A strenuous day hiking over the Col de Torrent followed by a climb to the Cabane de Moiry features amazing views of the glacier-clad summits towering above the Val d’Herens, the Val d’Arolla and the Val de Moiry. The challenging climb to the hut features breathtaking view of the Moiry Glacier.
La Sage Villaz to Col Torrent
Distance from Trailhead: 3.7 miles (one way)
Ending/Highest Elevation: 9,576-ft.
Elevation Gain: 3,860-ft.
The trail from Les Hauderes to the Col de Torrent is 5.9 miles and gains of almost 4,800-feet. If you are a purist and wish to walk the entire way – go for it. Otherwise, I strongly recommend taking the bus from the Les Hauderes Post to La Sage, Villaz. The six minute ride reduced the distance by 2.2 miles and eliminates 900-ft. from the climb. It also allows you to get to the pass earlier in the day, always a good idea for the best views and to beat the clouds that typically build in the afternoons. (See trailhead directions below.)
From the bus stop in the small village of La Sage Villaz, walk back down the main road about 150-feet and turn left (northeast) on a road with hiking signs pointing toward Mayens de Cotter (50-min), Col de Torrent (3-hr 15-min) and Moiry Barrage (dam) (4-hr 45-min). At the next intersection turn right in the direction of Col de Torrent and Grimentz. Shorty beyond the turn the road curves to the left (northeast) and starts climbing steeply through pastures. As you ascend views open to Pigne d’ Arolla (12,454-ft.) at the head of the Arolla Valley to the southwest.
Soon the road curves to the right (northwest) and changes to a dirt track. At 0.4 miles reach a junction where you continue straight ahead on a road ascending along the right (southeast) side of a small stream. (Do not turn left on the road crossing the stream).
Where the road makes a hairpin curve to the right, we bear slightly left on a trail that continues ascending alongside the creek. A wood sign at the junctions points toward the Col de Torrent and Cotter.
Soon the trail crosses the creek on a wood bridge and then curves to the right (north/northeast) zig-zagging steeply up the hillside through pretty pastures. Views open southeast to Dent Blanche and the massive glacier field at the head of the Val d’Herens.
Pass a junction with a minor trail branching to the left (north) toward Cotter and Volovron at 0.6 miles. Continue on the main trail ascending toward the Col de Torrent.
At 0.8 miles turn right (east) onto a gravel road and travel a short distance along the road as it skirts the north side of a stone house. Past the house, where the road curves to the left, a signed trail branches left toward the Col de Torrent. Follow the trail as it climbs on moderate grades through pastures, cutting off a long switchback on the road. As you climb, enjoy stunning views of the high peaks and glaciers at the head of the Val d’Herens and the Arolla Valley to the south.
Reach Mayens de Cotter, a small hamlet, and the continuation of the road at 1.1 miles. Turn left on the road in the direction of Cotter (5-min), Beplan (1-hr 15-min) and the Col de Torrent (2-hr 15-min). Pass two houses on the left (south) side of the road. Just before reaching a house on the right (north) side of the road, take the trail branching to the right (northwest) signed for the Beplan, Col de Torrent and Moiry Barrage (dam).
The trail now climbs through pastures in a northerly direction on long, steep switchbacks. As you ascend, splendid views open to Les Aiguilles Rouges d’Arolla, a ridge of jagged peaks along the west side of the Arolla Valley. To the north Les Diablerets rises above the Rhone Valley.
At 1.9 miles arrows on a rock insure your follow the trail as it curves to the left (northwest). The grade now eases a bit as the path continues its ascent up the east side of the valley. Ahead is a cross mounted on a rock outcropping. Soon views open to the ridge separating the Val d’Herens and the Val de Moiry. The peak rising to the north on the ridge is Sasseneire. The saddle of the ridge to the southeast of Sasseneire is the Col de Torrent.
The trail curves to the right at 2.3 miles, heading northeast toward the ridge. Reach a small pond at Beplan (8,320-ft.) at 2.6 miles. Follow the trail as it skirts the east side of the pond and soon curves to the right (northeast), ascending steeply toward the pass. At 3.3 miles start the final steep climb to the pass on a series of tight switchbacks ascending through rocky meadows and scree covered slopes.
Reach the Col de Torrent (9,576-ft.) at 3.7 miles. Here a magnificent panorama of high peaks, including the Grande Dent De Veisivi, Mont Brule, Pigne d’Arolla, Les Aiguilles Rouges d’Arolla, Mont Blanc de Cheilon and the Grand Combin, dominate the view to the southwest. Dent d’Herens peeks above the Glacier de Ferpecle and Glacier du Mont Mine flowing down the flanks of the Tete Blanche at the head of the Val d' Herens. To the east the Weisshorn looms above the low ridges lining the eastern wall of the Moiry Valley. Below the east side of the pass the Lac de Autannes glistens in the sun.
Col Torrent to Cabane de Moiry
Distance from Trailhead: 9.5 miles (one way)
Ending/Highest Elevation: 9,268-ft.
Elevation Gain: 5,726-ft.
- Distance from Col Torrent to Cabane de Moiry: 5.8 miles
- Elevation at Cabane de Moiry: 9,256-ft.
- Elevation Gain/Loss for the segment: 1,866-ft./-2,174-ft.
When you are ready to continue the hike, follow the trail as it drops steeply down the east side of the pass. Soon views open to the peaks on the ridge rimming the east side of the Moiry Valley and the summits rising beyond the ridge in the Zinal Valley. At 4.4 miles the grade eases as the trail passes to the north of the Lac des Autannes. The lake enjoys wonderful views of Dent Blanche, the Grand Cornier and the Glacier de Moiry spilling down the cirque at the head of the Val de Moiry. The lake is a popular picnic spot and a great place to take a break.
Beyond the lake the views toward the head of the valley continues to expand and improve. At 5.0 miles the grade steepens as the trail drops through pretty meadows. Reach a junction just past an interesting stone building (and before reaching the Alpage de Torrent). Here we turn right (south/southeast) on the trail toward the head of the Lac de Moiry, the Moiry Glacier and the Cabane de Moiry. The path straight ahead leads to the Moiry Barrage (Dam) (50-min) and Grimentz (2-hr 20-min).
The trail now descends steeply through meadows to the path circling the Lac de Moiry at 6.1 miles. Ahead are terrific views of the high peaks and glaciers at the head of the Val de Moiry. Turn right (south) on the trail paralleling the lake shore and head toward the Cabane de Moiry. At the head of the lake the trail continues south/southeast, traveling through meadows on easy grades and then crossing a metal bridge over the lake’s inlet stream at 6.9 miles. Beyond the stream the trail ascends to join the road at 7.4 miles.
Walk south along the road for a short distance, passing through a parking lot toward Lac de Chateaupre, a meltwater pond at the foot of the Moiry Glacier. Soon you will see signs pointing left (southeast) toward a broad track heading to the Cabane de Moiry (1-hr 25-min). Follow the trail as it skirts the north side of the Lac de Chateaupre, ascending through rocky meadows on easy grades. Views extend southeast to the Moiry Glacier. The Pointe de Mourti and Pointe de Moiry rise to the west above the river of ice.
At 7.8 miles the grade steepens as the path climbs the hillside along the east side of the glacier. Pass a junction at 8.1 miles with a trail, the Haute Tour de Lac 2500m, branching left toward the Barrage de Moiry, Sorebois and Zinal. We continue straight ahead toward the Moiry Hut.
Beyond the junction the grade eases as the trail ascends atop the lateral moraine running along the east side of the glacier. At 8.3 miles the trail curves to the south, dops off the moraine crest and then travels up a rocky gully to the left (east) of the moraine. Use trails split off from the main track and climb to viewpoints along the moraine.
At 8.7 miles the trail starts climbing a series of very steep switchbacks up a rocky hillside, gaining 800-ft. in a half mile. Turn around and look northwest for nice views of the Pointe du Tsate and Sasseneire rising above the west side of the Lac de Moiry. Directly across the valley is the Couronne de Breona.
The grade abates at 9.3 miles and soon reaches the Cabane de Moiry (9,268-ft.), an old stone hut with a modern copper-clad addition. at 9.4 miles. From the hut enjoy splendid, bird’s-eye-views of the Moiry glacier.
For the best views follow a use trail that travels around the east side of the hut and then climbs to a rocky overlook (9,300-ft.) at 9.5 miles. To the north the glacier, covered with a morass of seracs and crevasses, spills down a steep incline. Pointe de Mourti, Tsa de l’Ano and Points de Moiry tower above the valley to the west. Pigne de la Le dominates the view to the south.
Note: There is a bus that runs from the Moiry Glacier parking lot to Grimentz and Zinal that is helpful if you run into bad weather or member of your party are unable to reach the hut. See the trailhead directions (below) for more information.
From Les Hauderes Centre: Take Bus 383 in the direction of La Forclaz and get off at La Sage, Villaz. From the bus stop in the small village of La Sage, Villaz, walk back down the main road for about 150-feet and turn left (east) on a road with hiking signs pointing toward Mayens de Cotter (50-min), Col de Torrent (3-hr 15-min) and Moiry Barrage (dam) (4-hr 45-min). The ride to La Sage, Villaz from the Les Hauderes takes 6 minutes and saves almost 900-ft. of altitude gain. Schedules are posted at the bus stop at the square in the center of Les Hauderes, online at the SBB website and on the SBB app.
From the Moiry Glacier to Grimentz or Zinal: At the parking lot below the Moiry Glacier, board a bus headed toward Zinal or Vissoie. There are several stops in Grimentz, about a 28 minute ride from the dam. If you are headed to Zinal, the best bet is to catch a bus headed directly to Zinal. Otherwise, take the Vissoie Bus to Vissoie where you need to change for a bus headed up valley to Zinal. The direct buses take a little over 45 minutes. If you need to change at Vissoie the ride will take an hour and 45 minutes or more, depending on the time of day. Schedules are posted at the bus stop, online at the SBB website and on the SBB app.
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