In a glimpse:
- Start: Gros Mont, linked to Charmey with a tiny road.
- Duration (ascent only): 1 ½ hour till Chalet des Marrindes. For Selle des Morteys, add 45 minutes. The Vanil Noir summit adds 30 more minutes (estimated) on a somewhat perilous ridge.
- Difficulty: T2 - Mountain Hikes (until Selle des Morteys), T4 - Alpine Hikes (for the Vanil Noir ascent)
- Last done: July 2001
- Local weather forecast: Broc, #0900-57306x 266
- KMZ for Google Earth
- Profile (ascent):
Bibliography:2, 10, 22, 32, 40, 49
Chalet Les Marrindes, Vallon des Morteys, Vanil Noir
The Chalet des Marrindes (1868m, 6128ft) is certainly among the most interesting excursion goals in the whole Fribourg region. One of the reasons is that it takes place in a natural reserve (Les Morteys), another is the proximity of the Vanil Noir (2389m, 7838ft), the canton's highest mountain. Those who are surefooted can even consider climbing it.
This valley will be enjoyed by different kind of hikers. All will have the common pleasure of spending the day in one of the best landscapes that the Prealps can offer, nestled between the rocks of Dents de Bimis and the pyramid-shaped Dent de Folliéran, and with the Gastlosen ridge further north.
The casual walker will appreciate the easy trail leading to the chalet, where meals are served, and can decide to go further up to Selle des Morteys for a better view.
2 - Young ibexes
The nature-oriented hiker will greatly enjoy the rich animal life and flora of a natural reserve. In no other place did I witness so many ibexes, and so tame that they had settled only a few meters away from the trail. In those circumstances, respecting the reserves regulation that animals should not be disturbed was an impossible task. Actually, we almost had to ask the ibexes to give way to us (only a slight exaggeration) :-) A 30-page booklet edited by Pro Natura helps to understand the surrounding nature better. It can be obtained at Chalet des Marrindes or at the regional tourist offices (Bulle, Charmey, Gruyère) and gives numerous explanations on the botanical, geological and zoological levels. I do not know whether it is available in english, though.
Finally, the sportsman/sportswoman or the experienced hiker can spice up this easy hike by continuing on the summital ridge of Vanil Noir. Other variations are possible, like the one which takes the route to Bounavaux for the descent.
Allow me a last remark about the access to the Vanil Noir. Although I had climbed the summit as a child, this time I did not feel like venturing on the narrow ridge and stopped a few meters under the summit.
Starting at Selle (saddle) des Morteys, the normal route follows the whole ridge, first going up Tête de l'Herbette, the gray pyramid which is over the Marrindes' roof in the picture 1. Another marked trail starting at Selle des Morteys allows to bypass most of this narrow ridge: it crosses a scree slope and a cliff, requiring at places some easy rock climbing, and then goes up slopes where snow often stays late in the summer, until it makes the junction with the first trail high up the ridge, very close to the summit. Unfortunately, the trickiest place is still ahead: the very exposed Pas de Borière, a small gap in the final ridge which is equipped with cables but should not be attempted by people who do not feel confident enough.