Day 18 : Tignes Les Boisses – Valgrisenche 28th June 2013

Woke up 5:30am.

Foggy this morning.Breakfast at 6:30am with kids (french national ski team future) doing there ski training at the Tignes Grande Motte glacier.They will be on the lift at 7am. Tignes Grande Motte glacier opens 7am to 1pm

Start walking 7am

7:30am the fog is gone now.bright sky

8am Reached Bergerie de la Davie 2060m. Going down now.

At Orsieres 1980m took Nazonde direction. Many trails and no real markers. Easy to go wrong trail if not focusing on map or GPS.

At Bois du Millo intersection 1950m 8:30am

Via alpina goes down left towards Nazonde. Nantcruet is marked 1h on the right but should be longer (from what i saw on the map)

Nazonde (one house) 1880m 8:40am. Nantcruet marked 25mins going up on the right

Nazonde house is open.not occupied anymore. The roof looks allright. Could be used as shelter

Nantcruet 1850m 9am. Out of the hamlet, via alpina follows small concrete road

Shortly after meet Jean Louis who have a chalet in Nantcruet. He did not want to be filmed but he was very talkative and told me about the big landslide that cut the road access to Nantcruet hamlet. He was telling me that communal workers only works 4 hours a day to fix the road. And today friday nobody was working.

The road not fixed makes it impossible for the Nantcruet farmer to bring up the cows for the summer. That is a major problem for the farmer.

That helicopter in Tignes should bring the concrete up here to fix the road. Oh yeah but nobody cares about the Nantcruet farmer…

9:30am reached Le Chenal upper 1740m.

Get to La Combaz hamlet. One man doing some gardening. He started to be talkative from the distance. I stopped and went towards him. He started to be very talkative.

Meet Max 74years old savoyard. Always lived in La Combaz. He told me that everybody knows about Le Monal because it has been “classified” (protected) like 15years ago but no one knows La Combaz.

One of the many interesting things he told me was that since nearby Le monal been classified and that no more farmers lived there. The path were not taken care of and all the tourists coming did not respect the paths and crosses in the fields.ruining the site and increasing the eroding.

Very interesting and healthy Max, shacked his hand and left him go back gardening.

10:15am Le monal classified hamlet 1850m

Refuge de l’archeboc marked 3h45

Just after leaving Le Monal. Just starting crossing way with at least 20 day hikers.

Max was right. Just saw a guy leaving the main path to make a photo…ruining the field as Max just explained to me earlier on…

Catched up GR markers. Going up steep ski slope 11:20am

Telesiege de l’aiguille Ste Foy Tarentaise ski domain 11:25am. L’Arpettaz hamlet 2018m

Going down on wide dirt road

Chapelle st guerin 1900m 11:35am
Archeboc marked 2h15
Going down in the woods

Plan St Andre 12am 1700m.Staying on the main wide path (flat then down on the right side) .Plan st andre intersection 12:01am, going up right wide path

Les Savonnes 1900m 1pm. Col du Mont marked 2 hours

Refuge de l’Archeboc 1:20pm 2030m. Ordered salade composée 8euros + beer 2,9euros. Not unfriendly people here. Asked if they had people tonight. They (husband and wife i supposed) answered : No

May be side effects of their past behaviour…will never know (read a lot of bad feedbacks in the via alpina roadbook).

Start from here alpine course to reach Archeboc peak at 3220m

Leaving refuge Archeboc 1:50pm. Col du Mont marked 1h40

Reached Col du Mont 3:15pm 2615m. Few neves to cross and some to detour from before reaching top. Quite intense/steep from refuge Archeboc

Going down following Alta Via Glaciale markers. Only 10-15min of nice and fast snow walking down.

There are more than one way to go down. Skipped lake San Grato.Went straight down to first potential shelter/hut marked on the map.

4:15pm 2135m reached old sheep house..rotten and very smelly inside..must be desperate to stay here 🙂 it is open tho and someone forced a window to get in.

There is another hut/shelter marked on the map not far. Will go and checked it out.

Disturbed 2 Marmottes kissing each other on the smooth & wide path going down.

5pm reached first Aosta vallee hamlet. A shepperd is living here.

Decide to go knock door.

Giulio the shepperd came out of the house. He speaks French. 2 shepperds stays here.Mohammed is the second one (speak only italian). Can stay at there house for the night.

So great really… what a way to end up yet another fantastic day on the Via Alpina.

The best is yet to come…

“Here it is Aosta not Italia” said Giulio to me

Walking time : 7h45
Resting time : 2h20
Distance covered : 32,1km
Altitude : 1982m
Date : friday 28th june 2013

They have 32 cows up here in the alpage.

16 are owned by Giulio the others are rented and paid with cheese to the owner (even if nowadays they rather get paid with money)

The milking was finished at 5pm.Now taking the cow out in the field before taking them back in around 8:30pm.

Went out with Giulio filming and he taught me a lot about the alpage life in the Valgrisenche vallee. His grandfather was thinking ahead and bought a lot of parcels of the alpage in the 50s.

Giulio explained a lot about his hard work.
Milking cows twice a day. Between 4 & 6am and 3 to 5pm every day.

Mohammed is working for Giulio and takes care of the cow milking and the stable cleaning too.
Giulio takes and look after the cow in the alpage with his dog.

The milk is sold to the cooperative to make the Fontina cheese.

Giulio has first came here in the alpage at age 7 to 15. He is coming back here from around June 15th to September 30th every year since 1996.

He is a hard working man. Cannot believe his staying out 3hours tonight with the cows. The wind is freezing cold outside. Could not stay more than one hour with him. Came back to the hut.

Suggested to Giulio that he should open one of the hamlet house/hut..put some bunk beds and offer accommodation for hikers.

He is 46 now and don’t feel like starting a project like this now.

He does not know how long he will keep on coming up here. Who will come here next in the alpage when he won’t come back ?

Giulio makes sure he takes the cows at specific spot in the alpage because if the milk is good and the cheese good then his revenue will be higher.

Many different milk are mixed up all together so if one does provide bad milk it will ruin everybody’s revenue.

Thoses 2 men are amazingly courageous to be able to live such a hard life and they are having me in their house for the night without questioning…

Mohamed is 36 and married. His wife is in Marocco and they have a 2 month old son that he did not see yet.

Mohamed is staying 10month in Aosta taking care of cows and get back to his familly for 2month at the end of september when the cow will go back down

7:50pm Giulio is still outside with the cows…
Mohamed started some fire.

They have electricity here and i asked mohamed how they got it.

They use and transform the water coming down the mountain to generate the electricity they need (using some turbine engine)
How amazing is that?

Cannot believe that this place here is only at a day walking distance from Tignes 5 stars residences that they are building now in Tignes les Boisses…

Giulio went to school with the Swiss Grand St Bernard Chanoines who came down in the Aosta vallee.

He studied for 6 years and get instruction from them in French.

Giulio never took any vacation.
In 1992 after drinking too much he did not go milking the cows on easter monday.

Giulio lino angelo antonio & Mohamed had a bed with mattress, a blanket and a roof in their shepperd house for me tonight. What a great day!



Near Nantcruet hamlet


Max 74 in front of his La Combaz house


On the way to Col du Mont

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