Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Lat/Lon: 46.08180°N / 6.93790°E
Elevation: 8671 ft / 2643 m


Bel Oiseau is an easy accessible summit over Emosson with a remarkable view on the Mont Blanc massif.

The mountain has two summits separated by a deep hollow :
- the northern summit, highest point
- the southern summit, 2628 m, with the best panorama.

Origin of the name.
Bel Oiseau (= "pretty bird") comes from latin aucellum = bird. Aucellum is a wrong substitution of the gaul name auxello = high point, crossing.

Bel Oiseau is located on the lateral mountain chain which spreads from Tour Sallière in SE direction and is the southernst point before the Gueulaz collar (1965 m). The chain goes on on the other side with les Perrons. The summit dominates the Emosson dam in the west, the Eau Noire (black water) valley with Finhaut and Chatelard in the east. In the north, Bel Oiseau collar separates the summit from the Rochers Rouges. At Pointe de Blantsin (2678 m), the Bel Oiseau chain overtakes to the chains of Fontanabran and Fenestral.

Getting There

Start point is Finhaut.

To get there :
- by car from Martigny (Switzerland) over Col de la Forclaz or from Chamonix (France) over Col des Montets.

- by train with the Mont Blanc express from Martigny or Chamonix.

- nearest airport is Geneva.

Red Tape

The road to Emosson dam is closed in winter. Park free.

The Chatelard funicular is very expensive.

When To Climb

Bel Oiseau is a summer climb. Great danger of avalanches in winter.

Mountain Conditions

Meteo Valais

Routes Overview

1) West face = normal route from Emosson.

2) South face : direct route from La Gueulaz. No path. Not recommended.

3) NE Couloir from Fenestral chalets : PD climb on loose rocks. Not recommended.

The summit

Summit view :
- Emosson dam steep below.
- the Mont Blanc chain with Trient glacier, Grands glacier, Tour needle, Tour glacier, Needles of Argentière and Chardonnet, Verte, Dru, Geant tooth, Chamonix needles, Mont Blanc.
- in the south, Perrons, Buet, Cheval Blanc,
- the W : Finive, Tenneverge, Prazon, Ruan, Tour Sallière
- in the N : Luisin, Rhone valley
- in the E : Eau Noire valley with Vallorcine, Trient and Forclaz collar.


- Col de la Gueulaz Inn (1965 m)
Solange Gay-Crosier and Frank Lugon-Moulin CH-1925 Finhaut

- Old Emosson Hut (2160 m)

- Loriaz Hut
74660 VALLORCINE, Mr Dominique Ancey T. 04 50 54 06 45


Camping des Marecottes
1923 Les Marécottes
M. Jean-Michel Gross
Tel: ++41 27 761 18 30

Camping de Van d'en Haut
1922 Salvan
Tel: ++41 27 761 11 26
Fax: ++41 27 761 19 29
Open from 01/06 to 30/09

Emosson Dam

The Emosson Dam is situated in the Swiss Alps, near the French border, 1930 meters above sea level, near the Swiss town of Martigny. Completed in 1975, the dam is 180 m high and at its coping is 554 m long with a thickness varying from 9 m (coping) to 48.5 m (footing). Water is collected during the warm seasons, when the snow and the glaciers melt, and used during the cold seasons, when the demand for electricity is greater. The dam's maximum capacity is approximately 225 million cubic meters. There are three principal collectors that guide the water from the Alps glaciers to the dam: the west and south collectors guide water from the French Alps and the east collector from the Swiss Alps. Two power plants exploit the water, the Vallorcine in France (1125 m.a.s.l.) and the La Bâtiaz (462.5 m.a.s.l.) in Switzerland. In 1997/98 the total annual production of electricity was 936.6 GWh using 369.9 million cubic meters of water. The Swiss-French enterprise "Electricité d'Emosson SA" manages and distributes the obtained electrical energy.

Chatelard Funicular

Those who like thrills can take the breathtaking Châtelard Funicular whose two cars run along the steepest slope in the world : 87% permits a difference in altitude of 700 meters in just 12 minutes !
The scenic train ride then crosses forests and rocky terrain, offering at every moment stupendous view-points of the Mont-Blanc Massive (4810m u.s.l.).
And lastly, the Minifunic enters the impressive 180-meter high archway barrage of Lake Emosson.