On Wednesday Morning, dark and early, a fellow named Pascal who worked at Sylvains lab picked me up at 6:30 for a hike. We had met earlier and, as his internship was finished on Monday, decided to spend some of our free time hiking together.
A drive about one hour up into the Chartreuse Mountains brought us to the Col de Marcieu where we parked and started walking up through the grassy fields of a small ski resort. Soon we gained some old decommissioned logging roads, now used to bring sheep to pasture during the summer.
We were a bit disappointed that the weather seemed to be uncooperative, having thought it might be a nice sunny day. As the sun hadn’t been up long, we were still shrouded in heavy fog.
As we made our way up the steep trail, we could begin to see the outline of large cliffs ahead, and continuing, discovered shortly that we were breaking forth from the top of the cloud layer into a bright, sunny day.
Upon ascending the final bit to reach the Chartreuse Plateau, we had amazing views in every direction above, what in French is called une mer de nuage, a sea of clouds.
We descended briefly onto the plateau and, as it was still early, decided to head up the other side to reach the summit of Les Lances de Malissard, one of four 2,000 meter peaks in the Chartreuse. The plateau was shaped much like a large, shallow halfpipe descending to the north, scattered with large boulders and sheep trails.
It was, in a word, a typical alpage, or alp, a beautiful place. An easy trail lead up the other side and we soon found ourselves standing beside the rustic wooden cross marking the summit.
Spectacular views above the dense sea of clouds in all directions, with a clear view to Mont Blanc, a huge and beautiful mountain to the northeast, the biggest in the Alps and all of western Europe. We decided to descend via a different trail, so retraced our steps down the small step of 3rd class terrain back to our packs at a small pass.
Walking along trails to the south, we found a trail descending to a road and followed it until finding ourselves in a small village high up in the mountains, about 8km from the car. Pascal thought it would be easy to hitch a lift back to the car, and indeed, the first car we hailed picked him up and he returned with the car to get me. We were back in Grenoble by 1, with a great outing behind and a nearly full day still ahead.