Mont Blanc de Cheilon (normal route)

Published by Stijn , 14 July 2015, 20h12.

Region: World » Switzerland » Valais » Mittelwallis
Date of the hike:10 July 2015
Mountaineering grading: PD
Climbing grading: II (UIAA Grading System)
Geo-Tags: CH-VS 
Time: 3 days

Day 1:
Arolla - Pas de Chèvres - Cabane des Dix 
(T4, 1050m ascent, 150m descent, 4 hours)

The Val d'Hérens is not as peaceful as expected when we travel in by Postauto. There is an overwhelming police presence and we pass through several police checkpoints along the road. Apparently they were on the hunt for two burglars, who would be apprehended just two hours later on the same bus line...

From Arolla we walk towards the Pas de Chèvres on a path that is so well-trodden that you almost wonder why the Postauto doesn't drive-up to 2500m. In sharp contrast is the descent down the other side of the Pas de Chèvres, where ladders and chains take you steeply down onto the moraines of the shrinking Cheilon glacier. (A long, old ladder is still visible, but is now substituted by a number of smaller, more comfortable ladders.) The shortest path to the Cabane des Dix now takes us across a flat section of the Cheilon glacier, which is mostly covered by scree. Crossing the glacier here normally doesn't require any special equipment. Still, it isn't without difficulty, as two glacial rivers have to be crossed over wooden planks, the second of which is especially shaky. The path between the Pas de Chèvres and the Dix hut is well-marked with orange paint.

The Cabane des Dix is one of the most amazing SAC huts that I've visited so far, not in the least because of its fabulous beer menu. The menu contains some 15 excellent beers, mostly Belgian speciality beers. Amazing to find such a selection at 2928m above sea level. The hut is run by a young, dynamic team, who
cook up an outstanding dinner. A large group of 10-12 year old children is staying in the hut for the night as well. They are from the Belgian city of Turnhout, not far from my own home town! The trek to the hut is the highlight of their summer camp in Les Haudères.

Day 2:
Cabane des Dix - Mont Blanc de Cheilon (normal route) - Cabane des Dix 
(PD, II, 1100m ascent, 1100m descent, 9.5 hours)

Our goal for Saturday is the Mont Blanc de Cheilon (3870m). The Mont Blanc misses out on being the highest peak between Grand Combin and Dent Blanche by just 5m to the neighbouring La Ruinette. However, thanks to its awe-inspiring stature above the Dix valley, The Mont Blanc de Cheillon is certainly the most famous mountain in the area. We opt for the normal route (PD) via the Col de Cheilon.

The climb to the Col de Cheilon is not as steep as it looks form the Cabane des Dix. After the col, the first section of the ridge can be conquered over rocks (pleasant grade II scrambling), or circumvented over the snow along the edge of the Giétro glacier (considerably quicker). After some more scrambling, the glacier is reached again at P. 3496. On the steepest part of the glacier, the ice is already bare. Moreover, there are about five noticeable crevasses that have to be crossed. A well-trodden path links a number of snow bridges, reasonable solid for the moment, over those crevasses.

The final ridge, from P. 3781 to the summit, is scrambling terrain once again. The summit doesn't come for free, as the most challenging climbing (upper grade II) comes just before the top. And so I've reached my highest summit ever :). We took a little over 5 hours from the hut to the summit. More experienced groups will likely spend less time dealing with the rope and be considerably quicker. The following day, there would be a pair doing the whole traverse of the Mont Blanc de Cheilon and back to the hut in just 6 hours!

We descend back the way we came. We find the Cabane des Dix already filling up for a busy Saturday night. It gets a bit crowded and the atmosphere is not as nice as the day before, but at least there's the Belgian beer and the dinner is outstanding once again as well.

Day 3:
Cabane des Dix - La Luette - Cabane des Dix 
(F, 650m ascent, 650m descent, 4 hours)
Cabane des dix - Barrage de la Dixence (100m ascent, 650m descent, 3 hours)

After Saturday's tour de force, we opt for an easier day on Sunday. The summit of La Luette is an easy glacier hike which takes no more than 2.5 hours from the hut. Despite its comparatively modest altitude of 3548m, the summit offers a spectacular panorama in all directions, and is well worth climbing.

After returning to the Dix hut for a power nap in the hammock, we descend towards the Lac des Dix. This is a gentler but longer descent than towards Arolla, due to some 7 km of flat T1 walking along the reservoir, before the enormous Grande Dixence Dam (285m tall and the highest gravity dam in the world) is reached. A cable car takes us down to the bottom of the dam, where there is a hotel/restaurant and an interesting exhibition to kill time before the bus comes.

Hike partners: madu, Stijn

Click to draw, click on the last point to end drawing

 26100.gpx Arolla - Cabane des Dix
 26101.gpx Mont Blanc de Cheilon
 26102.gpx La Luette


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22 Aug 20
Mont Blanc de Cheilon · Frangge
T4 F F
19 Aug 12
La Luette (3548 m) · Sky

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