OverviewPointe Lechaud is many things: a fantastic panoramic point; a classic ski-alpinism "randoneé"; a little know and lonely goal for a not-too-strenuous day in the Alps. All in all, a mountain that deserves to be better known outside the boundaries of Valle D'Aosta. While thousands of hikers pass near its slopers every year while crossing the Col De La Seigne (on the TMB route), few know of PL existence. Too bad.
While not part of the Mt Blanc group (actually, it's the last peak of the Northern Graian Alps), PL position as belvedere over the head of the Val Veny, just in front of the Aiguille Des Glaciers, makes it a previleged point to observe Mt. Blanc in all its western glory.
Getting ThereFrom Courmayeur (Italy)
Courmayeur can be reached from Geneva via Chamonix and the MB tunnel, or from Milan or Turin via the A5 toll highway
- By car: through the Val Veny mountain road until the car park at La Visaille / Plan Lognan or (500 m. below) at Plan Veny (near the picnic area). Private access to this road is regulated from 1 to 20 August .
- By the bus service: one trip each 40 minutes. In Courmayeur the bus can be taken from the Bus Station (near the tunnel highway entrance).
From La Thuile (Italy)
La Thuile (1430m) can be reached from Geneva via Chamonix, the MB tunnel, Courmayeur and Pre St. Didier. Or from Turin (or Milan via Ivrea) through the A5 toll highway via Aosta (at the Morgex exit, follow the state road SS26 in the Courmayeur direction until Pre St. Didier) At Pre St. Didier follow the "La Thuile - Piccolo San Bernardo" indications. The road (after several turns) goes up the narrow valley until the La Thuile basin (12 km from Pre St. Didier).
- By car: At la Thuile follow the "Piccolo San Bernardo" indications, until the little hamlet of Pont Serrand (car park). The road to the Chavannes Valley and the Pointe Lechaud starts few meters before Pont Serrand, on the right.
Red TapeUntil 1992 it used to be possible to drive up to the Combal plan, and even up to the Elisabetta Hut (if you had a four wheel drive vehicle). However, massive rockfalls from the Mont Fortin (on the southern side of the Combal basin) and increasing pollution problems made local authorities decide to put a barrier at La Visaille / Plan Lognan. And so, you have to walk all the 5 kms from the car parking to the Elisabetta, as it used to be until 1970.
In the area mineral and flower collection is forbidden. The same goes for making fires, and free camping under 2500 m. Hunting and fishing goes under local seasonal rules (ask in Courmayeur).
Normal RouteThere's basically one way to climb up the Pointe Lechaud, with two access:
Access from the Val Veny
From the Elisabetta Hut take the TMB path for few hundred meters, then take the left path marked "Alta Via 2 - Colle Di Chavannes". The trail cross the little valley, and then goes up gently on the opposite side, reaching the Col de Chavannes (2603m.) in little more than 1.30h from the Elisabetta
Access from the Chavannes Valley
This long but extremely atmospheric route is usually done by mountain bikers, but can be easily walked as a normal hike. From Pont Serrand (but most of the people drive up to the Porassey barrier), follow the narrow road (asphalt in the first part, then dirt) all the way to the Col de Chavannes (2603). The beautiful Chavannes is first a Tolkienesque green valley with huge rock walls on the opposite sides, then opens up near the Berrio Blanc hamlets (inhabited again in summer after years of abandon), where the road makes a huge and gently ascending curve up to the Chavannes Col.
At the col, on the right you can see a tiny concrete barrack built as part of the Italy defensive system before WWII.
From the col, take the path on the right (looking towards the Chavannes side - marked "Alta Via 4"). This crosses almost horizontally the steep grassy slope of Mount Lechaud. While elementary, it goes across several gullies, very often snow filled. Be careful expecially on the last one (the biggest): the maintainer of this page, when absent mindedly strolling up the Lechaud one afternoon, lost his footing while crossing this gully, and avoided a 200 m. sudden descent just because of a lucky ice axe maneuver.
The trail then reaches the lonely Chavannes plain, part of the even more lonely and remote Lechaud - Miravidi - Arguerey plateau. Leaft it near a group of beautiful glacial lakes (great place for sunbathing!), then go straight up the moraine and the slopes of the Chavannes glacier, without a fixed path. The glacier itself is easy and relatively safe. Try staying as much as possible on the right, then reach the summit "tower" (actually, a tiny rock lump). Scramble above it and reache the summit platform - then enjoy the view. 1.30h from Col De Chavannes (I always take more because of extensive relax at the lakes!)
The descent is made on the same route. A strategy used by mountain bike enthusiasts is to go up from Chavannes, leave the bik at the col, climb the Lechaud and then go back to the col and make the descent toward Val Veny and Courmayeur. I'm no mountain biker, but friends tell me that the descent towards the Elisabetta is quite stiff.
When To ClimbPoint Lechaud is a all year round mountain. In summer its a hiking (and partially mountain bike) target. In winter it used to be a ski alpinism classic (with some avalanche danger on the lower slopes on the Chavannes side). However - and unfortunately - in the last few years the Lechaud-Miravidi area has been discovered by winter heli ski. Being this practice forbidden in France, French heli ski companies bring often ski enthusiasts on the Italian side, exploiting the much more relaxed Italian rules. And of course, this kind of "sport" it's becoming more and more popular in Italy itself.
CampingFree camping in the Aosta Valley region is not allowed below 2500 m. However, it's tolerated if you don't create hassles or particular troubles. This includes, of course, making fires in the woods!
Here's a list of camping in Val Veny, all accessible by car or by bus from Courmayeur. In strict alphabetical order:
- Camping Aiguille Noire (www.aiguillenoire.com, ) - in Val Veny, at Zerotta, near lower station of the chair lift. (tel. +39 0165 869041 Fax +39 0165 843097). A good place for families and big groups. Used to be also the cheapest, but price right now are almost the same everywhere.
- Camping Cuignon – in Val Veny between Zerotta and the military barracks (tel +39 0165 869073 Fax +39 0165 842861). This one is a bit of a question mark for me, because I don’t know anyone who’s been there. For outside it looks quite neat and smaller than Aiguille Noire
- Camping La Sorgente (www.campinglasorgente.net, ) – in Val Veny, in a clearing of the forest called Peuterey, exactly under the Mont Noir south face (tel. +39 0165 848209 or, in summer +39 0165 869089). The location of this one is gorgeous (the ancient forest nearby is said to have been a Celtic worship centre). They’re really climber-friendly, and the camping itself is well organised.
- Camping Grandes Jorasses ( www.grandesjorasses.com) in Val Ferret between Planpincieux and the golf course. (tel +39 0165 869708). Being near Planpincieux, it’s a lively and well placed on a partially wooden area.
- Camping Tronchey – in Val Ferret just in front of the entrance of the golf club, right under the monstrous Tronchey Wall of the Grandes Jorasses. (tel. +39 0165 869707). Nearby there’s Bar Tronchey (or “Chez Giulietta”), where at noon you can eat an incredible rabbit with polenta.
- If you’re willing to spend a little more, a nice alternative to camping can be the ( Chalet Val Ferret). It’s a seven room little hotel + restaurant at Arnouva, where the Val Ferret road ends – just in front of the opening of the Triolet basin. The place is beyond gorgeous, and you’re in a good position both for climbing and hiking. A guide who’s a friend of mine used it for his climbing stage for kids and was really enthusiastic. Also, you can ask the manager for any kind of indication on the nearest sport and trad climbs of the trendy Triolet area.
- On the other hand, if you don’t like camping and you’re tight with money, you can consider sleeping in one of the low altitudes “refuges”. There are the ( Elisabetta hut ), at the head of Val Veny near the Col De La Seigne, the ( Elena hut ) and the (UGET Monte Bianco hut) In all these places accommodation varies - the Elisabetta is quite spartan, the Elena almost a luxurious, the Monte Bianco somewhere halfway. If you want to consider staying there for several days, you’ve to book well in advance (In August and July these places become packed with hikers doing the Tour De Mont Blanc.)
Mountain ConditionsFor all informations on the mountain conditions you MUST contact the Company of Guides of Courmayeur (tel. +39 0165 842064; fax. +39 0165 842357; email [email protected]). They’ve an excellent local weather service, and are always well informed on the conditions up there
The quickest source of informations on the weather on the southern side of the massif is the webcam at
Remember that this cam "sees" only the central portion of the main ridge - Point Lechaud is located three of miles to the left. This very informative site has also plenty of informations on accomodation, place where to eat, etc. in the area.