This past Saturday morning we packed our backpacks and drove a little over an hour to a trail head in the village of Van d’en Haut. We hiked 1.5 hours up to stay the night at the Auberge de Salanfe. The Auberge is a mountain inn and something like the cabane we visited on our hike last weekend (see prior blog post). It offers a restaurant, private rooms, dormitory rooms and shared bathrooms with a shower. Guests can only walk up, but they have a road to be able to truck in their supplies. This was our first time staying in such a place, so we were super excited to see what it is like to stay in a dormitory room in the mountains with a bunch of other backpackers.
Upon entry, they request that you take off your hiking boots and leave them at the door. The notes attached are so groggy hikers don’t take the wrong shoes when they get up early in the morning 🙂
Overall, the Auberge was in a beautiful spot and made backpacking so much easier. By offering us a bed indoors, we did not have to carry a tent, sleeping bag or sleeping pad. By providing dinner and breakfast, we did not have to bring cooking tools or the food for two entire meals. It all really adds up in a lot of weight savings! Not to mention, the environment was really cool to be in. We were around backpackers of all ages, and everyone was in a cheerful mood having just hiked in the mountains and spent the evening hanging out with their family and friends. We were impressed how respectful everyone was of cleanliness and the quiet hours in the dormitory from 10pm – 6am. Everyone did their best to keep their belongings organized in the close quarters. Andrew and I woke up at 7am to get ready for our day of hiking and we were some of the last to rise. Most were up and out before 6am! Such a unique experience and an awesome way to tour the mountains. We are hoping to do this again soon.
We did some hiking on Saturday after we checked in to the Auberge, but the main feature was our Sunday hike. The plan was to get up early and hike up the Dents du Midi. These are some of the highest peaks close to Lausanne, and some that we see views of ALL THE TIME. I mean, we stare at these babies every time we are driving out to the Alps for our numerous weekend hikes and ski trips and we also have a clear view whenever we go to Montreux (like for the Christmas market back in December or the Jazz Festival in July). So, it was a goal to get ourselves to hike up to La Haute Cime, which is the only peak you can walk up without needing to use technical gear (mountaineering).
For some perspective, here is an old lithograph which shows the more commonly seen view of the Dents du Midi from Lake Geneva with the Chateau de Chillon in the foreground (We visited the castle with Kim and Cody back in April and Lauren in September).
We reached the Col de Paresseux (3,054m), the false summit just below the actual peak, after hiking just over four hours. We tried to continue on to reach the final summit only 200m above, but there was quite a lot of rock scrambling required, we were starting to run low on time and the clouds were looking darker and more ominous – implying an increased risk of thunderstorms, which is dangerous when you are hiking above treeline. Unfortunately, we had to make the call and we turned around with 150m left to the top. We forfeited our summit 😦 We were both very disappointed, but sometimes this happens. In the end, we still get to say we climbed to above 3,000m on the Dents du Midi and had an incredible hiking experience!
We made our way back down the mountain, and continued on to get to our car to drive back to Lausanne. It was about 1,700m (5,600ft) of descent in one day and hiking from 8am-5pm meant our legs were suuuuper tired and sore. But all in all, another amazing weekend in the Alps!