“The best of the Grand Balcon Sud with a more interesting start.”
— Nick Wilder
Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Though this hike still has a steep start, it's much more fun the the beginning of the Grand Balcon Sud
; it starts in a lovely larch forest, has fun ladders to climb, and the initial climb is less of a switchback grunt. The stretch through the Reserve Naturelle des Aiguilles Rouge is particularly beautiful with ibex and wildflowers, and the views on the Grand Balcon Sud
From the large and popular parking area, start out in dense larch forest and enjoy the cool hike through the trees and moderate grade. You'll break out above treeline where the wide-open views await. This is a popular climbing place, both on the huge slabs of rock above you and especially on the Aiguillette - a really cool spire of rock right by the side of the trail (you won't miss it!)
Next up are many sets of steel ladders that are built right into the rock. They are up to 30' tall, and while not hard, these are not for people with any fear of heights - a fall could be deadly! Take a final set of steep switchbacks up to the intersection on the Grand Balcon Sud
. The views from this point are just spectacular.
Continue undulating up and down with nonstop views, trending downhill until you get to the Flegere ski area after rounding a major corner. The ski area has bulldozed and manipulated the hills quite a bit, which is a shame, but the views remain as good, or better, than before. You could take the Flegere lift down to Chamonix here, hike down to town, or extend this hike on to the Planpraz ski area.