- Starting point: Bourg-St-Pierre, on the road to Grand St-Bernard
- Total duration: 5 hours
- Difficulty: T2 - Mountain Hikes
- KMZ file for Google Earth
- Profile (up & down):
- Aloneness index:
Links (click on flag):
Cabane du Vélan
Of both huts which are nestled in the preserved valley of Valsorey, the one of Vélan can be reached the most easily, which is logic as it is located 500 meters lower than the hut of Cabane de Valsorey which is situated opposite to it. This building is rather futuristic and should interest not only hikers but also architects and city planners.
As the first part of the journey is the same as the hike to the hut of Valsorey, I will not bother to rewrite it but shall only copy and paste the first three paragraphs:
It is easy to reach the starting point located on the road going to the Grand-St-Bernard and coming out of a town called Bourg-St-Pierre by public transport (the postal bus). If you have a vehicle, you may be able to park it higher up, along the small road with a sign saying "Valsorey." I say "try" because the parking possibilities are limited.
You first take a broad path leading to two old stone chalets roofed with slate. A sign shows an estimated time of 3:45 hours remaining until the hut. The trail climbs gently to the left of the brook. Valsorey and the valley broadens gradually to then be barred in the background by the Needles of Valsorey. Yes, everything bears the name of Valsorey in this valley of ... Valsorey :-) You can still find the Valsorey glacier, which will soon be visible, and a peak of the Grand Combin which carries the name of Combin de Valsorey!
After a little more than an hour's walk, the path splits so that you can either turn right to go to the hut of Vélan which is on the other side of the torrent, or continue to the hut of Valsorey. If you follow the S-shaped Moraine, you can see the futuristic outline of the hut of Vélan.
Here ends the copy and paste! Because now you cross the bridge going over the Valsorey torrent. You continue over a flat area and then pass in front of a sort of tombstone or stele commemorating an avalanche tragedy. At this point, at the altitude of 2258m (7408ft), the final climb laces begin. Our goal is about 400 meters away which, unfortunately, we no longer can see the hut as it has disappeared for a moment from our sight. This is a blow, as we do not know whether we are still far or not. However, the trail which is in excellent condition enables us to progress without too much suffering.
The hut reappears to our sight when you are at a 15-minute distance from the total 60 minutes for this final climb. There are beautiful views of the Mount Vélan, a north face that rises up to 3731m (12241ft), and of the Grand Combin. Here you can try to locate the hut of Valsorey. Although it is just opposite, it is not easy to see it.
The hut of Vélan has been built in a modern way and is apparently the most comfortable and welcoming. The choice of dishes offered by the hut-keeper was in any case rather nourishing. I have kept a good memory of the vegetable soup. Two hours are enough to return to Bourg-Saint-Pierre.