We have been back out on the trails again, this time on the Walkers Haute Route: high section between Le Chable & Arolla. Vic Chelton gives her account on the current situation.
Le Chable to Cabane du Louvie
On arrival to the village of Le Chable head to the Main Central Train and Lift System of Verbier network. Due to closure of Mont Fort Refuge a bus needs to be taken to Fionnay to reach the Cabane de Louvie. There is a ticket office to purchase bus tickets and information. Look for the 253 Post Bus direction Mauvosin. This is usually lane three at the bus depot. There are six buses per day and the last bus is 17:21pm. Cost is 8,20 Swiss Francs (CHF). Travel time from Le Chable to Fionnay is 31 mins, make sure to ring bell on the bus to notify your stop.
From the bus stop in Fionnay, the start of the trail head is immediately across the road. Make sure to stay left from the lake. The hike to Cabane de Louvie is a short but steep, 800m ascent. Allow 1.5 - 2.5 hrs for this climb. Note that dinner at the refuge is served at 19:00 hrs, so be sure to arrive at least an hour in advance of dinner time. The Cabane de Louvie is a small but very efficient, purposely adapted refuge in a very tranquil setting.
At Cabane de Louvie the food is great and facilities sufficient, with showers. There is no telephone signal or Wi-fi available. Patience and consideration is important, as at times the refuge can become very busy. The guardian and staff work very hard and do a fantastic job to look after everyone so high up in the mountains.
Cabane de Louvie: https://en.louvie.ch
Cabane du Louvie to Cabane Prafleuri
The path from Cabane de Louvie to Col de Louvie is completely snow free. There are some sections of path that are narrow and exposed but cables are in place to assist you. Care must be taken here.
From Col de Louvie to Col de Prafleuri, there are currently still some considerably large patches of snow remaining. This is easily passable. It's very important to note that post holing (sinking deeply into snow) is a major issue here. It gets worse as the snow starts to melt. Take each stride carefully.
After the descent from Col de Louvie to the Grand Desert Plate the painted markers towards Col de Prafleuri are slightly vague for a while. Be sure to keep looking out for markers in a general NE direction. There is a small section of snow that needs extra care to cross on way to Col de Prafleuri just before the two small lakes at roughly 2800m. Slowly progress between path and snow, however it is passable to the Col de Plafleuri (2965m).
The descent to Cabane de Prafleuri is straightforward. We often pass a family of Ibex on the route, so keep a good look out for them.
It's important to note that the telephone signal is either non existent or very weak between the Cabane de Louvie and the Col de Reidmatten on day two of this high section on the descent to Arolla. There is no WIFI at either mountain refuges so perhaps let your loved ones know that you will be out of contact for two days.
Cabane Prafleuri to Arolla
The day between Cabane de Praflueri to Arolla is completely snow free. The views are just outstanding during this whole day. The main point to note for this day is the passage of Col de Riedmatten/ Pas de Chèvre. Over the years this section of trail has been forever changing. After landslides over the previous years there has been a lot of trail re-construction work to secure this area.
For 2023 it is important to note that the commune is deterring people crossing through the ladder section of Pas de Chèvre. The Col de Riedmatten is now the preferred and most straightforward passage. Care still must be taken, the way is well marked.
The bus system is functioning from Arolla. Be sure to carry some cash in Swiss Francs (CHF). There is an ATM but it is inside the Tourist Office and only available during opening hours. Basic supplies can be bought from the local village shop.