Solo backpacking around Mont Thabor

05 juillet 2022 to 08 juillet 2022
I had planned to do this hike in 2021 until the weather forecast forced me to cancel. Since then, I have been looking forward for this hike, and finally got a proper weather window!
The plan was to bring enough food for 5 days so that I had enough buffer in case of emergency, and to do the Tour du Mont Thabor from and to Valmeinier.

Day 1

I left Valmeinier in the middle of the afternoon, and started to walk in the direction of the Pas des Griffes.
The first few kilometers have a gentle slope until the steep climb of the Pas des Griffes which is awarded by an awesome view at the summit. The incredible mountains of the Massif des Cerces and the impressive Aiguille Noire on the far left which will be my next passing point.
I got chased by a few cows just before reaching the the Col de la Plagnette. They were somehow angry and made me run through marshlands, but they stopped once I the slope becane steeper.
I reached the pass at the end of the day when the sun was low on the horizon and the lights gave a magical side to the valley below.
It started to feel cold and found my first campsite on the heights of the Vallée de la Clarée, just a few minutes before sunset. It was an exhausting first day, I walked a much longer distance than my initial plan which was a good news for the next day.

Day 2

After a good night of sleep, I felt much more energized, and walked down to the Refuge des Drayères to refill my bottles and ask advices about today's route. I ended up directly going to the Col des Muandes, and then climb to the Mont Thabor. I initially planned to do this only the next day but based on how far I was able to walk on Day 1 it seemed a feasible thing to do.
As I reached the Col des Muandes and stopped for lunch, I became intimidated by the Mont Thabor.
It looked very high, the path to climb it seemed.. dangerous, and the weather extremely volatile as thick clouds and gusts seemed to be frequent and often hide the summit from my viewpoint.
I met a couple who were also oing to walk to the summit, and we decided to hike together. The good news is that I apparently wouldn't have to wear my snow gear as due to 2022's incredible heat, Mont Thabor was free from snow in July for the first time ever.
The summit timing was absolutely perfect. The volatile weather stopped, and it was all extremely sunny and windless.
It really felt like another planet, full of rocks, with a lonely church at the top. Some gliders were playing with the surrounding peaks
The view was absolutely breathtaking, and really awarded my patience for waiting after last year's cancellation.
However, I now was one day ahead on my schedule, so it was time to walk down and find a new place to camp, and refill my bottles since I was short on water.
The first section of the descent was extremely steep and rocky, and the surroundings became greener and greener, and I finally found a spot after the Lac du Peyron.

Day 3

After another good sleeping night I headed towards the Refuge du Mont Thabor. I wasn't sure where today would lead and where I would sleep that night, but I still had plenty of food and enough water to be autonomous whatever happened. Unfortunately, my phone's screen decided to stop working, which meant no pictures or cell coverage in case of emergency...
After a (welcome!) break at the Refuge des Marches where I was able to find a tool to open and "fix" my phone enough so that I could at least take pictures, I decided to climb to the Col des Marches, and instead of going to Valmeinier tonight I would try to find a place to sleep at the pass and simply finish my hike the next morning.
As I wanted to sleep high that night to properly conclude my hike, I decided to keep climbing higher and higher... Until the environment became very rocky and steep, without any flat area where I could setup my tent.
And finally, right below the Col des Marches I found the only "flat" area where I decided to try to setup my tent despite the wind gusts. My other choice was just to go to the other side but I wanted to avoid getting to close to the finish of my hike.
Although this only flat area was covered in three directions, the gusts became more and more violent as the temperature decreased. As the sunset started and the night was progressively taking over it really started to be freezing cold, as I was at around 2300m.
The night was great but extremely windy. I was very lucky to have brought my 4-season tent as I knew it could resist them. But I was still not very serene...

Day 4

Final day for my Tour du Mont Thabor ! This would be a short and easy day, as the route would only take me from the summit of the Col des Marches down to Valmeinier.
I woke up early to admire the remaining stars and the sunrise. The view was so breathtaking that morning that I stayed two hours to admire the view, before starting my day.
The descent was not as steep as the other side of the pass, and I quickly reached Valmeinier around noon.
I had high expectations for this hike as I have been waiting for it for more than a year! It really didn't disappoint. The views were very diverse, from green fields, rocks, lakes, high peaks, gentle mountains... I was initially afraid of having to deal with crowded paths as I just wanted to experience a true solo 5 days backpacking and it ended being a very quiet hike where the people I met were mostly solo backpackers like me. The Mont Thabor is an exceptional mountain, and I was very lucky to have that perfect weather timing at the top. Now that I've done it solo I think I'll want to do the roundtrip again but with longer variants.