A high level path along the slopes beneath the Aiguille Rouges features nonstop, breathtaking views of Mont Blanc range across the l’Arve Valley. Extend the hike with a trip to Lac Blanc.
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Why Hike Grand Balcon Sud – Planpraz to Flegrere
The Grand Balcon Sud (Grand South Balcony), part of the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB), is renowned for its grand views of Mont Blanc massif and the Chamonix Aiguilles (Chamonix Needles). Hikers walking the TMB typically access this high balcony via a steep, rocky climb from Tres Le Champ, which employs metal steps, ladders and handrails to scale sheer rock crags, or the steep trail starting near the Col des Montets.
This hike eliminates the steep climb by using the Planpraz Gondola and/or Flegere Cable Car to gain almost 3,000-ft to the start of the hike either at Planpraz or La Flegere. The hike then travels along a highly scenic route through rocky meadows, scatter trees and occasional scree slopes with uninterrupted views of the Mont Blanc Range. The rugged spires of the Aiguille Rouges (Red Needles), towering above the trail to the northwest
Be advised that short sections of this trail travel through the Planpraz and Flegere ski areas, scarred by ski pistes, lifts and other ski apparatus and buildings. Thankfully the breathtaking views across the valley will distract you from the unattractive areas.
A short version of this hike, which can be walked in either direction, travels along the Balcon Sud between Planpraz to La Flegere using both lifts. Alternatively you can do the trail as an out-and-back hike, enjoying the terrific views from a different perspective on the return journey. Extend the hike with a side trip to Lac Blanc. Alternatively, a longer and more challenging hike creates an amazing loop by combining the Grand Balcon Sud with the trail climbing to Col de Lac Cornu and Col de La Gliere. See the Aiguilles Rouges Loop for more information on the trail to Lac Blanc and the loop.
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