Fail Map

Thumbnail for the map of the failed Schweizmobil 'Les Cols du Grand St. Bernard' (210) hiking trail, opens link to interactive web map.
Source1

Original Map

Thumbnail for the map of the Schweizmobil 'Les Cols du Grand St. Bernard' (210) hiking trail, opens link to interactive web map.
Source1

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile of the Schweizmobil 'Les Cols du Grand St. Bernard' (210) hiking trail.
Source1: Bundesamt für Landestopografie; Drawn with schweizmobilplus.ch

Useful Links

Route Source
Bus Stop
Parking
Weather

Short Description

‘Les Cols du Grand St. Bernard’ – “The Passes of Great St. Bernard” is a border-crossing, circular hiking route in the southwestern Swiss (and Italian) Alps.

Having always been an important point of transit between Italy and Switzerland, the region features several historic (pedestrian) passes, three of which are part of this route.

From the lacs de fenetre (“The window lakes”), hikers get to enjoy views of the Mont Blanc range in the distance across the valley. Not that there’s a shortage of spectacular views along this high alpine trail.

Finally, the hospice at the Lac du Grand Saint Bernard – where the route starts and ends – offers a local history museum and in Summer, guided tours with St. Bernard dogs are available for booking. This is where they were originally bred, after all.

You may have noticed the two maps; We went off route twice during this hike, the second instance of which we were more than a bit confused for longer than we care to admit, due to a sign that was contradicting the map. I’m including our failed route in this report so that you may learn from our mistakes.

Notes

  • I made them aware of one particularly misleading sign near the Lacs de Fenetre, so that may be corrected by now.

Impressions

We started this long and partially difficult hike off on the wrong foot, or rather path (once again because we didn’t have an offline map and there was no internet).

After the walk along the lake shore, the actual trail would have started after a small monument/park that was packed with tourists we were trying to avoid. The only signs and trail we saw, though, led up a mountain north of the lake, which was fairly popular too, but unfortunately not our chosen route for the day.

Nice view, too bad it’s from the wrong path.

Having found the correct trail, we managed to stay on it until the Lacs de Fenetre, supposedly so named because they offer a kind of window to the terrific panorama of the Mont Blanc range. Lovely trail and views.

Shortly after the lakes, however, we came across a sign post with our route number 210 pointing downhill to the west, while by all that is right, our path should be leading uphill to the east. On the other hand, the map showed three paths where there were really only two.

Image depicting the first of the three "Lacs de Fenetre", with the Italian Alps in the background.
The first of the three “Lacs de Fenetre”.

Jenny and I had a bit of a fight over which was the correct path and I went back and forth more than once because it just didn’t feel right. In the end, we managed to get on the right path, which led in the opposite direction the sign suggested.

I don’t know if someone messed with the sign, but it’s a reasonable explanation. I also wonder how many people we saw on that wrong path actually wanted to go in the direction they were going. It was a valid hiking trail too, after all.

Image of Grand Golliat mountain and the valley below, as seen from a bit off route of the -Cols-du-Grand-St.-Bernard hiking trail.
Going the wrong way again. Beautiful view of Grand Golliat Mountain though.

Anyway, after we were back on track, and tempers cooled a bit, we were able to enjoy the magnificent bit of nature we had the privilege to traverse today – if a bit under time pressure now to make it back before sunset.

Side note: The altitude can definitely lower your endurance/performance. it depends on individual physiology, blood composition / nutrition, and training of course.

Image of the narrow, sandy trail along a steep shale slope during the 'Les Cols du Grand St. Bernard' hiking trail.
View along the way. Also the most technically difficult portion of the hike.

Racing against the sun a bit, we basked in views of the Swiss and Italian alps during sunset, while stepping quickly but carefully from boulder to boulder through the rubble fields of the penultimate portion of the hike. Thankfully the last bit was a regular gravel trail again and we made it back to the car just in time for nightfall.

Image of an alpine sunset with only the peaks of teh mountains still lit in the evening red light, as seen during the 'Les Cols du Grand St. Bernard' hiking trail in Switzerland.
Beautiful sunset mood, and close to the finishing line.

All in all, a magnificent area to be hiking in, and a great trail that I would like to attempt a second time without all the involuntary detours.

Would you like to share your own experiences with this hike? Do you have any questions? Something to add? Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂


Route Report / Gallery

Full size images without watermarks are available for licensing to interested parties. Check romans.pictures for a selection of my favorites, or contact me for details.

  • Picture of the lake and Italian side of the Grand St. Bernard border.
  • Image of a rickety fence consisting of metal rods and loose planks, securing the trail on the Italian side of the 'Col du Grand St. Bernard hiking trail.
  • Image depicting the first of the three "Lacs de Fenetre", with the Italian Alps in the background.
  • Image depicting the first of the three "Lacs de Fenetre", with the Italian Alps in the background.
  • Image of a stone passage over a river, with an adult and juvenile sheep on the green grassy hill on the other side, as seen during the 'Les Cols du Grand St. Bernard' hike.
  • Image of Grand Golliat mountain and the valley below, as seen from a bit off route of the -Cols-du-Grand-St.-Bernard hiking trail.
  • Image of the narrow, sandy trail along a steep shale slope during the 'Les Cols du Grand St. Bernard' hiking trail.
  • Image of an alpine sunset with only the peaks of teh mountains still lit in the evening red light, as seen during the 'Les Cols du Grand St. Bernard' hiking trail in Switzerland.

NEWSLETTER

Don’t miss a hike 🙂

Basic Data

Date of Hike:2020-08-21
Participants:Roman, Jenny
Technical Difficulty:T3+: Difficult Mountain Trail

Stats

Roman’s Failed Version

Km14.5
Net Hours (Est.)6.25
Net Hours (Act.)6.75
Ascent (m)1261
Descent (m)1261
Max. Alt. (m)2754
Loop?Yes
Cable Car?No

Official Version

Km12
Net Hours (Est.)5
Ascent (m)1044
Descent (m)1044
Max. Alt. (m)2754
Loop?Yes
Cable Car?No
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