Fenetre Lakes, Ferret Valley, European Alps

posted on 9th of august, 2007

Since I saw an image of Grand Goliat mountain (3238m, left image) rising as a claw over the Fenetre Lakes on the cover of a hiking book that I have brought, I decided to get there as soon as possible. This happened about one month ago and in the meanwhile I have documented myself about how to get there...

Wednesday, 1st of August was just a regular summer day for the rest of the world, but in Switzerland it is THE national day, so all offices and shops are closed, but outdoor activities and fireworks were scheduled in all Swiss cities. Furthermore, between a week of rainy or overcast days, the weather forecast previsioned a perfect summer day. It was an easy choice...

From my research on the subject, I have noted that from the Fenetre Lakes a panoramic view over the eastern side of the Mont Blanc Massive is opened on the west, so perfect time of day to enjoy this breath-taking view is sunrise or early morning. As it takes about 2 hours and a half to 3 hours of walking to get to the lakes (2456m) from the closest parking space in the Ferret village (about 1600m altitude), the sunrise was almost impossible to get unless one spends the night on the top. I did not yet got the hang of the camping rules here in Switzerland and neither am I prepared with the tools to performs such an operation, so getting there as soon as possible in the morning was the only choice.

After 1 hour and half of driving and 3 hours of climbing (a tough one - about 800m altitude difference) we managed to get at the lakes around 11 o'clock, at least 1 hour and a half later than my plan, but still in time for some good daytime shots without the bright light of the noon. The panorama from the first lake was exceptional: Grand Goliat, Mont Dolent (3820m, at the top of, the border of Switzerland, Italy and France meet), Grandes Jorasses (4208m), Aguille de Lesehaux (3759m), Aguille de Telefre (3730m), Aguille de Triolet (3870m) and at some certain angles, even Mont Blanc (4808m) itself as a white peak behind the rocky range...

Around the small streams that supply the lakes with water, fresh green abundant vegetation was to be found. To capture the bright green color in the mid-day light, I have used the camera's flash, and with patience, one can find windless moments to capture clear reflection in the deep blue water of the lake.

Slowly we visited each lake... The first three pictures were taken at the first one (2456m). At the second lake (2512m), around the streams, a dense meadow was colored from time to time with white puffy flowers, as seen in the left picture. The third lake (2405m, right image), although the lowest one, was surrounded by rocks, more than the meadows that could be found in the vicinity of the first two...

Although when we arrive there were hardly any people around, with each hour that passes, more and more hikers started populating the water edge. Through some conversation, we found out that there is a much easier route to the lakes, starting from the Grand Saint Bernard refuge, with only two hours of walking and a altitude difference of only 500 meters. Most of the hiking routes in Switzerland pass around a refuge of a cabin, open during summer, when one can eat or drink something, but there is no such place in the vicinity of the lakes, their natural beauty remaining so, untouched...

As we were planing to attend the fireworks organized that day in Lausanne, at the edge of Geneva (Leman) Lake, we hurried back home, where we arrive by 6 o'clock in the evening. Unfortunately, the long way back made its mark on ourselves and we were more than tired to attend the festival, but we watched the fireworks from our apartment building garden...

As you also can probably appreciate, I was more than happy with the harvest of landscape images that I have took during this short excursion, but I have made myself a note to come back and watch the sunrise from the lakes sometime in the future...

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Photo credits: Mihai-bogdan Lazar.

About me

Visited places: EUROPE - Austria [Hallstatt, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna], Belgium [Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven], Bosnia & Herzegovina [Mostar], Croatia [Dubrovnik, Zagreb], France [Annecy, Besancon, Chamonix, Colmar, Dijon, Grenoble, Honfleur, Loire Valley, Lyon, Nancy, Nice, Metz, Monaco, Mont St-Michel, Paris, Puy-en-Velay, Strasbourg], Germany [Baden-Baden, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hohenschwangau, Lindau, Munich], Hungary [Budapest, Szeged], Iceland, Italy [Camogli, Como, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Pisa, Portofino, Rome, Siena, Sirmione, Turin, Trieste, Venice], Luxembourg [Luxembourg], Montenegr... [Read more]

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