Champex to Trient via Fenêtre d’Arpette
Macs Adventure Geverifieerde partner Keuze ontdekkingsreizigers
Swiss Chalet with Fenetre d'Arpette BackdropFoto: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
This is the physically demanding but spectacular high route option from Champex to Trient , crossing over the Fenêtre d’Arpette (2,665 metres), which should only be walked in good weather conditions. The view from the col offers an extensive view overlooking rows of mountains and the mighty Trient Glacier.
Taking the high route variant via Fenêtre d’Arpette guarantees today will be one of the most demanding hikes of the entire TMB, climbing to a height of 2,665 metres. We can only recommend this hike in good weather conditions, for those who do not suffer from vertigo as the upper section of both the ascent and descent is boulder-strewn, steep and loose and if you are not a solo walker. For the easier traditional TMB route, please see the separate entry ‘Champex to Trient via Alp Bovine’.
Soon after leaving Champex and choosing the high route variant, you will get your first glimpse to a wall of mountains crowned with a jagged row of craggy peaks, and you will question how you can get through. The climb passes through a variety of beautiful landscapes; first, come the pine forests, then the alpine meadows, and finally the barren and boulder-strewn scree slopes of the upper section, and the same is true in reverse for the descent.
The 1,300 metres of climbing will all appear worthwhile when you finally reach the tiny gap in the mountains of Fenêtre d’Arpette. Gazing through this ‘window’ into a new valley you will see rows of mountains extending to the horizon and the chaotic and crumpled body of the Trient Glacier.
Tip van de auteur
Be sure to check the weather forecast before embarking on the high route option; in the sun it's a great walk but in the cloud or rain it can quickly become an ordeal!
RustplaatsenRefuge de la Peuty
We do not recommend embarking on this route if you are a solo walker. 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 2,500 metres so bear in mind you may feel a shortness of breath and additional muscle fatigue associated with the altitude.
Tips en hints
***If you have been booked into a hotel in Martigny you will be required to catch a bus at the end of your walking day, see your itinerary document for more details.
Points of Interest
Bisse du Trient
After passing Café du Glacier the trail continues along a well-made gravel path with a gradual decline. During the last decade of the 18th century this was a railway line constructed to bring ice from the glacier to the Forclaz Pass, and from there distributed across Europe to destinations such as Paris. At the peak, 20 – 30 tonnes of ice were exported daily. A small irrigation ‘bisse’ runs beside the path sometimes in a ditch and other times on an elevated wooden channel.
The Trient Glacier is 4.3km long and covers an area of nearly 6km2, and can be split up into the upper section or ‘plateau’ where the ice is 100–150 metres deep, and the ‘tongue’ which extends into the valley, nearly 1,200 metres lower in elevation. During summer meltwater from the glacier feeds the Trient River.
For bad weather transport options, please see our guide (in the "Docs" section of your Macs app, and in "My Documents" in your Macs account online)
Food and Drink
Between Champex and Trient there are few opportunities to buy food or drink so be sure to bring enough provisions with you.
You will pass Relais d’Arpette after 2.2 kilometres and the lively Café du Glacier after 11 kilometres. Both offer opportunities to buy food or drink.
Continue walking through Champex village heading away from the lake. Shortly after passing the campground, turn left following the sign to Val d’Arpette and Fenêtre d’Arpette. After 100 metres, continue following the sign to Fenêtre d’Arpette to pass under the chairlift and then walk parallel to a cable tow before heading into the woodland. At 1.1km, bear right to keep walking with the bisse (drainage ditch and stream) on your left. You will eventually cross this stream at 1.7km as the wide stream forks into two parts. The path then climbs up on either side of the river.
You will pass Relais d’Arpette on your right, and then continue straight on heading along the road, and through the meadow towards the formidable bowl of mountains directly ahead. This jagged wall of rock is an intimidating sight, knowing that you must cross over it. At 5.3km, bear right as the path forks, following the red sign painted on a rock to Fenêtre d’Arpette, and ignoring the left fork to Ecandies. This path will leave the gully and walk along the boulder-strewn upper slopes of the valley.
At 6.4km the path begins to disappear so check the map regularly and use the red-and-white blazes of paint to guide you. You may have to use your hands to scramble in a few places, and be aware that some of these rocks may be loose; it is particularly important to be mindful of this if you are walking with people ahead or behind you. By now you will be able to see a narrow gap between the two crags; the final section is loose and zig-zags particularly steeply uphill.
Congratulations; after eventually arriving at the Fenêtre d’Arpette, soak in the spectacular view from the top of the col. The path heads down the other side on a steep and loose path. Again, you may need to use your hands to assist in a few places. At 9.1km, there is a section with a steep drop on your left side; hold the rope provided for added support. This path passes through several environments, first the barren rock and scree slopes, then the alpine meadows, followed by pine forest, eventually joining the river in the valley and walking with it on your left.
At 10.4km you will pass Café au Glacier, and then the path follows the signpost to Trient, ignoring a bridge across the stream. The path is flat and well-made, the leftovers of a railway that previously operated between the glacier and the Col du Forclaz. On your right runs an impressive bisse (irrigation stream) which features elevated wooden channels to guide the meltwater down to the agricultural areas. At 12.3km bear left onto the path that zig-zags down through the woodland, following the signpost to Trient, and then after 1 kilometre, continue straight at the crossroad. As you descend you will see the prominent steeple of the church which marks the centre of Trient. To reach the hotels in Trient bear right of this church and head downhill towards the river.
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.
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