Saturday, October 25, 2014

Roc d'Enfer

Our annual holiday-with-friends usually allows us to experience some exceptional scenery, and this year's October half-term trip did the job handsomely. We've discovered that out-of-season ski-chalets in France can be rented out very cheaply - especially when the bills are shared out between several families. One of the highlights of this trip was a family walk for the five of us in the company of Psycho Pete and Dangerous Dave.

The drive up from Morzine through Essert-Romand and up to the little hamlet of Graydon was an exciting prelude to a great day in the hills. The route we took began at the little chapel at Graydon, snaking up the hill behind it alongside a ski tow to the top of a pass. Alongside us as we climbed was the soaring ridge of the Roc d'Enfer - the rock of hell, so called as it has claimed many lives of climbers over the years. Hardly a suitable route on which to take children perhaps; but the guide book assured us that the part of the ridge we were attempting was safe and that most accidents had taken place on the tricky sections in Winter conditions.

Looking across to the ridge, and the feint path up to the little notch on its summit which was our destination was quite intimidating. The path looked impossibly steep, muddy and very slippery following heavy rain the previous day. From the top of the ski-tow the path seemed to terminate in a gully which would not be possible to get the kids (especially our nine-year old daughter) up; never mind back down if the going got too tough.
Deciding to give-it-a-go we found that to the left of the lethal looking gully, (the Chute de Neige?) a scratchy path weaved up the face up the hill becoming progressively steep until suddenly emerging on the ridge. Perched here with the ground falling away on both sides, and the blade like ridge each side of us, we stopped for a memorable lunch; and looked at the descent route to see what we were in for on the way back to Graydon.

Although the route map said we should continue a long way along the ridge, time was against us - and we were a little concerned about the kids. Soon after a tricky 'bad-step' over which much time and care was taken, we found a signpost and the 'main-path' down to Graydon, which we took. Weaving our way through grassy flat areas, and steep bouldery slopes, we soon found ourselves within sight of the little chapel and Graydon; tired, thirsty and pleased with our little adventure. The tiny shop in this remote location sells only its own cheese; so we drove back down the hill to treat the kids in a cafe, after their hard work.

(click on image to enlarge)

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