We had planned to take the high variante over Fenetre d’Arpette but the weather forecast was for low cloud, rain, and low temperatures. So we had to be sensible and take the easier route over Alp Bovine.
It was dry and quite bright as we left Champex Lac.
We walked beside the Lac
and then through some pleasant Alpine meadows before ascending through some rough pastures into the woods. The path climbs steeply for what felt like a very long time. It was just the usual 600m to 700m but there were some very steep sections. The hillside was very wet from the recent rain and a one point the path was a river.
As we gained height we once again were enveloped by cloud
and a little higher – wet cloud. It was quite eerie hearing the clanging of the cow bells through the mist and hoping that a large bovine wasn’t suddenly going to come stampeding out of the clouds.
Alp Bovine was reached with some relief and we hustled indoors for hot chocolate.
This was quite a primitive affair as refuges go but it was warm and dry. As usual we were ahead of most people having got going at 07:30 and as we left, the hut became much busier.
Once outside we noticed there had been a sharp drop in temperature and the rain had become ‘stiff’. We had a further 60m of ascent from the refuge to Collet Portalo at 2040m and we pressed on quickly to get over the col and down out of the clouds.
It was mostly downhill along a pleasant woodland path and eventually we emerged at Col de la Forclaz 1527m.
The TMB poster showed that we were almost to the right hand end of the linear illustration of the route with only two proper hills left to climb.
We continued along a path beside the Bisse du Trient.
This is just one of 200 Swiss irrigation channels created in the Swiss Valais. These bisses were used to carry glacial water to cultivated fields far below.
We were booked in at Auberge du Mont Blanc at Trient which was a village at the bottom of the cliff we were standing on. As we made the steep descent we spared a thought for those poor TMB trekkers who had this ascent at the end of the day if they were staying at the refuge at Col de la Forclaz.
We had a fine view of the pink church from our room at the Auberge.