The Aosta Valley is an ideal environment for hiking in the mountains and Courmayeur is the highlight. In its area there is an infinite number of hiking trails, from the short and very easy to the long and difficult. All of this, of course, in the presence of his majesty Mont Blanc and its court of spiers, rocky ridges, snow-capped peaks and eternal ice flows.
The main areas for hiking in Courmayeur
What determines the extraordinary quantity and variety of trips and hiking trails in Courmayeur is above all the conformation of the territory.
Courmayeur is located in the final stretch of the Aosta Valley, the Valdigne. Here the valley is barred by the Mont Blanc chain. But instead of ending, it forks into Val Veny on the left and Val Ferret on the right. Furthermore, it gives rise to a series of minor valleys: Val Sapin, Val di Youla. This system multiplies the variety of terrain and possibilities, creating optimal conditions for hiking.
In general, four main areas can be defined, geographically and morphologically distinct.
The two main ones are Val Veny and Val Ferret. The third district extends above Courmayeur, in Val Sapin and on the left orographic side of the main valley, in the direction of Morgex and La Salle. The fourth corresponds to the orographic right of the valley from Courmayeur to Pré-Saint-Didier and affects the set of valleys and plateaus overlooking the hamlet of Dolonne (Plan Checrouit, Val d’Arp).
Despite a certain similarity, Val Veny and Val Ferret are characterized by a different morphology. The first is simpler and rectilinear, conditioned by the looming presence of Mont Blanc and cut in half by the tongue of the Miage glacier. The second is more open and flat, with a series of side valleys that branch off on the opposite side of the Mont Blanc range.
This difference is the basis of the variety of hiking itineraries, capable of satisfying all tastes. From a short walk along the valley floor to a walk up to refuges or mountain pastures. From a half-day hike for the whole family to a long climb to a pass. From the little excursion to see a nice glacial lake, to the equipped trail (or a real via ferrata) to a high altitude bivouac in Mont Blanc.
The pride of the entire Courmayeur area is the famous Tour du Mont Blanc, a great trekking lasting several days, which develops around the entire Mont Blanc group. One of the main and most exciting sectors is the one that passes along the slopes in the Veny and Ferret valleys, opposite of Mont Blanc.
The most important hikes in Courmayeur
To give a summary picture of the hiking itineraries of Courmayeur and its surroundings, a good starting point are pleasant trips to the valley floor of Val Veny and Val Ferret. Popular destinations are the lakes of Miage and Combal (in Val Veny) and the villages of Lavachey and Arnouva (in Val Ferret).
Appreciated for the superb views they can offer are the easy crossings at high altitude in Val Veny and Val Ferret, also known as “balconate” (balconies).
Longer and more demanding trips lead to Lake Lyconi and the passes (“col” or “colle”) that connect with other valleys or even with France and Switzerland. The best known are Col de la Seigne, Col Chavannes, Col Sapin, Col de Malatra, Colle Battaglione Aosta and Col du Grand Ferret.
As for the refuges and bivouacs, you are spoiled for choice. The most comfortable are along the route of the Mont Blanc Tour: the Elisabetta Soldini and Maison Vieille huts in Val Veny, the Bertone hut in Val Sapin, the Bonatti and Elena huts in Val Ferret. A second group includes various refuges and bivouacs located on the slopes of Mont Blanc, and therefore reachable with medium-length routes, which in some cases require the overcoming of aided sections. Accessible from Val Veny are the Monzino and Gonella refuges and the Borelli, Hess and Rainetto bivouacs. In Val Ferret, on the other hand, there are the Boccalatte and Dalmazzi refuges and the Fiorio, Gervasutti and Comino bivouacs. Decisamente alpinistici sono, invece, i bivacchi Alberico e Borgna, della Brenva, Canzio, Craveri, Crippa, Jachia, Lampugnani e il rifugio incustodito Quintino Sella.
Hiking in the Aosta Valley, France and Switzerland
For those who can’t get enough, Courmayeur has the advantage of being a short distance from other areas of great interest.
A few kilometers away is La Thuile, with its excursions to the magnificent waterfalls and the glacial valley of Rutor, to Lake Verney and to the various itineraries in the valleys of Chavannes, Orgères and Youla. A classic for everyone is then the short trip to the magnificent Lake Arpy, with spectacular views of Mont Blanc.
With a longer journey you can reach Valgrisenche, Val di Rhême and Valsavarenche on the south side of the Aosta Valley, and the highlands of Vertosan and Vetan on the north side. The possibilities expand dramatically, including itineraries between pastures and vast high-altitude plateaus.
An endless choice is also offered on the other side of the Tunnel, on the Chamonix side of Mont Blanc. The countless excursions around Les Contamine, Les Huches, Argentière and Vallorcine allow you to appreciate in all its splendor the French side of Mont Blanc, snowier less steep than the Italian one. Not to be missed here is the so-called “Grand Balcon Sud”, the long high altitude crossing on the side opposite Mont Blanc, 1000 m above Chamonix and Argentière. A sequence of unforgettable views of the main peaks of the chain, with the huge glaciers that descend to the valley.
Magnificent routes can also be found in Switzerland, just beyond the border with the Chamonix valley, where the beautiful Fenêtre lakes, the evocative glacial sceneries of the Trient valley and the Emosson lakes stand out, with the strange morphology of the surrounding mountains and the famous site with dinosaur footprints.
Trips by cable car and train
Numerous ski lifts are in operation around Mont Blanc. Most of them are dedicated to skiing, but some are also active during the summer season. Excellent thing, because they can serve as a means of climbing at high altitude for both hikers and mountaineers.
The most famous is the Skyway (Mont Blanc cableway), which from Pontal (Entrèves) allows you to reach the 3462 m of Punta Helbronner. If at that altitude only mountaineering routes are possible, from the intermediate station of the Pavillon du Mont Fréty (2173 m) some routes of great beauty start, including the one to the viewpoint on the Brenva glacier.
On the Courmayeur side there are no rack railways in operation. Instead, on the French one there are two particularly interesting ones. The famous Mer de Glace train takes you from Chamonix to Montenvers station (1913m), overlooking the Mer de Glace glacier, where numerous hiking trails also depart. The “Tramway du Mont Blanc” climbs from Saint Gervais-Le Fayet to the 2380 m of Nid d’Aigle, the starting point of the normal route to Mont Blanc and a fantastic viewpoint over the Bionnassay valley.
The Aigle Hotel seems to have been made precisely to satisfy every type of hiker.
Thanks to its location, it allows quick access to Val Ferret and Val Veny, with their exceptional variety of routes of all lengths and levels. Furthermore, it also allows you to easily reach Morgex and La Thuile with their districts, rich in magnificent hiking trails.
For those who feel the desire to walk also on the other side of Mont Blanc, the Aigle Hotel is the ideal base. In fact, the great proximity to the Mont Blanc tunnel allows you to reach Chamonix quickly, both by car and by bus.
Over the last few years, Hotel Aigle has become one of the favorite overnight accommodation places for numerous hikers on the Tour du Mont Blanc. They are mountain enthusiasts from all over the world who walk for several days before returning home. This is why we pay special attention to them and try to offer all possible support with information and advice.
But location isn’t everything. In fact, Hotel Aigle offers many other things to all hiking enthusiasts.
First of all, the care of the food, from the dinner to the breakfast in the morning. The possibility to prepare sandwiches and snacks for a picnic during the hike. Of course, also maps, guides and information material of all kinds. And, if necessary, instructions for renting equipment for special circumstances (trekking poles, via ferrata set, insurance lanyard, etc.).
But our commitment goes deeper. It is a commitment made up of advice and suggestions. A commitment based on a great personal experience and on the stories of how others lived a particular trip, their problems and their feelings.
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