Happy New Year to you all! I hope you celebrated in style, either in Chamonix or wherever you may be.
I was feeling suitably smug on New Year’s Day for having exercised remarkably restraint the night before in order to start 2017 as I mean to go on – in the mountains. While many of the Chamonix ski areas are now open, many of the trails are also devoid of snow and ideal for hiking and trail running.
1st January 2017 was unseasonably warm, sunny and incredibly beautiful so we put the skis to one side and got our running shoes on. A short drive above Les Houches train station and past Coupeau brought us to Le Bettey, a tiny little hamlet at the start of a number of hiking trails.
Winding up through the forest we were in the warmth of the sunshine in no time, trotting over rocks and tree roots as we made our way up towards Chailloux at an elevation of 1990m.
Le Bettey is at about 1340m altitude, so we were expecting to hit snow before too long but it’s position on the sunny side of the valley meant that we weren’t encountering any slippy patches until at least 1650m up. Even then, they were easy to cross and not too frequent.
We weren’t alone in our cunning plan to spend New Year’s Day away from the pistes, there were plenty of other hikers out for a picnic lunch in the mountains.
Coming out onto the plateau at Chalet de Chailloux was worth foregoing a few extra units of alcohol the night before – the views up here are beautiful at the best of times but yesterday was a right bobby dazzler. We crossed the only significant patch of snow that we encountered to get to a good viewpoint on the other side, where we took a lazy break to stretch out on the warm grass and bask in the sun before hammering back down the trail to where we left the car.
In total our little jaunt covered just 7.6km with 650m of ascent, taking just over 2 hours including our break at the top. This is a pleasant half day hike that will burn off a few Christmas calories.
Follow the Route de Coupeau up from Les Houches train station until you reach a sharp left hand turn that brings you onto the Route de la Flatiere. Follow this until you reach the small hamlet of Le Bettey, parking is beside the road and can sometimes be a bit of a squeeze.
See Maps of Chamonix, France
Location: Les Houches
Activities: Hiking / Walking | Running