A few days ago I returned from a 10-day solo trip to the Vanoise Range in the French Alps. Normally I would have been completing the second year of my ‘International Mountain Leader’ training during those weeks, but due to shitty Belgian administration problems I have not been able to participate to the 2 final weeks of internships in the Alps… I decided to drive to the mountains anyway and try to make the best of it myself.
I’m in full preparation for my big Greenland expedition which starts in 3 weeks, so I don’t have time to write an extensive trip report now. Let’s just have a short look at where I went!
Tour de la Vanoise in 3 days
I started my trip with the most classic multi-day hike in the area, the Tour de la Vanoise – a splendid 75km loop around the Glaciers de la Vanoise. After a snow-rich spring and so early in the season, I did not encounter a lot of people yet on the trail, and snowfields where very abundant once above 2300m. On the way, I made a few detours to climb summits: the Pointe de la Réchasse (3212m) and the Pointe de l’Observatoire (3015m).
A night on Levanna Occidentale (3593m)
After a rest day, I crossed towards the Southeastern part of the Vanoise, parked the car in Bonneval-sur-Arc, and hiked up the beautiful upper part of the Arc valley towards Refuge du Carro. My final goal of the day was the summit of Levanna Occidentale (3593m), one of the highest peaks on the French-Italian border you can climb without glacier skills and equipment (and solo). Crampons and an ice axe are necessary however early in the season to cross the snowfields lingering between the Col des Pariotes and the summit.
I climbed the summit late in the afternoon in horrible wet snow. Cumulus clouds embraced the summit until shortly before sunset, but eventually the skies clearled about an hour before sunset to give a splendid spectacle with views ranging all the way to Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, Gran Paradiso, the Ecrins Range, and Monte Viso. I slept about 50m below the summit on an improvised bivy made with flat stones. The next morning I was on the summit again for a stunning sunrise!
Daytrips on Pointe de Lanserlia (2909m, Vanoise) and Dent des Crolles (2062m, Chartreuse)
During my transits, I made some bike tours and two shorter daytrips up Pointe de Lanserlia in the Vanoise, and the beautiful Dent des Crolles in the prealpine Chartreuse Range near Grenoble.
A 75km support run for Karel on Tour des Glaciers de la Vanoise
And, last but not least, I ran and speedhiked the magnificent Tour des Glaciers de la Vanoise (75km, 4200m D+) in a single go. It felt like the most origonal way to support Karel Sabbe on his epic Quest for the Crest expedition, by spending a day on the trail like and with him.
No pictures, but you can view a log of my run here
Karel is currently trying to set a new speed record on the Pacific Crest Trail, a 4200km trail through the rugged mountains of the USA’s west coast, from the Mexican to the Canadian border. To do so, he has to run about 80km per day for 52 days straigth. Karel has now survived 24 days of scorching South Californian deserts and the High Sierra Range, and is well over 1850km into his trip, pretty much on schedule. If he makes it, his performance could well be one of the greatest athletic accomplishments in human history.
As a friend, I am extremely exited following Karel’s crazy journey. What is more, he is not just one of these record junkies, but just combines his passions of running, wilderness and exploration (together with a good dose of training and sheer talent) into one mighty adventure.