trek itinerary in the Alps

Trek departing from chambéry with a reduced carbon footprint!

Sophie set herself a challenge: to go trekking with a group of people she hardly knew while minimizing her carbon footprint.
A challenge that was certainly accepted with this itinerary setting out from Chambéry, offering both magnificent views and burgeoning friendship!

The last days of summer combined with World Clean Up Day were the perfect excuse to plan a weekend in the mountains, while attempting to reduce my carbon footprint!

Some information about this mountain trek:

  • Duration of a trek


    2 days

  • Distance of a trek


    42 kilometres

  • Elevation of a trek

    Elevation gain

    +2000 metres
    Highest point: pointe de la Gorgeat 1486m

  • Difficulty intermediate level


    Intermediate level

  • Autonomy of a trek


    Full (bivouac)

  • Best time to travel

    Best time for this trek

    From May to October

Sophie's itinerary

(Trek completed in september 2020)

DAY 1  - Ambling along the Montagne de l’Épine ridge
- Chambéry train station - Vimines by shuttle
- Mont Grêle
- Saint Thibaud de Couz
- Col du Planet

DAY 2 - Criss-crossing the peaks north of the Chartreuse massif
- Rocher du Corbeley
- Mont Pellat
- Pointe de la Gorgeat
- Pointe de la Lentille
- Bec du Corbeau
- Chambéry train station Challes-Les-Eaux

Montagne de l'épine - Vimines

From vimines to mont grêle

7am departure from Chambéry train station; we took a shuttle to get the starting point of our trek:in Vimines, 7 km away. You can complete this stage on foot which will make the loop roughly 1.5 hours longer.

We made a start straight away, taking the superb forestry route up the montagne de l'Epine: 900 metres elevation gain over 10 km which certainly woke up our muscles.

We met a few hunters en route who chatted to us about their day and alerted us to the presence of wild boar and chamois mountain goats up ahead. After this long ascent, we were greeted with a beautiful reward on our arrival: Mont Grêle with its view of lac d’Aiguebelette and the Alps further to the east.

hike lac d'aiguebelette

From mont grêle to saint-thibaud-de-couz

We took advantage of the superb panoramic view from the top of Mont Grêle to have our lunch break before heading south towards Saint-Thibaud-de-Couz.

The descent was lovely, through large plains adorned with rowan trees, strewn with autumn crocuses and the Chartreuse mountain range just coming into view in front of us. Our group of walkers, newly formed just the day before, were starting to get to know each other with the joking well underway!

hike Saint Thibaud

From saint-thibaud to col du planet

Once we arrived in Saint-Thibaud, after 900 metres of uphill and almost as much downhill, we stopped off at the Relais des Alpes in the village. It was 4.30pm, we'd had enough and we knew that the next stop was another 3 km away and 650 metres further up the mountain.

Aurélie, the group's go-getter, had a bit of a sore ankle, Baptiste, our newbie trekker felt tired when he arrived, Éole, our anchor thought it would be sensible to find a nice bivouac site sooner rather than later, and Sophie said the sole reason for carrying her tent all day was because she wanted to pitch it as high up as possible!
The magic of being in group is that you have to accommodate everyone's concerns and preferences and so together we took the decision to climb up to Col du Planet.

bivouac col du Planet

Bivouacking at col du planet

We left in a light shower, the climb was tough, our bags were heavy...

When we arrived at Col du Planet, it felt like an oasis in the middle of the desert.The sun came out and magnificent trees stood imposingly around a plain of fresh grass:a soft mattress, just waiting for our tents.

A little further on up the trail, we were delighted to discover a source of drinking water so we could quench our thirst. We pitched our tents, prepared our meals and fell asleep quickly, lulled by the cry of a nocturnal raptor who was probably intrigued by our presence.

hike rocher du corbeley

(optional) Le rocher du corbeley

The previous day we'd spotted an interesting view point on the ordnance survey map which would make a nice early morning walk, depending on when we woke up, the state of our calves and the weather.
I woke up at 6 o'clock and knew that I could count on Baptise, the early riser of the group, to accompany me. One hour of walking with a head-torch, a bit of up and downhill and we reached the rocher du Corbeley where we witnessed the magical spectacle of day breaking over the Chartreuse mountains.

hike point de la Gorgeat

From col du planet to chambéry

Tea, a bit of muesli and then we packed up camp.

We headed off towards pointe de la Gorgeat through undergrowth that brought us out onto a wonderful path with a magical view of the Chartreuse mountain range.
We began the descent towards Chambéry via pointe de la Lentille and linked up to the GR footpath that took us right into the town centre, a few hours later.

We just had time to grab a coffee, swap our impressions of the weekend and then our train was already waiting to take us back to reality.

As a bonus...

trekking stove

Flora and fauna spotted

Fauna: chamois mountain goats, wild boars, nocturnal birds of prey that we certainly heard etc.
Flora: mushrooms (boletus, amadou and ceps) and autumn crocuses

My sustainability tip

With just a little resourcefulness, you can find some great, accessible routes close to home or trails you can reach by train.
Travelling without using a car is one step closer to protecting and respecting your outdoor playground. Having a small bin bag on you so you can pick up any rubbish you encounter en route is a great thing to do when out hiking, particularly during World Clean up Day.

My trekking anecdote: don't forget your mug!

My trekking anecdote: don't forget your mug!

The boys, who arrived well before the girls, went off in search of breakfast for the next day.
They were talking about coffee in the mini-market when Baptiste realised that he didn't have a beaker or a cup.
There were no department stores selling outdoor goods in the town centre. Our two companions found a knife shop but unfortunately it didn't sell any. The sales assistant redirected them to a shop selling cups...but they were china!

Unamused by this Savoyard skiing humour, our two front runners, in desperation, went into a shop selling organic and natural products and managed to find the last remaining, lightweight, enamel mug. It was unsold, damaged stock. Baptiste, rather sweaty after his efforts, was finally able to drink his coffee from his half-price mug. They were delighted with their find and recounted their adventure to the group stragglers; Aurélie completely cracked up, reminding him that she had packed Baptiste's cup in her bag, as he'd asked the night before. One could say that two cups are better than one!

Some pointers for this trek

Some pointers for this trek

Water supplies are clearly indicated on your ordnance survey map:the small blue dots may be very useful. We were fortunate to find a drinking water point at our bivouac site...a small luxury, there for the taking!

The stopover in Saint-Thibaud-de-Couz is lovely; it's a nice village in a pretty valley where the local residents take time to have a friendly chat with passing hikers.

My top pick

My top pick

We set off without really knowing each other, just wanting to immerse ourselves in the great outdoors for 2 days. When you're all different it takes a while to find your feet and understand how everyone works so you can move forward together in the same direction.
These differences in personality can cause problems in many everyday situations but out there, in the middle of the mountains, motivated by this shared goal of finishing together, it was a source of strength and I think that we'll remember this trip for a long time to come.

We were hugely lucky: no injuries, interesting people, mild weather, superb countryside, an ideal bivouac site...everything conspired in our favour which meant all our little group wanted was: to meet up again for our next trip!

My mountain essential

My mountain essential

My little pillow!
With the plain stretching out in front of me, I felt like I'd arrived in a palace. My small, ultralight, inflated Forclaz pillow provided the final touch of comfort that I needed for a great night's sleep.

I would have loved to have a bivy bag with me. The weather was mild, the grass was comfortable, and falling asleep with the stars as a backdrop is a dream I've yet to realize.

sophie, her trek to chambéry

Trek undertaken and narrated by sophie

Data product owner, looking to escape when she has free time

Her favourite quotation: "We go faster alone but further together!"

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