Thursday, August 06, 2015

Hiking Les Deux Alpes

A quick report on our recent venture to hike in Les Deux Alpes.

We actually selected the above 31Km trail run because it looked doable despite the predicted 30 degrees C plus temperatures even at altitudes of over 2000 metres.

Well we had to try right?

We are staying in /Parking de la Passerelle/ which is an aire about 1Km below the town of les deux alpes.

The cost is 8 euros for parking and use of washroom facilities or 12 euros for 24 hours including electricity.

Where is Route 13 Red?
We went to the Visitors information centre and noted that we needed Route 13 Red.

We started walking but could not find any sign.  We did see Route 12 red start signs.

Walking Up and MTB's

 The photos don't show this but it is /bloody steep/.  I can't think of a more polite description

 Over 2 hours of walking and not a single serious hiker just an avalanche of Mountain Bikers (MTB)

 Deserted and Closed facilities everywhere.  Like a ghost town.

We keep walking but it's extremely hot and we are going thru our water supplies very quickly.  We found a first mountain spring and fully topped up.  This should be good for the next 2 hours or so.

At the Top then
Top of Les Deux Alpes

After a little over 3 hours of strenuous climbing we arrived at the peak.

This was over 2750 metres up and we had started at about 1600 metres.  It was tough but no comparison as to what was to follow

We spent about 30 minutes looking for hiking trails.  And eventually we found 12 Red.  No sign of 13 Red.

Yes: Marcus is looking uncomfortable and borderline scared because it looks like a steep drop on shale stones and multiple places where you will be walking on thin paths with sheer drops of hundreds of metres to one side.

 Route options / destinations.

The next hour was rather tricky to say the least but on the good news front we met about 3 hikers coming up which proved that there was a way down to civilisation.

The path let me say was pretty well marked in contrast to the way up this morning.  

The only humorous part of the first part of the descent was a sheep obstruction

We Ran out of Water
We had taken about 4 Energy bars each and A rucksack which included 2 water bottles.   About 8Km from the end of the hike we came accross a stream.

We drank and drank but failed to fill up our water bottles.

Big mistake in this 25 degree C+ climate.  Also Marcus had wrongly thought it would be a level walk home.  It was absolutely not.

As Km's continued the terrain got more treacherous: Sheer drops, loose rock, and a path that was steep down and then steep up. Steel guide wires were everywhere.

Marcus had set the Garmin GPS watch to /return to start/ so we knew the straight line distance home, and its bearing.  Just not the terrain.

The happy Ending and some lessons
We made it back eventually but there are some big buts

- We were total idiots not to fill up fully with water when we had the chance. 
- This is hiking 101, why didn't we?
- The signage on the trail was absolutely terrible on the ascent
- In summer all the upper resort restaurants or stations are just closed.  There are a few lifts operating but they are not manned and are there only to take up MTB riders. IE no water facilities
- We did not see any refuges or springs on the map, yet we did not take adequate precautions.  This was pretty dumb.
- We did RUN all parts of the route that we could, meaning any flat sections and any descent that was not too steep. Nevertheless it took us about 8 hours including stop-time for lunch.  Hmmm.  We really need to be faster

Anyway, we made it, but next time we'll be more rigorous.


Walking Les Deux Alpes
Breach of the Grand Creux