Rob Haggan has never stopped searching for hiking nirvana. From rugged Snowdonia to the sweeping mountains of New Zealand’s breathtaking South Island, he’s explored and conquered trails across multiple continents and diverse environments.
Yet it’s the French Alps which vie for the top spot in Rob’s mind. The landscape around Chamonix, to be specific. It’s here that he discovered the high altitude mountain lake of Lac Blanc, after reading a local guide book that described it as a ‘must-do’ hike. “I didn’t need much convincing to get my boots on and go and see for myself.”
Hiking to Lac Blanc
Reached by numerous hiking trails, Lac Blanc is set in a rocky bowl. In the centre, crystal clear waters reflect a perfect image of the ever-majestic Mont Blanc.
“The hike up to the lake is incredible. I’ve never seen views like it, wherever you look it feels like you’re living in a dreamscape. Across the valley lies the Mont Blanc Massif, a stunning snow-capped mountain range containing the highest mountain in Europe.”
If the weather is kind, hikers can watch the sun rise and set over Europe’s king of the mountains, an unforgettable sight. As Rob says, “Any hike described as a must-do in this unbeatable landscape was always going to be pretty special. But just to make it even better we had near perfect weather conditions.”
If visibility is good, there is much to see. As part of the nature reserve of the Aiguilles Rouges, it’s possible to spot wild animals such as bouquetin, chamois, marmots and deer.
1500 metres in the sky
One of the most popular ways to access hiking routes to Lac Blanc is to climb just over 1500 metres in the Flégère cable car, rising slowly from the famous resort of Chamonix, which stands at just over 1000 metres.
“A big part of the elevation gain is achieved before you take your first step,” Rob says. “But that’s definitely not a bad thing, and what it really means is that you have epic views down to the Chamonix Valley right from the start of the hike.”
From here, there is a well marked trail comprising a fair amount of loose scree, with plenty of undulation. But within a couple of hours the lake begins to unfold.
“But go prepared. Lac Blanc sits in an exposed, high alpine environment with little shade or greenery,” Rob advises. “We packed plenty of layers expecting the temperature to drop significantly once we were up there. Strangely, that didn’t seem to happen, and it was still in the mid-twenties when we reached Lac Blanc at 2352 metres above sea level.”
“Extreme heat coupled with increased UV exposure mean water bottles and sun cream are essential kit. In those kind of temperatures we needed at least a couple of litres of water each for a half-day walk.”
And if you’re well prepared, the hike itself isn’t punishing.
“The Lac Blanc hike was really just an introduction to hiking in the Alps for me, a relatively easy half-day hike to take in the views and understand what the trails are like in the mountains above Chamonix. The possibilities beyond this are almost endless.”
There are hundreds of trails surrounding the whole area. Hardcore hikers can take on the Tour du Mont Blanc hike, a 170 kilometre multi-day hike that circles the Mont Blanc Massif. “That’s definitely on my bucket list,” says Rob. But allow at least 10 days to smash this route.
The French Alps have definitely got him hooked. “Adventure Capital’ is one of those really overused expressions, but the name sticks when you think of Chamonix. I see myself going back there many times. You have to live it to believe it.”
Rob Haggan’s mission is simple, he wants to inspire people everywhere to spend more time outdoors. Husband, father and part-time adventurer, Rob set up The Outdoor Adventure Blog as an information source so others can begin to define their own adventure. Keep up with Rob on Twitter and Instagram.