Having climbed the Dent de Morcles a few days earlier I thought that the other peak that towers over our local town, Monthey, would be a good outing for a one and a half day trip. The Grand Muveran south face is a trickier climb than the exciting military route on the Dent de Morcles but you can still do it without ropes (if you don't look down). I also enjoyed it so much that I wrote a blog about it.
I started in the ski resort of Ovronnaz - at 1300m this avoids a bit of climbing but there is still a hard slog up the Saille valley towards the Rambert hut. The walk is delightful, after the rather steep climb through the woods to get up to the first high pasture (above). The Petit Muveran towers above you and impressive waterfalls drop into the valley. The route then takes you up alongside one of the waterfalls into a higher valley. I later discovered that I could have avoided much of this climb by taking the Jorasse chair lift and then traversing but then that would be cheating! After another steep climb from the second valley I reached the Rambert hut at 2582m and in a fantastic position looking across at the panorama of the Pennine Alps.
The Rambert hut has been expanded from its original stone construction with a modern dormitory block. The living area and kitchens are also new. When I booked the previous day the hut was almost empty so I was surprised to see more and more hikers arriving. With great weather forecast for the next day I guess that a lot of folks decided to come up at the last minute. The position is amazing with a view from the Matterhorn in the East (above left) to the huge bulk of the Grand Combin centre and Mont Blanc to the West. The hut staff are also super friendly and the food was great as well.
I leave the hut at 7 the next morning to get ahead of the crowds. The route (above) follows the Moray ridge behind the hut first along a path and then steep scree before a bit of easy climbing (grade II). At the top of the ridge the well marked route (red, green and blue blobs and arrows) follows a rising leftwards traverse along tiny ledges. The footing is mostly OK and fortunately there are always handholds but the drops are spectacular. At one stage a chain helps you around a bulging section - and a metal plaque tells you that someone fell off here in 1962.
The top picture above shows the spectacular views in the early morning from high on the traverse across the face. The photo below it shows some climbers on the same ridge as the photo above as I was coming down. The route follows the traverse line slightly below them coming towards me. You can see that it is not exactly a wide ledge! After a lot of this scary traversing the path starts to wind upwards with the last set of blue blobs bringing you up onto the East Ridge with the summit on your left.
After a drink and a snack, and a few selfies of the views, I realise that I now need to down climb all the trickly passages that I have just climbed up! I am reassured to find that the climbers I meet coming up as I am descending are not finding it any easier. At one point coming down there is a great view of the Dents du Midi (below) where I will be tomorrow. I also get a bit disoriented when I get back on the screes - it is harder to see the blue blobs when you are coming down. I pick out the path winding away to the right and am soon back at the hut for a quick change into shorts before heading back to the valley. Great route!