The difficulty is in knowing where to split this stage. We got to La Flégère in time for an early lunch and wanted to push on, hoping to reach Bellachat. But with temperatures soaring to the mid 30s we called it a day at Plan Praz and stayed in the valley.
Diary – Thursday July 22
Tré-le-champ – Chalet des Chéserys – La Flégère – Charlanon – Plan Praz
The forecast wasn’t wrong – we woke early to a blue skies and sunshine. It was already heating up so we left Tré-le-champ early to get some distance in the relative coolness of the morning and walked back towards the Col des Montets.
The path into the Aiguille Rouges Natural Park starts on the other side of the road and doubles back through the forest in the direction of Chamonix. The path climbs gently, but it was hard work and it was already very hot despite the shade of the trees. The path wound up towards some cliffs that form a barrier across the hillside. Just opposite the Aiguille d’Argentière the path met the cliffs at the bottom of a large chimney (gully). Next to the chimney there are some ladders attached to the rock leading to a ledge up above. We tightened our rucksacks and climbed up. Having reached the ledge we saw a mixture of ladders and wooden steps leading upwards through the cliffs and slabs above. They were tiring but we gained altitude quickly and soon we were at a large cairn on a balcony path. The views across the valley were stupendous.
Moving on, the path descends to the Chalet des Chéserys and then contours round, heading towards the cable car station at La Flégère. The views got better and better and the walk was easy but it was getting hotter. A final steep rise saw us reach La Flégère where we had an early lunch looking up the Mer de Glace toward the Grandes Jorasses. It was strange to think that we on the other side of them only 4 days ago.
When we left the cable car station the thermostat showed 36 degrees and it seemed be getting even hotter. We continued, contouring around the hillside along the balcony path, admiring the views of the Chamonix Aiguilles and in an hour we reached the clearing of La Charlanon. We were starting to suffer from the heat and our pace was slowing – at this rate we that we wouldn’t finish today.
The path continued contouring, the air continued getting hotter and one hour later we were climbing the last steep slope to the cable car station at Plan Praz. The heat was proving very difficult so we phoned ahead to Bellachat for accommodation, only to find it was full. This lead to quick and drastic change of plan – we decided that we would stop for the day and take the cable car down to Chamonix and a room for the night there.
Tomorrow morning we could take the cable car back up again and pick up where we left off. We were so satisfied with our plan that we sat on the terrace of Plan Praz for a couple of hours soaking up the sun. Then it was quick ride down to the valley floor and find a hotel. The forecast on the Bureau des Guides said good weather with possibility of showers in the afternoon, so we knew we would be able to finish tomorrow.