Tour des Ruans (9 days, 7 days of hiking):
August 20 - 28
Price: US$ 2100 (CAD$ 2200)
Accommodation: Upscale hotel*** for the first and last night, Mountain huts and mountain inns throughout the trek.
Some mountain huts have double rooms, most of them will have dormitory style accommodation. Most have hot showers.
Nestled between the canton of the Valais in Switzerland and the Haut-Giffre massif in France, this seven-day walk will take you far from the summer crowds starting just 20 minutes from downtown Chamonix. The complete circumnavigation takes five days, but we add two warm-up and training days in the Chamonix valley. With an average altitude gain of over 1000m (3'281 ft) daily along breathtaking ridges, this walk is not for the beginner. We take no more than four persons per trip due to the nature of the terrain.
Each night is spent in an alpine hut, with full board. We do not have a support vehicle so everything else must be carried. The lighter the better! A complete equipment list is provided along with detailed itinerary upon request. Starting in Vallorcine, France, we spend seven days working our way around the massif with exceptional panoramic views of the Mt Blanc chain and across to the giants of Switzerland such as the Matterhorn and Weisshorn. From the summit of Mont Buet we can see far across to the Jura and the Ecrins massif.
Daily sightings of ibex are very common since so few walkers ever set foot into this region. A protected species after near-extinction due to over hunting, they have made a remarkable comeback. The trails are often unmarked and we often spend part of the day choosing our own path to the next hut. On several days, chains, cables and ladders are in place to make the delicate passages easier to manage. Mountaineering equipment is not required.
Besides the exceptional beauty of this mineral landscape, the history of this area will be a highlight of the trip. We will explain how smugglers and customs officials played a cat and mouse game during many years, and how France and Switzerland once went to battle in these very hills and 120 lives were lost. This is where the famous guide, and hero of the Mont Blanc, Jacques Balmat mysteriously disappeared whilst hunting for gold that drove men so mad. His body has never been found, nor has the gold.
This walk will also take us back millions of years to when an ocean covered the Alps and dinosaurs roamed the beaches. Weighing between 300 to 400 kilos, these herbivores have left their mark, more than 800 footprints in the rock that is such a silent reminder of our planet's past.
Day 1: Transfer from Geneva airport to the Chamonix valley, briefing and welcome dinner.
Day 2: Day-hike in Chamonix to assess abilities and to train specific hiking skills (walking on snow, ridge walking, etc).
Day 3: The next morning we walk up to the Berard Refuge, where we will spend the night.
Day 4: From the Refuge de Bérard to the summit of Mont Buet, then down to the Lac Plan du Buet, the night will be spent in the Chalet Hotel du Grenairon. A long day, following ridges, moraines and using cables and chains.
Day 5: From the Chalet Hotel du Grenairon, this will be the longest day of the circumnavigation before we reach the Refuge de la Vogealle.
Day 6: The next morning we start heading towards the Dents du Midi massif, over snowfields and moraines, until we reach the Auberge de Salanfe.
Day 7: The last day brings us back to the Emosson Lake, our last overnight stay in a Swiss mountain hut.
Day 8: From the Emosson Dam, we head down to the French side, to Argentière and back to the busy Chamonix Valley.
Day 9: Transfer from the Chamonix valley to Geneva airport.
Accommodation: Upscale hotel** for the first and last night, Mountain huts and mountain inns throughout the trek.
* All our guides are internationally certified, and have an in-depth knowledge of the area they are guiding in.
* Most guides working for us in the Alps live in the Chamonix valley on a permanent basis, where the mountains are both recreation and their livelihood.
* All of our guides are professionals, and are skilled at transmitting their tremendous knowledge of the region/country to you.
* All our guides speak fluently English and at least another foreign language. Wherever you go with us, your guide will be able to communicate at ease, enabling him/her to take care of any problem/special wishes that might occur.
Trip Difficulty: Level 4 (From 1=easy to 5=very strenuous)
Strenuous walking on mainly marked trails with some cross-country hiking. Scree slopes, boulder-hopping, snow patches, ridge-walking with some exposure. 6-10 hours of daily walking. 1350m (4100ft) maximum elevation gain per day. Day-pack and occasional overnight pack. Maximum altitude in the Alps: 3000m (10000ft), in the Himalaya 5400m (16000ft).
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Europe France Switzerland Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Mountain/Rock Climbing