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Trient to Tré-le-Champ via Col de Balme

Hiking trail · Rhône-Alpes
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Macs Adventure Ltd Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Sleepy Trient Village
    / Sleepy Trient Village
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / Climbing from Trient
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / Nearing Col du Balme
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / Winding Path to Aiguilette des Posettes
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / Col du Balme
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
m 2600 2400 2200 2000 1800 1600 1400 1200 1000 12 10 8 6 4 2 km Aiguillette des Posettes Autannes Chair Lift Top Station Col de Balme Charamillon Top Station Refuge de la Peuty
A final col-top border crossing brings you back into France with majestic views along the entire western sweep of the Mont Blanc massif, dropping into the Chamonix Valley to finish for the day.
Distance 13.5 km
5:30 h
1,117 m
977 m

Escape the clutches of the sleepy village of Trient to begin the climb to France. Be sure to look left, particularly if you skipped the Fenêtre d’Arpette route yesterday, to admire the mighty Trient Glacier.

The Swiss section of the last few days can sometimes feel slightly removed from the biggest mountains, but as you make your final steps to the Col de Balme (2,191m) they reappear with a shocking grandeur. The entire western sweep of the Mont Blanc massif - chaotic glaciers, craggy spires, rock buttresses and the icy summit dome of Mont Blanc itself - stretches tantalisingly into the distance and almost appears like you could reach out and grab it. Of course, while you may not recognise them, you are familiar with these mountains already, having walked in their shadows on the other side in Italy’s Val Veni and Val Ferret. The astounding views only improve as you continue walking, eventually reaching a climax as you step onto the peak of Aiguilette des Posettes (2,201m) and let the 360° vista of mountains completely envelop you.

After finishing in Tré-le-Champ, you can walk or catch the bus to reach your overnight accommodation in Argentière. It is a pleasant and well-signposted 40 minute walk downhill, if you have the energy. Buses from Tré-le-Champ are irregular so if you arrive in time, perfect! Otherwise, it is a 10-15 minute walk to Montroc (well-signposted) from where buses run to Argentière twice-hourly. Full bus schedule available here;


Author’s recommendation

Grab a coffee atop the Col de Balme, then sit back and savour the view!
Profile picture of Josiah Skeats
Josiah Skeats
Update: February 10, 2020
Highest point
2,209 m
Lowest point
1,285 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 2,200 metres so bear in mind you may feel a shortness of breath and additional muscle fatigue associated with the altitude.

Tips and hints

Points of Interest

Aiguilette des Posettes

From the craggy summit of Aiguilette des Posettes you can enjoy a 360° panorama, including along the entire western sweep of the Mont Blanc massif. It looks especially dramatic later in the day as the golden hues of sunset paint the snow-capped peaks.




 Bus from Tré-le-Champ to Argentière

There are regular buses to Argentière from Tré-le-Champ, just make your way to the bus stop on the main road, which has a bus timetable attached


Food and Drink

Between Trient and Tré-le-Champ there are few opportunities to buy food or drink, so be sure to bring enough provisions with you.

Basking in the beautiful view atop Col de Balme after 5.9 kilometres is Chalet du Col du Balme, from where you can enjoy refreshments.


Trient Bus Stop (1,279 m)
2'565'591E 1'100'661N
46.056596, 6.994056
46°03'23.7"N 6°59'38.6"E
32T 344834 5102291



Turn-by-turn directions

From Trient Bus Stop, just below the prominent church, begin walking upriver towards the mountains ahead. Ignore two bridges, and then after 450 metres, bear right across the bridge to walk through La Peuty, following signs to Col de Balme. At the campsite, the road becomes gravel and begins heading uphill. It will soon become a narrow footpath, lunging from one switchback into another through the woods. After emerging from the trees, the Chalet du Col du Balme is visible, and the path heads straight for it.

The path continues on the right side of the café (when coming from the Swiss side) following signs for Col du Posettes (do not embark in this route if there is a likelihood of a storm, rather follow the trail as it descends from Col de Balme to La Tour), so if you visited the café (which is recommended for the view alone) you will have to retrace your steps for around 50 metres. The path to Col des Posettes, contours along the grassy slopes of the valley, enjoying beautiful views to the massif on your left.

As you reach the network of ski pistes and lifts there are numerous fractured paths which head downhill and generally rejoin. Continue following signs to Col des Posettes and check the map regularly to ensure you remain on the correct path, which heads above the scattering of huts. At the junction at 7.7km, bear right to Aiguilette des Posettes to follow the rocky footpath above the huts heading uphill towards a mountain peak, ignoring the left turn to Tré-le-Champ.

Enjoy the 360° panorama from the top of Aiguilette des Posettes before bearing left to head downhill and along the ridgeline into the Chamonix Valley, following the signs to Col des Montets. This descent can be steep and loose, so walk with care. As the path walks through woodland, keep heading downhill and following signs to Tré-le-Champ. As you emerge onto the road walk on the left side, facing the oncoming traffic until you reach the bus stop after 200 metres. If there is no bus coming soon, you can walk to Argentière which takes about 40 minutes, or to Montroc from where buses run twice-hourly. Both paths are well-signposted. Full bus schedules available here:



all notes on protected areas


2'565'591E 1'100'661N
46.056596, 6.994056
46°03'23.7"N 6°59'38.6"E
32T 344834 5102291
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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.

Basic Equipment for Hiking

  • Sturdy, comfortable and waterproof hiking boots or approach shoes
  • Layered, moisture wicking clothing
  • Hiking socks  
  • Rucksack (with rain cover)
  • Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket and suitable legwear)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking poles
  • Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Blister kit
  • Bivy / survival bag  
  • Survival blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Whistle
  • Cell phone
  • Cash
  • Navigation equipment / map and compass
  • Emergency contact details
  • ID
  • The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
  • For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
  • Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.

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13.5 km
5:30 h
1,117 m
977 m


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