excellent late-summer or early fall walk for even the feeblest amongst us. After
a summer of 40 degree (100 degree F) temperatures tearing away at our sanity,
September brings some of the most stunningly pleasant weather that Switzerland
has seen during our brief 27-year tenure here.
one finds oneself in beautiful downtown Ovronnaz on 6 September 2003 at about
11 a.m., suiting up in one's new "Happy Fish from Slovenian River" T-shirt,
plastic water bottle belt, and Fujifilm digital camera, setting out to see whether
flitting memories of the same promenade to Rambert in 1982 can claim any sort
of accuracy at all.
village of Ovronnaz (1332m) is a modest vertical tourist station perched implausibly
but so far successfully above the valley of the Rhône river in the canton
of Valais, on the Bernese side, near Riddes between Sion and Martigny. One departs
thence and trots along up to the hanging valley of Saille
(above) at 1790m. The Petit and the Grand Muveran loom ahead, the Rambert somewhere
Saille one looks up and wonders . . . to the left or to the right. As it turns out, the trail leads to the right of the Petit Muveran . . .
. . . up this way . . .
. . and passes over the headwall above the Saille . . .
. . into the hanging valley of Plan Coppet, with
its only intact building at 2125m. The cartons in front of the doorway are filled
with water bottles, stored there to be charitably passed out to runners in the
annual Rambert running race. All the fine but vertical places that you see on
this page were traversed in a mad hurry the following day (and annually) by a
crowd of sturdy runners, none of whom aspires to fame in golf, shuffleboard,
bowling, or video games.
Plan Coppet and a first good look at the Grand Muveran, which at 3052m altitude forms
a central anchor of the Dent de Morcles range, between the Préalps and
the true Alps. The path leads up along the right of and then leftward across the
big scree slope just to the right of the central gulley.
Muveran from the other side, click here.]
one passes up over the Plan Coppet headwall, called Brotset, one views amazing
scenery in the variable cloudy weather . . .
. . . with all the mountain-building folds so beloved by geologists . . .
. . and reaches the Plan Salentse (2350m), a big
flat bowl nestled between the Petit Muveran up on the left and . . .
. . .
the Grand Muveran, in all its sandy and muddy glory, on the right. A call-it-a-path-if-you-want-to
leads high along the scree and over the ridge just left of center and descends
implausibly to the Pont de Nant. But we're turning abruptly up to the right.
A little flag on the ridge
Cabane Rambert appears.
irregularities in the landscape, as we plod upwards . . .
. . to the Cabane Rambert (2580m) in the shadow of the Grand Muveran.
cabane, with the Petit Muveran in the background, and the clifftop loo on the
a classic loo it is!
look at the Rambert, not much changed since our last visit here, 21 years ago
it was, oooff.
back down towards Ovronnaz. Gotta dash, we've got unfinished business in the valley.
observes our halting progress on bad knees warily, and then darts straight up
with a grin as we lean on our skipoles
and regard him or her enviously, then totter down along the Salentse flat.
the headwall below Salentse, the pleasant view back down on Plan Coppet and the
farm building, and the valley of the Rhône a mile and a half below.
the way down into the bowl at Saille again . . .
. . . along
the path newly bedeckt with little flags to guide tomorrow's runners.
folks who run these paths competitively must eat their Wheaties regularly. That's
all I have to say on that subject.