Time: 8.25h. Up: 1460m. Down: 940m.
Distance: 20km. Difficulty: medium.

Previous Stage  Section  Next Stage

Stage 49: Chamonix (1037m) to the Refuge de Miage (1559m)

Click and drag on map above to see area around trail. Click here for large zoomable map.

For the next few stages you'll work your way around the Mont Blanc massif with spectacular views of its glaciers and peaks. Today, after walking down-valley from Chamonix to the town of les Houches, you climb up to cross the terminal moraine of one of those glaciers, and then go over a pass before descending to the refuge where you'll spend the night.

This stage and the next will be among the busiest on the H2H, because they take the same trails as the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB), a classic and very popular week-long hike around the massif.

You will no doubt find numerous opportunities for subtle one-upmanship when talking to the TMB-ers ("Wow, you are hiking for a whole week?!?")... but you will have to be careful to make sure that they actually are TMB-ers and aren't hiking the GR5... all the way from the North Sea coast of Holland to the Mediterranean at Nice.

At 2600km the whole GR5 is a good deal longer than the H2H (although with less altitude gained and lost)... and so when talking with GR5 through-hikers mutual respect will be called for!

Today's hike takes the same trails as the GR5 between les Houches and Col de Voza. From Chamonix head southwest down the northern bank of the Arve River via les Gaillands to the dam at les Houches (960m). Cross the river and the motorway on the far side, then turn right and walk about 1km along the road to les Trabets (993m), where a small side road to your left leads up to the beginning of a steeply climbing trail. Follow this through la Maison Neuve (1221m) all the way up to the Col de Voza (1653m), then turn left to hike up the broad ridge, initially parallel to the cog railway but soon branching off to the right to climb up to and cross the terminal moraine of the Glacier de Bionnassay on your way to the Col de Tricot (2120m). On the far side of the pass, a steep trail zig-zags down to the Refuge de Miage.

Alternatives: there are a couple of ways to shorten the day, which can be combined if you want to be really lazy. You can take the train or a taxi to les Houches (saves 2.5h, +130m, -210m, 7.5km). You can also take the Bellevue cable car up from les Trabets to la Chalette (1801m), from which a short walk gently downhill to the west will bring you to where the main route branches off to climb up to the glacier (saves 3.25h, +870m, -60m, 5km). If the weather is bad, or if the Refuge de Miage is full, then take the GR5 down from the Col de Voza via Bionnassay (1320m), la Villette (1066m), and les Hoches (1055m), to les Contamines-Montjoie (1167m) where there are a number of places to stay. This will make for an equivalently long day, but is lower, less exposed, and saves about 2h at the beginning of the next stage.
Map: IGN-3531ET St.-Gervais-les-Bains.

The House to House blog... stage 49.

<A couple of representative photos from this stage will be added here after the hike>
In the meantime, click here to go to all of the H2H photos on Flickr.

GPS Track
<To be added during or after hike>

Room and Board Options
Lunch: take a snack with you for mid-morning, and then have lunch at the Col de Voza (after 4.75h).
Dinner and overnight: the only place to stay at the Chalets de Miage is the Refuge de Miage (+33-(0), 1 double, 35 places in bunkrooms). Some 40 minutes, +180m, -20m, 1km further on is the Auberge du Truc (1720m -- +33-(0), 28 places in bunkrooms). If you follow the GR5 to les Contamines-Montjoie there are several places to stay and eat (for a complete list, see here).

Getting There and Back
Chamonix: there is a railway station here (for train schedule information, see the SNCF).
Refuge de Miage: hike via the Chalets de Truc (1720m) down to les Contamines-Montjoie (2h, +180m, -570m, 5.5km), from which you can catch a taxi or one of the infrequent buses about 12km to le Fayet, where there is a railway station (for taxi contact information see here, and for bus information here).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Chamonix, centered on les Contamines-Montjoie.

Background Information and Links
Many and various...

Previous Stage  Section  Next Stage