Posted: August 11, 2017
Author: Susanna Magruder
The best hike in the Alps you have never heard of:
Mont Rogneux 3’084m – Val de Bagnes/Entremont Switzerland.
At the peak of August holidays, when families and throngs of tour groups flock to the over populated Swiss Resorts like Jungfrau, Zermatt, Lucerne, etc., it’s time to get off-the-beaten-path in the lesser-known regions of Switzerland.
Mont Rogneux - why this peak is little-known is a mystery to me; perhaps it is the lack of trains, cablecars, bells & whistles and souvenirs shops, or the little-marked road that leads to relatively easy access for a 3’000 meter peak.
The summit can be reached in about 2.5-3 hours from the end of the dirt road at the Écurie de Milles – where you can also visit the troupeau of cows managed by the Michellod family for the smaller laiterie lower down in the Mayens de Bruson (another wonderful side trip to the Rogneux). From their écurie, the road dwindles to a path marked with red and white striped poles (a reminder that this is also an epic ski tour), before climbing a few sharp switchbacks to the Col de Mille, the ridgeline dividing Val d’Entremont (the route to the Col Grand St. Bernard, home of the eponymous rescues dogs and the Roman Road to central Europe, still visible today – another side trip, with our home Val de Bagnes. At the Col 2473m, you can opt for a break at the Cabane de Mille, a nearly-new alpine hut with beds and warm food and cold beers served non-stop from June – Sept.
From the Col, the trail divides between the high-alpine route to the Rogneux marked with blue & white paint, and other routes in red & yellow headed to lower alpine hiking routes. At first gradual, the route quickly changes to a rocky ridgeline towards to the summit, where recent maintenance has made the trail hard to lose, between the blue and white markers and the obvious path between rocks. At the first false summit, the views of the surrounding 4000m peaks are revealed, a perfect place to catch your breath before continuing on to the Summit at 3084m. At the summit, the views are some of the best in the region, and in the Alps - especially from a summit with little technical difficulties. To the west, the massif du Mont Blanc, with its towering peaks, glaciers and green rolling farmland far below, to the south the massif des Combins, another lesser-known gem of Switzerland, the Grand Combin 4314m covered in a thick ice cap, and the slightly smaller Petit Combin 3663m in front, also one of our favorite heli-skiing drops during the winter seasons. To the north, you can see from the Dents du Midi above Champéry and the Val d’Illiez to the Bernese Alps, and around to the imposing peaks of the Val de Bagnes to the east. On top, you have the feeling and all of the rewards of summiting a much higher alpine peak, without the extra equipment, risk and time – which means you are not far from your next mountain hut and croûte au fromage!
Descent via the same route in about 1 hour to Col de Mille, or do a circular tour (longer) to the Cabane Brunet for a late afternoon snack or overnight, and pass back to the Ecurie de Mille via the beautiful and often vacant balcony trail underneath the north face of Mont Rogneux .
Up and back, Ecurie de Milles – Col de Mille – Rogneux – Col de Mille– Ecurie de Mille: 11km 950 up 950 down. About 5 hours
Round trip, Ecurie de Milles – Col de Mille – Rogneux – Cabane Brunet – Ecurie de Mille: 19km 1248 up 1248 down About 7 hours