Time: 9.25h. Up: 1380m. Down: 1350m.
Distance: 25km. Difficulty: medium.

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Stage 55: Refuge d'Entre-Deux-Eaux (2120m) to the Chalet Montana (2150m)

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

A very long high-level hike today through the largest national park in Europe – the Parc National de la Vanoise. Created in 1963 to provide protection for the Ibex (Fr.: Bouquetin, De.: Steinbock -- fortunately in the meantime no longer endangered... you'll probably see some on the H2H) the Vanoise is full of spectacular scenery. You actually entered it for the first time two stages ago as you went by the Refuge de Rosuel, then left it to spend the night in Val Claret, and re-entered it about an hour into the previous stage.

You'll spend the morning walking a balcony path around and high above the impressive Termignon gorge, and then in the afternoon the path winds around the southern flanks of La Dent Parrachée, a spiky 3700m peak.

This will be an exceptionally tiring stage both because of its length and also because although you have done several with more ascent and descent, this hike has a particularly high average altitude (around 2300m).

At this height there is only about 75% as much oxygen as there is at sea level, and long before the end of the day you will feel the lack. This – and the lovely rooms in the mountain hotel where you spend the night, and the presence of beverage choices other than yak-butter tea – will remind you why you prefer the H2H to trekking in the Himalayas at 4,000+m!

Today's route is largely identical with the GR5, except for right at the beginning and right at the end. Head south from the refuge down into the valley where, on the far side of the Pont de la Renaudière (2053m) you rejoin the GR5. Go west now, soon climbing steeply to a fork in the trail, where you'll take the left-hand path in the direction of the Refuge de l'Arpont (2309m). After this fork follow the trail south and west, always choosing to stay roughly on the same level rather than to take the various options descending to your left. Many, many, many hours later, the first time that you go under a ski-lift, leave the GR5 on a trail descending to your left. 10 minutes later you'll be at the Chalet Montana, which is at the top of another chairlift.

Alternatives: none that will get you to the Chalet Montana any faster. If the weather is bad, take a rest day.
Maps: IGN-3633ET Tignes, IGN-3534OT les Trois Vallées.

The House to House blog... stage 55.

<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: have lunch at the Refuge de l'Arpont (after 4h) as well as a snack before and a second lunch a few hours after!
Dinner and overnight: the best choice is the Chalet Montana (+33-(0), 60 beds in rooms), because it is slightly closer and notably more luxurious, which will be much appreciated after such a long hike, than the alternative, the Refuge de Plan Sec (+33-(0), 80 places). To get to the Refuge de Plan Sec, instead of taking the trail to the left under the ski-lift, take the next trail to the right. It adds about 15 minutes and +100m to the day. In theory you could also take the chairlift from Chalet Montana down to overnight in Aussois... but I doubt you'll get there before the lift closes, and you really, really won't want to walk the 750m down to Aussois if you miss it.

Getting There and Back
Refuge d'Entre-Deux-Eaux: this is one of the few places on the H2H that is just plain difficult to get to other than by hiking for several hours. If you want to join the H2H at this point... don't. Instead join it one stage earlier in Val Claret, or one stage later at Chalet Montana.
Chalet Montana: take the chairlift down to Aussois, from which you can take a taxi 7km to Modane, where there is a railway station (for taxi information see here (navigate to Infos-Pratiques/Addresses-Utiles/Transports), and for train schedule information, see the SNCF).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Aussois.

Background Information and Links
Many and various...

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