Le Châble to Cabane du Mont Fort, Walker’s Haute Route Stage 5

With the greatest elevation gain of the 14 stage hike from Chamonix to Zermatt, 5367 feet in just 5.6 miles, today’s route climbs the hill above Le Châble offering increasingly spectacular views of mountain peaks not seen at the bottom.

Day 5 – Le Châble to Cabane du Mont Fort

Based on the Cicerone guidebook, “Chamonix to Zermatt: The Classic Walker’s Haute Route,” by Kev Reynolds

Distance : 9k

Elevation Gain: 1636m

Elevation Loss: Little

Time: 6.5 hours with frequent photo stops (does not include our lunch stop)

A long day ahead us, we left just before 7, the sun up not much earlier. The trail, although on populated hillside with roads, towns, and a gondola, manages to find a generally tranquil route through the forest, homesteads and open grasslands. You cross the road many times but only occasionally walk on it.

If you want to avoid most of the climb you can take the gondola from Le Châble to Croix des Ruinettes. From here it’s an hour to hour and half to the Cabane du Mont Fort.

The mostly shaded path has frequent views of the valley below. Although we started with cloudless skies, by mid-morning as we climb high enough to enjoy the mountain peaks the clouds started to move in.

Generally the trail is well graded but there are some very steep sections. Despite the zero elevation loss noted in the Cicerone guidebook there are some descents, only to climb back up to regain the elevation lost, and some level ground that you know you’ll have to make up for later.

We did not pack a lunch. The Ice Cube café at the Croix des Ruinettes gondola station was the first place we found to have a sandwich which we enjoyed on their pleasant terrace overlooking the populated valley. There is a more formal restaurant lower down in Clambin but they did not have take-away sandwiches.

From Croix des Ruinettes the sign posts says it’s 1:10 to Mont Fort. It took us 1:30. The track, on a gentle incline, is along a sunny hillside that follows a water conduit. This last section is 2.7 miles rising 250 meters, most of which is just before the cabane set on a small bluff. As you approach the trail winds around the hill with a fairly steep incline on the back side.

Cabane du Mont Fort

Cabane du Mont Fort should have great views of the opposing mountains but today they are cloaked in a bank of clouds which sometimes cleared to reveal their imposing outline.

The cabane has a number of rooms with various numbers of beds. All are dorm style with blankets provided but you need a sleeping bag liner. Toilets and showers are communal. For the showers, 5CHF ($5USD) buys you a token for 2 minutes of hot water. This is enough time to rinse off.

In front of the cabane a sizable terrace showcases the views while inside drinks, snacks and dinner are also served in a cozy wood paneled dining room.

The demi-pension dinner included a minestrone soup, green salad (lettuce and dressing) and a pasta main dish with a tomato sauce topped with a local cheese, baked individually in a crock. All well done, tasty and filling for hungry hikers.

At this time of the year the lodge is about half full with mostly Americans. I heard a little French and one Japanese couple.

Breakfast included muesli, milk, bread, jam and butter. Good quality coffee is served individually but service is slow with only one server and multiple requests for fancy coffee drinks – espresso, latte etc.

August 29, 2019

For links to all the posts in this series see the Chamonix to Zermatt page.