Alpine Adventures {July}

Jul 15, 2013
This summer we were so excited to get to go to the Alps twice for hiking and enjoying the pure mountain air. Nothing's better than a week of outdoors with friends and family from faraway! You may add the gorgeous weather, long home-made dinners, and the happiness of waking up to the beautiful alpine view- works every time. This time around we had the pleasure of having our Aussie friends Stacey and Alan with us the entire week, and we got to some pretty nice hikes throughout the week. Here are the highlights of our little ventures around the ever-gorgeous Hautes-Alpes...

Les Ayes & Lac de l'Orceyrette

The annual high altitude grilling with bunch of food, light walking and generally just good times!

Summiting Mont Thabor (3178m)

Our first time getting to this peak was a fantastic all day hike under clear blue sky. We got some great panoramic views from the top, especially towards the glaciers and the national park's 4000 meters peaks. We walked on rocks, snow, rivers and flower fields- and even came across to couple of ibexes and marmots! Definitely one of our new favourites...

Vallée de la Clarée: Lac de Grand Ban, Lac Rond & Col des Cerces

Just a month before we had tried to get on this hike and reach the two big lakes with my parents. But the winter had been so long that we reached the snow limit really quickly. This time we managed to get all the way to the lakes and the little pass Col des Cerces. Denis went a little crazy, and dipped himself into one of the lakes...a lake that was still melting from ice! Brrr...

All in all, a beautiful and not too demanding hike- great for a recovery day...

Lacs de la Casse Blanche

This was the day we wanted to pick up some Génépi flowers to refill the liquor storage. For those who don't know, Génépi is a mountain liquor that locals have prepared themselves for ages. It's made of the flower of the plant, and nowadays there are some limitations as of what amount of flowers you're allowed to pick up. Anyhow, getting your hands on it requires getting to where the flowers grow, which is in rocky and steep slopes. So, only the real deals can and are willing to go for it! Let's just say that I wouldn't try it because even just watching Denis made me kinda nervous. But what wouldn't you do for a good digestive mountain drink!?  You can read more about picking up & preparing Génépi here .

Les Fonds de Cervieres- Col Malrif

It's true that you should start your day as early as possible in the mountains; not only is the air the freshest (afternoons are too hot to start climbing), but also the weather is at its best. Normally we don't need to worry about the latter one, because the Southern Alps are basically the sunniest part of France (read: almost 300 days of sun), but this time we knew the weather would close in later on. So we kicked off in the early morning while the air was still crisp, there were pretty drops of morning dew on plants, and we got some sunrays through the beautiful mist.

This place is actually a long valley that we often do with cross-country skies, and the spot where we started now is the furthest point of the track in the winter. The hike felt somewhat like being back in Iceland with all the greeneries, little waterfalls and clouds hanging really low. By the time we got to the ridge overlooking to the Italian side, we were in and above clouds, and the visibility was getting worse. We thought there was no point in pushing any further knowing we would probably not get any views from higher up, and so we turned back. And it’s good that we did, because just when we got back to our car it started to rain! Talking about good timing...


We always go on about our alpine adventures without mentioning one of the best part of those long hiking days: The post-hike relaxation. It's such an amazing feeling to kick off your shoes, take a long shower and enjoy a fresh beer in the late afternoon sun in our own backyard. And this backyard is literally the terrace with the views! And the mountain food...

We got to watch the 14th of July (Bastille Day or French National Day) fireworks above Briançon old town with the nocturnal mountain range as a backdrop...

And here's the view from 'above home' (like Denis calls this trail). It's a really good place to see the town and the valley of Serre Chevalier...


Mont Thabor
Starting point: Les Granges de la vallée Etroite 
Duration: 7-8 hours (our evaluation, based on normal tempo walking)
Difficulty: Long rather than technical
Heigh difference: >1400m
Summit: 3178m 
Read more here.

Col des Cerces
Starting point: Laval, Haute Vallée de la Clarée
Duration: 5 hours
Difficulty: Relatively easy
Read more here.

Lacs de la Casse Blanche
Starting point: Camping de Fontcouverte (roughly between Névache and Laval)
Duration: 5 hours
Difficulty: Some steep and rocky stretches

Les Fonds de Cervières - Col Malrif
Starting point: Refuge des Fonds
Duration: 4 hrs (till the pass and back)
Difficulty: Relatively easy
Views over Queyras Regional Park and to Italy


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