know a little more about this great hike! I strongly recommend the 2-day option, if only to enjoy the atmosphere in the hut or to go for a walk on the glacier!
If you know of any nice huts in Switzerland, don’t hesitate to share in the comments! We still have a few weekends left before the end of the summer… 🙂