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Grande Chenalette and Pointe de Drône

Published by Stijn , 26 August 2014, 21h17.

Region: World » Italy » Val d'Aosta
Date of the hike:20 August 2014
Hiking grading: T4 - High-level Alpine hike
Geo-Tags: CH-VS   I 
Time: 4:00
Height gain: 550 m 1804 ft.
Height loss: 550 m 1804 ft.

Right next to the most touristic of all passes - the Great St. Bernard - there's a very scenic alpine route. It is described in the SAC guidebook "Die Klettersteige der Schweiz", with the disclaimer "more of a alpine hike than a proper via ferrata, but in return: panorama, panorama!" That's a pretty accurate summary.

From the Hospice at the Col du Grand St. Bernard, we follow the hiking path in the direction of the Grande Chenalette. Until the viewpoint at P. 2792 this is T2. The rest of the route over the Grande Chenalette and the Pointe de Drône is also marked white-red-white, but does have several T4-sections, often secured by cables and with a few ladders. The guidebook mentions "hemp ropes and wooden ladders that definitely belong in a via ferrata museum". These seem to have been replaced by more modern chains and ladders. In any case, the experienced hiker hardly ever needs them anyway.

From the Fenêtre d'en Haut, the marked route goes north towards the Lacs de Fenêtre. We, however, take the shortest route back to the Col du Grand St. Bernard, along an unmarked (but mostly easy to follow) path on the Italian side of the ridge. It crosses a few small boulder fields and has one spot of easy scrambling next to a water pipe. Otherwise it's a very smooth and fast descent, which takes us directly to the giant statue of St. Bernard.

Someone is walking three St. Bernard dogs on the tourist path next to the tarn, but we are rather impolitely forbidden from taking any photos. This is only allowed at the "Chenil", where of course you'd have to pay an entrace fee of CHF 10. What a ridiculous tourist circus. Fortunately, our hike took us to a completely different world, dominated by mountains (Mont Blanc! Grandes Jorasses! Grand Combin! Gran Paradiso! Grande Rousse! Very grand indeed!), rather than by dogs and tourists.

N.B.: an interesting (longer and spicier) variation of this hike is described by poudrieres.

Hike partners: Stijn


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