Our first night in a refuge – Moëde Anterne
The walk to the Col d’Anterne had come highly recommended and for added excitement it involved an overnight stay at a refuge – a first for Vicky and I, so we weren’t too sure what to expect!
For morale support, a little bit of ‘Dutch-courage’ and an excuse for some catch-up time we partnered up with friends Sam, Steve and their (almost) 2 year old son, Barney, for the over-night hike. We dropped 1 vehicle off at La Fardelay before driving up to the start of the walk at Le Lignon with the target of reaching the Refuge Alfred Wills for lunch.
The track follows a section of the GR5, a walk that stretches 1500km between the Netherlands and the Mediterranean and which passes through the heart of Samoëns in the Giffre Valley before heading through the Passy National Reserve and into Chamonix in the Arve Valley.
Whilst our ‘grande randonnee’ was only going to be a small sample of the route, the alpine section of the GR5 is considered to be one of the most beautiful and rewarding hikes in the world and with perfect blue sky forecast for our walk we were all in high-spirits and looking forward to some spectacular views.
The track from Le Lignon to Refuge Alfred Wills initially climbs 600m to Collet d’Anterne (1796m) from where you are rewarded with your first views of the snow capped peaks of the Mont Blanc range. After an extremely leisurely lunch at the refuge we continued to follow the GR5, climbing a further 350m, to reach the Lac d’Anterne at 2150m. The setting for the lake is truly stunning being flanked by the vertical 800m high wall of the Rochers des Fiz on one side and the ridge of the Fretes de Moëde on the other. As we relaxed on the shores of the lake, surrounded by the characteristic squeals of marmotte and the ringing of sheep and goat bells we really felt at one with nature – just a shame we had another col to climb before we could reward ourselves with a mountain fondue and a few bottles of beer . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . but what a col the Col d’Anterne turned out to be – at 2257m and just over 10km away from Mont Blanc we just stood, stared and smiled at the beauty of the truly breath-taking views of the peaks and glaciers of the Mont Blanc range.
After realising that we’d started to get cold and that dinner time wasn’t far away we headed down the ridge to our over-night stop at the Refuge Moëde Anterne from where we were able to watch the changing colours of the sunset reflecting off the snow whilst re-hydrating on a few bottles of Mont Blanc Beer and some rosé.
After almost missing breakfast as a result of a lie-in (only until 7.30am!) we packed-up our rucksacks and re-traced our steps back over the Col d’Anterne and past the lake before taking an alternative route back into the Giffre Valley. Leaving the route of the GR5 we headed up and over Le Petit Col d’Anterne (2038m) before dropping down into the stunningly beautiful Cirque des Fonts for a well deserved lunch at the Refuge des Fonts! Donning our packs for the last time we then headed back to our van at La Fardelay. A truly exceptional walk with magnificent scenery and one that we’ll certainly be doing again – hopefully with the accompaniment or Sam, Steve and Barney!