Haute Route Glacier Trek - Day 1
Day to day description, map and photos

Day 1 - Chamonix to the Orny hut

The Village of Le Tour, where we leave the valley and ride the chairlift up to the Col de Balme. Chamonix can be seen down-valley and Mont Blanc rises just out of view to the left.

Leaving the comfort of town behind we begin our journey above the hamlet of Le Tour, where a chairlift takes us to about 2200 meters, not far from the Col de Balme. Our goal is to climb up along side the Tour Glacier, cross the Col Superior du Tour to reach the Trient Glacier, and finally the Cabane d'Orny.

This is a big day, with a total elevation gain of almost 1100 meters (3600 feet).

Our walk begins with a long traverse contouring steep ridges high above the séracs of the Tour Glacier. With all of the Mont Blanc massif, the Chamonix Valley and the Aiguilles Rouges spread out before us, it can be hard to keep moving as every corner we turn offers yet another (and better still! surely!) photo opportunity.

After passing by the Albert premier hut in the morning we ascend the Tour glacier to the Col Supérieur du Tour at nearly 3300 meters. From there we cross into Switzerland and descend gentle, though heavily crevassed glacier slopes to the stunningly situated Cabane d'Orny, on the edge of the glacier plateau at 2831 meters. Our views from the sunny terrace take in the sawtoothed profile of the Aiguilles Dorées.




On the trail up to the Albert Premier hut. These hikers are heading back down to the valley.

The trail up to the hut climbs beside the Glacier du Tour. The Aiguille du Chardonnet is a dominating presence.

Séracs at the edge of the Glacier du Tour. The peaks of the Aiguille Rouges behind are across the Chamonix Valley.

Day 1 - Col de Balme to Orny hut
total vertical gain
1095 m
3592 ft
total vertical loss
462 m
1515 ft
max elevation
3288 m
10,785 ft
minimum elevation
2193 m
7193 ft
10.9 km
6.8 miles


The violet line shows the bus ride from Chamonix to Le Tour and the chairlift to the Col de Balme at 2193 meters. The red line is the trekking route to the Orny hut, 2826 meters.

Walking across the Plateau du Trient. The Aiguilles Dorées form the saw-tooth ridge behind. The Grand Combin is the big peak in the background on the far left.

Crossing the Plateau du Trient. In this view we are looking west back towards the Col Supérieur du Tour and the Franco-Swiss border. You can just make out the faint track in the snow leading to the Col. The Aiguille du Tour is the prominent peak on the right.

Continue on to Day 2.....