As soon as the snow disappears, normally early May, we are out walking in Portes du Soleil. Walking in Portes du Soleil mountains from Morzine and Montriond has easy access and is very rewarding with amazing views across Haute Savoie region from many of the peaks.In spring and summer the valleys and peaks are transformed by nature. Verdant and welcoming from the valley floor to the rocky peaks where miraculously mountain flowers appear everywhereand crocuses force their way through the fading patches of snow.During May and June, the wonderfully peaceful ‘inter-season’ Adam and I enjoy a variety of walks from our home in Portes du Soleil. Some walking out to conquer particular peaks and others simply a nice circuit along the rolling hills of the lower slopes.
Everywhere is well sign posted so, as long as you have an idea of where you want to head to, it’s easy to walk in Portes du Soleil without a map.We have now completed/conquered the four main peaks that dominate the skyline from Morzine & Montriond; Pointe de Nantaux, Ressachaux, Pointe de Nyon and Roc D’Enfer.
Pointe de Nantaux was particularly daunting and rewarding at the same time and took us two attempts to conquer since the first time the summit was still very much covered with snow but in August 2017 we made it to the top with our friend David.The sign at the bottom ‘KMV’ (kilometre vertical) gives it away that this is not the easiest of walks and this is by no means the roughest or steepest part.
In short the KMV is 1000m of ascent in 2000m of distance covered and then you have another 200m or so of climb and around 500m distance to reach the summit.
The arrow shows the top of the KMV (where I took the photo below), you may just make out the path directly below and the summit you see to the right is not the true summit….
The peace and tranquility, that we had all to ourselves (even on a bank holiday), at the summit was spellbinding.Walking the descent was harder on the legs though easier on the lungs and the scenery, with views across Portes du Soleil, absolutely breathtaking. Oh to be the shepherd who gets to stay here!Everywhere reminders of the power of nature.
Pointe de Ressachaux is another must conquer peak when walking in Portes du Soleil. We set off reasonably early suspecting it was a 5-6 hour walk to the summit and back. It was Sunday so, after several cups of coffee, 10.30am wasn’t a bad achievement!As we huffed and puffed up and up through the forest we were embarrassed and just a little demotivated to be cheerily greeted by a group of pot-bellied, grey haired ‘ramblers’ striding down towards us at 11.30am.
In my halting French I asked were they returning from the summit already? ‘Bien sûr! Bonne Montée!’ they replied as they disappeared down through the forest.
A few corners later some very kind, and fit, person had made a welcome bench from a fallen tree…We envied the French group, probably enjoying a menu du jour very soon but the tasty cheese baguettes in our rucksacks for lunch at the summit spurred us on. and hat a picnic spot it is.
Pointe de Nyon, our favourite peak in winter for easy to reach, fun, off-piste on powder days and actually a deceivingly difficult walk in summer.
We have walked from our home in Montriond, through town and up to the plateau du Nyon via the Cascade de Nyon which makes it about 5 hours to the top and back.On a clear day, as our next walk to the summit of Nyon, you can clearly see Mont Blanc from here…To make it shorter we’ve driven up to the plateau and walked from there which makes it a little more relaxing and leaves time for lunch at Chez Nannon.
You can even get the chair lift to just below the summit so that you can reach the amazing views
Roc D’Enfer lives up to its name Rock of Hell.
We walked from home which made the total circuit about 30km and around 7 hours. On the way to the base of Roc D’Enfer you have spectacular views, even Mont Blanc in the distance.When you pass the sign that basically says ‘ this way if you’re sensible and want an easy walk back to Les Gets or this way Danger of death’ you know you will have to keep your wits about you.
A steep, scramble over rocks takes you up to a narrow path along the long ridge which follows the crest where sometime it can be quite tricky to see where the path is.For several kilometres the narrow path picks it way up and down the ridgesuntil finally emerging into a mountain meadow and the long track back to Col D’Encrenaz and home with Roc D’Enfer looming large behind you.
Walking in Portes du Soleil is not all about ‘up’, high peaks and tough climbs.
We’ve had great days wandering in the valley and found virtually flat walks with friends and family by the river and around Morzine town using the suspension foot-bridge to avoid ups and downs.The advantage of staying close to town is that there are always plenty of places for refreshments in the sunshine…and if you do fancy exploring and walking a little higher in Portes du Soleil you can always take the lift up.
My favourite, relaxing rather than challenging, walking in Portes du Soleil has got to be around Lac du Montriond. A flat walk with spectacular views in every direction and a bar at either end!
Similarly Lac du Mines D’Or is a short drive, up, along Vallee de la Manche and rewards you with amazing views, a short walk and the Chalet Freterolle just a little further up for a spot of local lunch…