GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – To say that the Swiss Alps are a great hiking destination is an understatement, but my eagerness to come to Switzerland is boosted all the more by the fact that Everest climber Leo Oracion lives there, and has been very nice to host me for the last two years, whenever I am in Europe. Our last hike was a snowshoe ascent up Mont Noble – quite a challenge for a dayhike.
This year, at the tailend of summer I was fortunate to come in more benign weather circumstances, and we did a loop hike up Le Luisin via Col d’Emaney. One of the high points of the Chamberry Alps, this hike was a worthy 23-kilometer, 2000-meter altitude gain challenge – but I was expecting no les from Leo, who always wants to push me to the limits. So assembled an itinerary combining several sections!
Parking our car on the village of Granges, around 900 MASL, we started the hike at around 0800H. The first section featured an ascent through the narrow but spectacular Gorges du Dailley, making our way to an endless flight of steps. There were waterfalls and streams alongside us, not to mention small trees, even conifers, interspersed in the rocks, and it was truly a magical experience.
Past the gorge, we reached the village of Vernayaz, where actually most of the people begin the hike. We encountered some groups from this point, which featured ascending on grassy slopes surrounded by pines, and some switchbacks with a moderate gradient. Then, the dam came to view, signalling our approach to the Lac de Salanfe – which sits at over 1900 MASL. It would take another 30 minutes, however, before we finally reached the lakeshore. From Vernayaz the total distance was 6.2 kms.
Standing just a few feet away from the tranquil waters of the lake, the view was mesmerizing, with majestic Dents du Midi reflected in the waters.
But our hike was just beginning. The hike to the Col d’Emaney – with endless switch mates on scree and later, some snow, was the crux, reminding me of the approach to Stok Kangri in the Indian Himalayas.
We were, however, rewarded with the sight of mountain ibex at the Col, and we were having lunch within a few feet of the male pack!
Past the Col d’Emaney, we pushed higher to reach Le Luisin, at 2786m one of the highest mountains of the Chamberry Alps.
The trail was rocky and at times steep but very much manageable, especially with the view: aside from Lac de Salanfe beneath, we could see the sea of clouds enveloping the Lake Geneva area, including Lausanne and Geneva itself, and to the other sight, the High Alps, led by the majestic Mont Blanc.
We didn’t stay long at the summit, especially in light of the formidable and technical descent.
Assisted by fixed steel chains, we carefully went down, in what was another long stretch of rocky slopes. And even after reaching the village at the end, we still had to go back to Granges to complete our long loop! It was almost 0600H when we reached the end of the hike!
Even so it was a worthy adventure, and although I have to go back to Amsterdam this will definitely stoke my interest to return next year and do more hiking in the Swiss Alps! Thank you Leo Oracion for another great adventure in Switzerland!