Lac Blanc and Southern Aiguilles Rouges Traverses
Key information: Lac Blanc and Southern Aiguilles Rouges Traverses
- The justifiably popular upper south-eastern slopes of the Aiguilles Rouges have a wide range of thrilling walks.
- Take in the ravishing Lac Blanc with its unforgettable views across to Mont Blanc, or the long, contour-hugging Grand Balcon Sud, or traverse the higher slopes up to the Col and famous needles. Plan to avoid crowds in high season.
- These are serious mountains. Come prepared.
- Walkopedia rating84
- Natural interest15
- Human interest5
- Negative points2
- Total rating84
- Note: Negs: Crowding on most popular routes
- Length: Variable
- Maximum Altitude: 2,525m
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
The rough, steep, serrated Aiguilles Rouges can be divided into their remarkable south-eastern slopes, dealt with here, and the emptier, wilder rest.
- Lac Blanc: a 3-4hr trail to a beautiful pair of milky blue lakes with classic views across to the vast Mer de Glace glacier and the soaring Aiguille Vert sections of the Mont Blanc massif. This is the Aiguilles best known walk, and commensurately crowded in high season. The trail begins at the top of the La Flegere cable car, and heads steadily upwards. Walk back along a superb ridge between lovely tarns, south-eastward to the Grand Balcon walk, and return to Flegere. (Better still, walk this circuit in reverse.) Stay a night in the slightly cramped refuge but book well ahead.
The energetic and adventurous can hike a further 400 steep metres to the Col de Belvedere, high behind the lakes, for a thrilling view down over the wildly broken scenery of the central Aiguilles. Magnificent, but take care of the ice fields you may need to climb (friends fell through up to their waists but then descended safe stretches on their bottoms).
The views of Mont Blanc are usually best early or late in the day, so lingering here for the night is hugely worthwhile although the refuge gets crowded (it only sleeps 30) and needs to be booked well ahead.
Watch out for the tame ibex around the refuge.
The direct trail from the Flegere cable car takes around 1 hours. A preferable approach is along the contours on the TMB and then cutting back along a spectacular ridge with views over lovely little tarns.
- Grand Balcon Sud contour trails. You can walk for miles along the contours at around 2,000m, easy(ish) walks with superb views across the valley to Mont Blanc and lovely Aiguilles scenery above, met by cable cars but beware crowding, as these are also the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Tour du Pays de Mont Blanc trails.
(The stretch north-east from Flegere is in our view the best. Picnic by the stream below the Lac Blanc cliffs.)
- High traverses: there are numerous higher paths that traverse the mountainsides just below the needles themselves. These are even better walking, and less crowded, than the Balcon walks. We walked from Lac Blanc to the high LIndex cable car (easy way to reach the high ground), to the spectacular Col de la Gliere, with its wondrous views west over the broken central Aiguilles range, then round behind the crazily serrated high ridge, descending a thrilling spine back down to the Balcon, thence back to Flegere, a tough but outstanding 5 hour walk. An alternative is described by Cicerone in its Lac Cornu and Lac Noirs walk.
- The climb to Le Brevent (2525m) is also recommended: good and relatively unpopulated walking, but has a cable car (and thus, crowds) on top. Walks from this peak are superb.
For further walks in the area and detailed practical information, see our Aiguilles Rouges page.
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COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS
Posted on: 05/05/2013
Great web site. Can't wait to go to Europe again and try some of your suggested trails. I hiked the Lac Blanc trail a couple of years ago in September with temps. in the 60's. Absolutely breath taking and it should be on every hiker's bucket list. I've enclosed a few photos I though you might enjoy. They were taken by me and you have my permission to use them on the website. It would be great if there were mileages charts for the hikes. For example. The distance starting at Index's chair lift at the top to Lac Blanc. Sincerely, Jeff Black
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