Map used: 1:50,000 Arolla hiking map, 283T
Date: 5th of August, 2005
Distance, Elevation Gain/Loss: 10.6 km, 1,684/593 m
Cabane de Moiry: 612 127 / 104 379
On Friday the 5th of August I packed my belongings, and sent everything except my backpack to Geneva. Next day I set out for Zinal, spending the first night at the Cabane de Moiry.
As I had often walked from Evolène or les Haudères to the villages of La Sage and La Forclaz I felt that taking the early morning bus to la Forclaz was not "cheating". It saved me about three kilometers and 300 meters of elevation gain.
View Evolene to Moiry in a larger map
From La Forclaz to the Cabane de Moiry
From La Forclaz to Motau (about 1¼ kilometers with 200 meters elevation gain) was easy, then the trail started getting steep. At about 2,100 meters there is a choice; either take an easy switchback or go straight up. I chose to go straight up, and a bit before reaching Le Tsaté stopped to catch my breath and enjoy the scenery. While stopped I heard voices speaking English; I waited to see who they belonged to. A couple soon appeared, and I greeted them with a short "Damned steep!!". They laughed and agreed that taking the switchback would have been easier. Soon we were joined by a second British couple.
We hiked up together to the cowsheds that are the Remointse du Tsaté, taking the road for the last switchback rather than following the trail straight up. There we parted, with the faster British group going ahead. Shortly beyond the cowsheds there is a fork which I did not see, and I took the wrong branch. After some time I heard voices far away; they were clearly to my right (south of me) rather than ahead of me, so I had a good look at the map. Realizing my mistake I turned around.
Later I found that the path I took leads to the Lac du Tsaté, from which it is possible to ascend the Pointe du Tsaté. Banzhaf suggests, as a variation, going up the Pointe du Tsaté. From the summit he suggests returning to the lake, and from there following a rough path that leads to the standard route. This adds about three hours to what is already a long trip!
Shortly after rejoining the correct trail I was passed by a young couple. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and I told them about my mistake. They laughed, having done the same thing on a previous trip! Today they were doing an interesting trip. They were going over the Col du Tsaté, then down to the Lac de la Bayenna, from which they planned to go north on the Haut Tour du Lac, at the 2,500 meter contour, to the Alpage du Torrent, where they would pick up the trail ascending to the Col de Torrent, from where they would return.
I rejoined the British group at the col, where they had stopped for a long time to enjoy the views. We descended together, and stopped again at the pretty Lac de la Bayenna, and once again at the small buvette at the Parking du Glacier, where we had some refreshments.
We then turned south for the final push to the Cabane de Moiry, about three kilometers and 400 meters away. At first the path was easy, then we started walking on the crest of the lateral moraine, which gradually got narrower. Many paths went down from the crest; I left it early as I was uncomfortable on the narrow ridge. There were many patches of snow or ice in the depression besides the moraine. Finally we got to a steep climb, with innumerable switchbacks, leading to the hut.