This summer we decided to head up to Refuge du Grenairon for an overnight stay with friends. We've stayed in quite a few of the local refuges but had heard that the views from Grenairon were something else.. The location of the refuge really is stunning with views of Mont Blanc, Rochers des Fiz, Pointe de Sales and the Anterne valley.
The walk starts from the hamlet of Salvagny, which is reached by turning right in Sixt in the direction of Cascade du Rouget.
The walk up is varied, running along the almost dry torrent de Nant Sec, passing through alder woodland and then across some enormous limestone stabs that had the climbers in our group quite excited, before reaching high alpine pastures and then the ridge, which hides the refuge from view until almost the end.
In all, it's just over 1,000 m height gain and although there's nothing technical or challenging about the route up, it's still somewhat disheartening to have it described as "quite easy" in our guide book!
We set off after lunch and certainly felt that we'd earned a beer or two (Brasserie du Mont Blanc La Bleue goes down very easily when it's hot) when we reached the refuge late afternoon.
Dinner was plentiful with lentil soup, a cheesy crozet bake, a stew and potato bake (bit like a shepherd's pie) with the creamiest, cheesiest mashed potato topping I've ever had and pannacotta with blueberries. We also had a lovely bottle of wine from La Feuille de Vigne in Samoëns, which went down so well that we bought another the following day on our return to the valley.
Sunset was wonderful and it was well worth the walk just to see it.
Beds were comfy and the dorms quite spacious. Ear plugs are advisable though - I think I was one of only two people in our large room who managed to sleep through someone's phone alarm going off before dawn; the other being the phone's owner himself!
When we set off the following morning, we were followed quite some distance by the resident goats, some of whom gently nudged us if we stopped or went too slowly!
The route down was a lot less varied - it follows a 4WD track the entire way and is mainly through forest - and although we saw a number of people walking up, we'd definitely recommend tackling it the way we did.
Next time we'll use the refuge as the overnight stop en route to Mt Buet itself, which is another four or so hours and 1,125 m up. Even though we only went part way this time, it's still great to have finally been up the wonderful 'lump' that we see every day from the chalet, and regularly watch turn a beautiful shade of pink in the evening.