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Brevent from the path below Planpraz

The Argentiere Glacier on the opposite side of the valley

heading away from Planpraz towards the Col du Brevent. Chamonix and the Mer du Glace in background

Mont Blanc in background

the ladders

At the top

Le Brevent

At 2525 metres Le Brevent is one of the highest summits around Chamonix that is accessible without the need for any specialist climbing equipment, crampons or ice axes.

Paraglider and cable car at Brevent

There are of course easy ways to get to the top, and back down again! The cable car systems in the Alps has led to a new Franco-Italian sport of downhill walking, they take the easy way up and walk back down. Those that do walk up tend to go from the Planpraz cable car station and then after watching the paragliders throw themselves off the edge walk the final 500 metres up  the easier ski run route to the top. But there is nothing to beat the sense of achievement we get from walking all the way up from Chamonix, over 1500 metres ascent via Planpraz and  the Col du Brevent.

From Chamonix the path slowly climbs through pine forest slowly zig-zagging upwards with fantastic views across to the Mont Blanc massif on the opposite side of the valley. Passing the ruins of an old diary high on the side of the mountain before joining the ski run below Planpraz, where there is an opportunity to sit and watch the paragliders or have a drink at the excellent cable car station cafe.

From Planpraz it is easy to spot the ski run track going all the way to the top and the number of trekking pole wielding down hill walkers heading back towards the cable car but don't be tempted to head off that way. Instead take the path that skirts to the right away from le Brevent towards the Col du Brevent. The path is  a little narrow and rocky but not too difficult - in 2005 we met a group coming down complete with donkey. A few twists and turns and soon you are away from the crowds surrounded by mountain ridges.

Col du Brevent

From the Col du Brevent the route is marked out by red spots painted onto some of the boulders, when we first took this route we weren't quite sure if were going in the right direction and these concerns took away some of the enjoyment. This time we had more confidence and revelled in scrambling across the boulders. Even in August there were still pockets of snow on the ground behind the col.

We were stopped in our tracks, high up in the crag an Ibex , quite a rare breed of mountain goat, was grazing.

Ibex

We stopped for a while watching as it wandered about before we carried on towards a series of scrambles, ladders and steps.

The first time we saw these we considered going back and I think that if this hadn't involved returning downhill over the boulders we might have, however we didn't and having got to the top felt somewhat embarrassed about our initial fear. This year we were eagerly looking forward to this section of the walk.

The ladders are there to help you over a tricky climb and there is a little scrambling first  to actually get to them followed by another short section of exposed rock

Just what you need after nearly 4 hours of walking uphill!

After the ladders the path becomes wider and finally joins the ski run for an easy walk to the summit with it's amazing views across to Mont Blanc.

4 hours to get up and 45 minutes to go down! Courtesy of the cable cars of course!

 

 

 

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