The 5,300ft climb from La Sage to Cabane de Moiry rivals stage 5 for the greatest elevation gain. In good weather the highlight of the hike should be the views of the Moiry glacier as you near the cabane. For us, however, there was only a glimpse with the promise of views for the following day.
Day 9 –La Sage to Cabane de Moiry
Based on the Cicerone guidebook, “Chamonix to Zermatt: The Classic Walker’s Haute Route” by Kev Reynolds
Distance : 10k
Elevation Gain: 1617m
Elevation Loss: 459m
Time: 8 hours with frequent photo stops and a short lunch break at the pass.
Woke to fog clinging to the mountain tops with a chance of clearing skies at midday. While patches of blue appeared and the mountainside started to clear, the openings in the clouds closed as quickly as they appeared.
The long 1200m climb from La Sage to Col du Tsaté (2868m) should be a pretty hike along a grassy hillside with view of the valley behind you but today there was nothing but cows and clouds.
Rounding the top of the hillside where 2 long cattle buildings stand a series of bowls begins. The descents are minor and the ascents generally not too steep until the wall of the third and final bowl to reach the top of the pass. The fog ebbs and flows in the bowls, sometimes clearing enough to give a sense of the grassy alpine meadows with patches of wild flowers.
Despite the low clouds, from the pass we can see down the other side to a beautifully sunlit glacier lake with low clouds swirling about.
The walk down first follows a steep ravine to arrive at a T-intersection without a clear indication, i.e. no signpost, of the route to the lakes and the parking lot. To the right and a short ways off the trail a faded arrow on a rock points to the route down.
From here the track winds back and forth with great views of Lake Moiry.
Once at the lake and parking lot the final 400m climb to the cabane begins. On a clear day this trail should have fabulous views of the glacier. Today, however, there is only a glimpse of its splendor. Luckily we will have these same views the next with clear skies forecasted.
The track to the cabane is generally well graded, first following a road, but becoming steep in sections. Further up the hill the trail follows a ridge atop the moraine, again with impressive views, and then climbs a valley before starting the final set of switch backs. From here it’s a short traverse across a boulder jumble to reach the cabane. The density of the fog intensifies as we climb, giving me a nagging feeling that this well never end. I imagine in clear weather the views would pull me forward.
Cabane de Moiry
Cabane de Moiry has a modern feel with a large central room with pictures windows overlooking the glacier. The kitchen has a reasonable selection of drinks and snacks considering its location.
Accommodations are all bunkrooms, often 4 to a room. With the low occupancy we were just 2 in a room for 4.
During our stay they were having a water shortage and closed the inside toilet and showers during the day. At night there was an inside toilet available.
Cabane de Moiry serves up the best mountain hut dinner of the trip. The demi-pension dinner started with a light split pea soup. You never know how much soup to eat because you don’t know what and how much is coming next. Here, don’t fill up on the soup. The main was a plentiful plate of sausages served with a plate of a leek and potato combo – the leeks super tender and the potatoes not overdone, a bowl of lentils and a basket of bread, one piece each. More was offered if we were still hungry. For dessert a coffee flavored mousse.
The breakfast buffet was also plentiful and well organized with the usual offerings – bread, cheese, jam, butter, muesli, yogurt and thermoses of coffee, tea and hot milk.
September 2, 2019
For links to all the posts in this series see the Chamonix to Zermatt page.