Our luxury self catered chalets and apartments in Morzine are the perfect base for your adventure holiday. There are a number of Via Ferrata climbing routes near Morzine. You’ll need a good level of fitness but no climbing experience.
Here is a great ‘how to’ guide from our new blogger Robyn Dobson
Via Ferrata is Italian for Iron Road, and is literally so. Either a traversing route or more of a climb (depending on the difficulty rating) up a rock face, you are attached by harness to 2 “cow tails” – ropes with carabiners at the end – which you clip on to a wire cable that runs the length of the Via Ferrata. This cable follows a route of hand and foot rungs, much like a ladder, which will lead you on a journey of spectacular views and is a different way to get out of your self catered Morzine chalet and make the most of the surrounding mountains
Only 15 minutes drive away, we recommend the Rocher de la Chaux (nicknamed the Elephant’s Head) in Saint Jean d’Aulps: it’s easy enough to find – having followed signs to Saint Jean d’Aulps, park at the Abbey. The signs from here leading you to the start of the Via Ferrata are easy to spot.
Decent footwear (trainers) with a good grip is necessary for any Via Ferrata, and especially so for the Elephant’s Head, with a 20 minute/half hour walk up to the starting point. It is rough terrain so give yourself plenty of time: when you get to the top of the path, you’re only at the bottom of the climb! Late afternoon is the ideal time to take on this challenge: the Via Ferrata takes roughly an hour and a half, so by 5pm the sun is lifting from the rock face to give you enough shade but plenty of time to appreciate the views at the top without having to walk back down in the dark.
A head for heights is a must – the altitude of the summit is 1173metres! Good levels of fitness and good arm strength are also required for the Elephant’s Head, as these are two tough routes: less traversing and more climbing is involved on exposed terrain, with a few sections of overhang depending on the route you choose to take. There are two routes to choose from: a Red and a Black. The Red Route is rated a D+ (difficult), whereas the Black Route is an ED (extremely difficult) and cited as the toughest Via Ferrata in the Haute de Savoie.
The preferable route crosses over both paths. When you start your climb, follow the rungs leading you left and this starts you on the Red Route to comfortably get you into the swing of things, before taking you over the Pont de St Guérin: a short bridge only 10cm wide, traversing over thin air and an entirely unforgettable experience. You can either continue on this route, climbing up and over the Elephants Head, or you come to a point where you can switch on to the Black Route, giving more of a challenge and taking you to the Eye of the Elephant itself.
It’s always best to bring a packpack with you for a Via Ferrata, as the highlight of the trip is to sit at the top of the route, admiring the view, having a break and really appreciating the effort you’ve put in.
Make sure to bring a large bottle of water and some snacks from your self catered chalet (nuts or dried fruit is a great way to get your sugar levels back up).
When you’ve reached the summit, follow signs leading you down the mountain – don’t worry! You don’t go back the way you came.
It is always advisable to do a Via Ferrata in decent weather, as rain will make the metal rungs slippery – if it is warm weather, think about bringing climbing chalk for those sweaty hands. Plan ahead for the Elephant’s Head though: you will want to do the climb after a day’s sunshine, as the adventure isn’t over yet! The route down from the summit can be treacherous at the best of times and you will want to avoid muddy or slippery conditions. The top of the descent is aided by a metal cable to get you down the steeper part and just take your time to get back to the parking safe and sound.
You can hire the essential equipment for the day from Intersport, for only 15€ per person: this includes helmet, harness and “cows tails”.
Intersport Morzine: 180 Rue du Bourg, just by the entrance to Carrefour (climbing section is on the ground floor)
Opening hours in Summer:
Monday-Saturday: 9am-12:15pm, 2:30pm-7:15pm
Sunday: 10am-12:15pm, 4pm-7:15pm
This route is not advisable for children.
If you’re a beginner, it is advised to use a guide or a climbing instructor – http://www.guides-morzine.com/en/summer-activities/via-ferrata/.
If you are interested in a summer holiday in Morzine please get in touch. You can book one of our self catered chalets at any time of the year and if you aren’t tied to school holidays you’ll find some top end chalets and apartments at very reasonable rates.
You can find details of all our self catered holiday rentals and concierge services in Morzine at our website www.elevationalps.com