Sometimes in life, the best comes last. Serendipitously, this proved true with our very last hike on our intergenerational do it ourselves Tour de Mont Blanc (TMB). After ten glorious days of hiking the TMB – from the stunning Val Ferret and Val Vény in Courmayeur to our hike above the gorgeous Champex-Lac in Switzerland and finally to a variety of different hikes in Chamonix- our hike to Lac Blanc proved to be the one hike that had us wondering when on earth we’d ever be able to come back to this magical place. The hike to Lac Blanc reminded me exactly why I hike in the first place: To feel utterly, insanely alive. And, there is nowhere I feel more alive than outside. The pure, raw beauty of the Alps and the Tour de Mont Blanc itself can all be captured in this one hike. It is a must-do for anyone in Chamonix and anyone hiking the TMB.
We had heard about Lac Blanc from our hotel and had desperately wanted to hike there earlier but the gondola lift to La Flégère was closed. So instead, we filled our first two days with a hike to the top of Le Brévent that affords stunning panoramic views of Mont Blanc, and we did an incredible hike along the Grand Balcon on Mont Blanc to the Mer de Glace. While both hikes are exceptionally stunning for some reason I had to see Lac Blanc. I had this nagging, unexplainable urge to do this hike so I persisted. Our hotel manager told us we could reach Lac Blanc a different way – albeit a bit longer of a hike – if we drove past Argentière and parked at the Col des Montets located in the Réserve naturelle des Aiguilles-Rouges. It was rated a difficult hike but was doable in anywhere from 4-7 hours depending on level of fitness. I got my dad and son to agree and on our last day in Chamonix we set off for what would be the greatest hike of the entire trip.
We arrived at the trailhead shortly after ten. There were plenty of parking spots remaining which was of course a good sign that this beloved hike was not too busy yet. It was an absolutely perfect day for hiking with a few scattered powderpuff clouds, brilliant sun and glorious blue sky. We could not have asked for a better day for our last hike.
The hike starts behind the reserve center and follows a pretty path through wildflowers and placards talking about the flora and fauna of the reserve. Shortly, you reach the beginning of a long series of relatively steep switchbacks leading you up the side of the mountain. I won’t lie, it is a bit tiring however the higher you climb, the more sensational the views become. I knew we were heading into a hiker’s paradise. I could feel it in my bones.
After an hour of hiking, we began to see less people and more wildlife. In all my years of hiking, I have never seen so many Ibex before. An alpine ibex is a species of wild goat that lives throughout the mountains of the European Alps. The males have large curved horns while the female have shorter horns like pictured below. The males use their horns to fight during breeding season for the females. One look at the male’s horns, and we made sure to stay clear.
As you head towards Lac Blanc, you pass a series of glaciers that look like they are dripping down the side of the mountain while far below you can see little towns nestled within the verdant green foothills.
After an hour and a half of walking, you reach a completely different landscape. It is cooler and there are few trees. Soon you begin to pass by the stunning alpine lakes which make this hike so memorable.
If you have a sunny or party cloudy day, you can see the mesmerizing reflections of the clouds and the Alps upon the surface of the water. It is truly a sight to see!
After over two hours of hiking, we finally saw the Chalet du Lac Blanc (2352 m/7717 feet) nestled up in the Alps. We knew once we reached the Chalet, we’d be in for the most stunning view of the entire hike. The photo my dad showed me months before that lured me to do this hike.
As soon as we reached the Chalet, our mouths gaped in awe. The utter beauty of the high alpine lakes was surreal! Here is the famous Lac de Chéserys. I could hardly get over the magical reflections in the brilliant blue water. It was breathtaking.
As we ate our lunch looking down at this view, we wondered when we would ever be able to return to such a magical place. I close my eyes and I can see her beauty now. The mountains are calling and I must go.
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