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Fitness
Hiking trail

La Visaille to Courmayeur via Col Chécrouit

Hiking trail · Mont Blanc and La Thuile
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Climbing from Val Veni
    / Climbing from Val Veni
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Looking through Val Veni
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Contouring Path with Mountain Backdrop
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 2500 2000 1500 1000 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km Cabane du Combal Rifugio Restaurante Maison Vieille La Visaille

After a bus drops you back to the trail there’s a little backtracking on yesterday’s route before you begin breaking a fresh and increasingly scenic path overlooking Mont Blanc’s southern face. You finish in the hub of Courmayeur which has a wide selection of shops, restaurants and distractions from the trail!

difficult
15.4 km
5:30 h
830 m
1274 m

We have split the Refuge des Mottets to Courmayeur section into two days to avoid a very long one, so this track starts right from La Visaille (where you caught the bus yesterday) and fills in the gap to Courmayeur.

Although this walk is mostly downhill, there is still a significant climb of around 800 metres to reach the ‘balcony’. ‘Balcony’ is a good way to describe the footpath which remains mostly flat, hugging the exposed, steep southern slopes of Val Veni. On the far side of the valley captivating views of Mont Blanc’s jagged southern peaks and of the glaciers de Bruillard and de Fréney which appear as if they might slide from their precarious slant at any moment. Your gaze is sure to be turned left, digesting this veritable feast for the eyes.

Courmayeur marks the low-point of the trip since leaving Les Houches and therefore your first glimpse of it will be from high above, with a long descent and endless switchbacks required to reach it. If you are lacking energy, want to protect your knees, or just want to avoid this descent, you may be able to take a chairlift or gondola down, depending on summer opening times. Lift schedule available here: https://www.courmayeurmontblanc.it/pisteimpianti?n=62260

 

Author’s recommendation

Tuck in to some hearty Italian food upon arrival in Courmayeur; their mastery of delicious pizza, pasta and wine might be the rejuvenation you need!

outdooractive.com User
Author
Josiah Skeats
Updated: February 12, 2020

Difficulty
difficult
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2440 m
Lowest point
1173 m

Safety information

There are several river crossings. There are always stepping-stones available but these may be slippery, and especially when wet. Take extra caution on these crossings.

Some of the path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.

There are some exposed edges; be sure to read instructions carefully, stick to the main path, and don’t wander close to the edge. Use handrails where provided.

In early spring/summer there may still be patches of snow. Walk around where it is possible, and otherwise place your feet carefully and use walking poles if you have them.

This route is above 2,400 metres so bear in mind you may feel a shortness of breath and additional muscle fatigue associated with the altitude.

Equipment

Such is the way of Alpine hiking that you need to be prepared for all seasons and weathers; sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required, as is plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.

Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

This walk is isolated with few opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Val Veni

As you walk the first few kilometres from Val Veni bus stop towards Caban du Combal, there is a good chance you will encounter walkers with adzes protruding from swollen backpacks and a rope thrown jauntily on top. This is the main route to climb Mont Blanc from the Italian side; if they are walking in your direction they may just be setting out, but if they are coming towards you ‘congratulations’ may be in order!

 

Duke of Abruzzi Alpine Museum

This museum was started by the Duke of Abruzzi, a titan of the mountaineering world during the early 20th century. The museum houses a wealth of documents, photos, climbing equipment and souvenirs which allow you to uncover 150 years of mountaineering history. The museum is in the Società delle Guide building in Courmayeur.

More information available here: http://www.guidecourmayeur.com/en/index.php

 

Dolonne

Just before reaching Courmayeur you will pass the hamlet of Dolonne which is physically separated by the Dora Baltea river. This hamlet has retained its character, and you will stroll on cobbled streets scarcely wide for one car to pass through, let alone two. The houses are constructed in typical alpine style from wood and stone, and you might even stumble across an old wash house or communal bread oven, dating to the village’s historic roots.

 

Transport 

Bus from  Courmayeur to La Visaille

From the beginning of July until the beginning of September, a bus operates between La Visaille and Courmayeur.

Buses leave about every hour and operate approximately between 8:00 and 21:00. You can purchase a ticket from the driver which will cost a few euros.

Timetables are available at the beginning of the summer season and can be found here: http://www.savda.it/  -> click on Timetables and Prices - > Public Regional Line -> Courmayeur/Val Veny

 

Cable Car / Chairlift from Col Chécrouit to Courmayeur

You can avoid the long steep descent from Col Chécrouit to Courmayeur by taking the chairlift and cable car.

The timetables for the lifts will be available at the start of the summer season and can be found here: http://www.lovevda.it/fr/base-de-donnees/5/remontees-mecaniques/courmayeur/telecabine-dolonne-plan-checrouit-et-telesiege-plan-checrouit-maison-vieille/4343   

A one-way ticket costs approximately €10 for the cable car and €5 for the chairlift.

 

Food and Drink

Between La Visaille and Courmayeur there are few opportunities to buy food or drink, so be sure to bring enough provisions with you.

You will pass Caban du Combal, Refuge Maison Vieille and Refuge Le Randonneur after 2.7, 10.2 and 10.9 kilometres, respectively.

Start

La Visaille (Val Veni) Bus Stop (1665 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
45.785607, 6.900033
UTM
32T 336768 5072371

Destination

Courmayeur Pedestrian Street

Turn-by-turn directions

Start by catching the bus from Courmayeur to La Visaille (Val Veni) bus stop. During summer the bus runs a regular service. The full schedule can be found here; http://www.savda.it/public/documenti/352.pdf

After disembarking at Val Veni, which is also the final stop, cross the bridge over the stream and begin following the road uphill. This is the same route you walked yesterday to catch the bus. At 520 metres you can bear left from the road to walk through woodland for a short section. At 2.7km, Caban du Combal is a short detour away if you wish to buy food or drink. Otherwise, turn left to cross the bridge over the stream, still on the path you walked yesterday.

At 2.8km, 150 metres after crossing the bridge, turn left sharply to leave the gravel road and follow the footpath uphill, following signs to Courmayeur and the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). This path will head uphill steeply through alpine meadows exploding with wildflowers, revealing increasingly beautiful views across the valley and towards Mont Blanc as you gain elevation. Along the climb you will pass a series of derelict alpine huts.

At 4.9km as the path flattens out high on the grassy slopes of the valley, you can be said to have reached ‘the balcony’. Like all good balconies, there is a wonderful view, with jagged mountains and the glaciers de Bruillard and de Fréney just on your left. At 5.6km you reach the high-point of today’s walk which also happens to be a stunning viewpoint, and then the path descends a few winding turns before flattening out and heading in the direction of a ski-lift.

At 6.3km ignore the vague path off to your right and continue heading slowly downhill. There are some steep slopes to your left throughout this section so walk with care. At 8.3km, the path enters the tree-line, crosses several ski pistes, and passes below Lac Chécrouit.

At 10.2km you can enjoy refreshments at the Refuge Vielle at Col Chécrouit before the descent begins. From here the trail gets a little confusing with several routes to Courmayeur signposted. For the main TMB path bear right from the restaurant towards a crossroads. At the crossroads, continue straight on, passing just to the left of a ski lift and following the sign for Rifugio Le Randonneur. After 500 metres, bear left onto another gravel road to pass through the buildings that make up the refuge.

Immediately after passing Rifugio Le Randonneur, ignore a set of gravel tracks heading downhill, but then after 20 metres, turn right onto a gravel road signposted to Courmayeur that passes just to the right of a ‘Snack Bar.’ To the right of this snack bar is a small footpath, with an upright rock marked ‘TMB’. This narrow footpath will twist and turn downhill, and then walk parallel to a gravel road on your right.

After ignoring a narrow track leading to the Dolonne chairlift and Courmayeur Gondola stations at 11.9km, this path begins winding steeply downhill with one switchback lunging straight into the next. This path is narrow with exposed edges and can be dusty and slippery when dry, so walk with care. Walking poles will be of great assistance throughout this section.

At 12.9km, the woodland path emerges onto the corner of a gravel road, but turn left to head continue heading downhill on a footpath. As you reach a paved road turn left to head towards Courmayeur, but first, you will pass through the quaint village of Dolonne, characterised by narrow streets and quintessential Alpine houses. At 14.1km, bear left through the no-entry signs to walk along the narrow street, and then after 200 metres, just before passing a church and post box, turn right onto Strada-Route Dolonne – Courmayeur. At the stop junction with a major road, turn left to head downhill, across the bridge and then up into Courmayeur. There are yellow ‘TMB’ signs and arrows to guide you throughout this section.

At the roundabout, take the third exit signposted to Centro, and then bear right as the path immediately forks. After 100 metres, bear left at the zebra (black-and-white road markings) crossing, following the sign to Centro Pedoni. At the next ‘Stop’ junction, bear left then bear right to finish in Courmayeur in the pedestrianised centre. This is your first stop in Italy that offers a real opportunity to try some Italian food; why not find a Pizzeria or Focacciaria to replenish some of those spent calories?

Note


all notes on protected areas

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Difficulty
difficult
Distance
15.4 km
Duration
5:30h
Ascent
830 m
Descent
1274 m

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