Walking on cloudy days from Argentiere

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There is nothing better than walking along a high ridge under one of those crystal skies where,  looking up from the horizon, the colour quickly deepens from the normal blue to a deep space blue and you feel you are so much closer to the edge of the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, Frigg the Norse Goddess of clouds can sometimes bestow a little too much of her blessing on the mountains. BUT all is NOT lost for your days hiking.

Low level

The easiest way is to get out of the clouds is to be below them.

Around our chalet favorite hikes on low cloud days are circular walks on the ‘Petit’ Balcon’ paths. From our doorstep we have circuits to the east and west. These paths meander just above the valley floor. Steep sections are never too long, nor are flat section long and dull. These are interesting walks of moderate intensity.

Themed walks

When there is little to see of the large scale landscape, look at the smaller things. Trails introducing history, flora and culture have been set up in several parts of the valley. None are very long but amongst our favourites are the historical walk around old Servoz village and the botanical trail in Les Houches. Each can be done in an hour and our own suggestion is to link them by taking a trail through the tall forest between the 2 villages. Together they male a full days walking.

International

Chamonix’s position near the meeting point of the Swiss, Italian and French borders is more than a geographical interest point. It is the separating point between different climate zones and the high mountains nearly always have different weather on ‘the other side.’

If we have heavy clouds from the North, pop through the Mont Blanc tunnel and explore the undeveloped Val Ferret and Val Veny. These valleys have extensive trail networks, hikeable peaks and unbelievable in-your-face views of the Mont Blanc range’s highest peaks.

When greyness looms in from the west head for Switzerland. The valleys radiating from Martigny offer every thing; Saunter around the fruit orchards and bonuses of the valley floor and lower slopes for something relaxed, stride the mellow meadows sprinkled with chocolate box cute chalets to the summit of Mont de L’ Arpille for warmer muscles or go into the wild limestone cliff landscape leading to the Fully lakes.

Gorges

Sometimes a few smudges of mist can add to the atmosphere. There are gorges in the area where the outside weather is almost irrelevant. The Diosaz starting in Servoz is pretty and interesting but an entry fee is charges. Our recommended one is just over the border into Switzerland. The Tete Noire gorge is so magical expect to catch faeries and elves if you can walk quietly enough. A few wraiths of mist in the air adds to the sense of other worldliness.

Strategy

Max on the good weather, save cloudy day hikes if the forecast is less sunny.

Select the season. June and September have a better chance for settled weather spells. Also everywhere is less crowded.