Champex to Cabane d'Orny via the Col de la Breya.

A circular walk from Champex Lac; ascending via the Bisses to the Arpette valley and then taking the path uphill through forest to the Col de la Beya. Then descending and joining the path to the Cabane d'Orny (refreshments available). The descent is via the path back to the La Breya chair lift taking in an optional ascent of La Breya.

Technical sheet
No. 24811107
A Orsières walk posted on 03/08/22 by Alwayswiththehills. Update : 03/08/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 7h35[?]
Distance Distance : 11.28km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 1521m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 823m
Highest point Highest point : 2827m
Lowest point Lowest point : 1491m
Difficult Difficulty : Difficult
Back to starting point Back to starting point : No
Walking Walking
Areas Areas : Alps, Mont-Blanc (Massif)
Location Location : Orsières
Starting point Starting point : N 46.031754° / E 7.106959°
Ending point Ending point : N 46.021622° / E 7.103169°
Download : -
Statue of Ibex at the Orny Hut with Petit Clocher behind Looking across the Val d' Arpette Rock scenery on the ascent Triangular Niche on route up/down Col de la Breya


Start : Park at the Breya chair lift just west of Lac de Champex.

(D) From Breya chair lift parking, cross the road and walk past the chair lift building, then take the path beneath the chair lift where there is a signpost for the Sentier du Bisse. Follow the path with the stream initially on your left but as you walk uphill, there are steps and bridges which cross the Bisse at various points. You will see how it is has been made and will pass some sluice gates. Eventually, you will ascend to a junction with the TMB path.

(1) Turn right and continue to follow the path uphill beside the Bisse until you arrive at the road just before the Relais d'Arpette. Turn right and walk along the road passing a chalet on the right.

(2) Immediately after the chalet and before you reach the Relais d' Arpette there is a track on the left slanting uphill on in the opposite direction that you have been walking. Take this track for a short distance, it will bend right and lead to another track. Turn right and follow this farmers track uphill, you will have trees on either side. Look out for a minor cross roads where two very minor paths lead off left (uphill) and right (downhill).

(3) Turn left and take the path uphill through the forest. This path is steep in places and there are many sections where there are steps up via tree roots or rocks. It can also be loose underfoot with stones and pine cones, so take care. (If you wish to miss this section out there are easier options see Useful Information) The path emerges from the forest at pt.1986m where it meets the main track descending from the top ski lift station.

(4) Cross the track and take the signposted path ahead of you to (signpost). This leads up less steeply than before through forest (great spot for picking myrtilles) until it emerges in a rocky combe with La Breya up on your left.

The path is marked with white-red-white paint flashes, follow these carefully; at first over boulders and then scree. The path steepens as it ascends, just take your time, particularly towards the top where it can be loose underfoot. It will finish at the Col de la Breya.

(5)Pass over the col and descend, it is easier but there are a few rocky steps. It will ascend a little to another col were there is a triangular niche on the left that you can crawl through or alternatively you can scramble easily over rocks on the right. Now descend to the junction with the path ascending from the ski lift to the Cabane d' Orny.

(6) Turn right and ascend steadily uphill to another path junction, this time on your left at the start of a flatter corrie.

(7) (This path leads up/down from/to Combe d'Orny, It is a nice way up from Champex; (See walk "Champex to Cabane d'Orny and return via La Breya summit and ski lift.") Ignore this path and continue over the corrie floor and then more steeply uphill through small boulders.

At the top, you will have great views of the Petit Clocher du Portalet and come to a third path junction, again on the left. (This path will take you down to Saleinaz in the Val Ferret) Ignore the path and continue up the old moraine crest with the remains of the old Orny hut to your right before a lake then climbs over some slabby rocks to reach the Cabane d'Orny.

(8) The Orny hut is a good place to rest after the long ascent, it is fully equipped and serves refreshments. When recovered, follow your tracks back to (7). Ignore the path on the right and continue along the obvious path on the left, passing (6) then continue along the main path until you are just above the ski lift with La Breya above you on the left.

(9) A faint path on your left leads up through the myrtille bushes. It is easy to lose in ascent and easier to see in descent. It generally heads up through the boulders and avoids the smaller rocks and scree. Take your time and pick your way up carefully, it is not far to the top and the views are good.

(10) Retrace your tracks to (9) and take the broad track to the ski lift or take the lift down to the bottom station and Breya chair lift car park. (A)

Waypoints :
D : km 0 - alt. 1492m - Car Park - Car park
1 : km 1.17 - alt. 1576m - Junction of paths
2 : km 1.37 - alt. 1625m - Chalet
3 : km 2.08 - alt. 1751m - Junction of paths
4 : km 2.53 - alt. 1985m - Junction of paths
5 : km 3.61 - alt. 2395m - Col de la Breya
6 : km 4.27 - alt. 2394m - Junction of Paths
7 : km 4.91 - alt. 2468m - Junction of Paths
8 : km 6.43 - alt. 2827m - Orny Hut
9 : km 10.32 - alt. 2224m - Bottom of La Breya
10 : km 10.6 - alt. 2360m - La Breya Summit
A : km 11.28 - alt. 2190m - Chair Lift

Useful Information

Alternative ways of ascent and descent :

  • Ascent : From Waypoint (2) continue up the road passing the Relaise d' Arpette and walk gently up the valley d'Arpette to where the path splits. The right hand path goes to Fentere d' Arpette, take the left hand track which is the road for the service vehicles for the chair lift. It is longer, but angle and navigation are easier. It will bring to Waypoint (4) where you can take the path up to the Col de la Breya.

Using this walk, the Combe d'Orny walk above and the chair lift it is possible to mix and match to make your own route up and down.

* Descent: From the ski lift it possible to walk down the track used by the service vehicles passing (4).

General Information : Using the Swiss Alpine Club hiking scale; this walk is graded T2, bordering T3 for the section over the Col de la Breya.

Note :
It is recommended to wear walking boots to support the ankle in case of any twists, although in good conditions approach shoes are a bare minimum for those with experience in this type of terrain.

Wear and take appropriate clothing. In good weather it can be hot and hiking shorts and a base layer T shirt are good for walking in. But if the cloud rolls in the temperate will drop significantly and it good to carry additional layers.

Refreshments :
The walk is up to the Orny hut which is fully equipped and you can by refreshments at a premium (all goods are helicoptered in), for example in 2022 a 1.5 litre bottle of water was 10 CHF.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

There is varied and changing scenery. It is great to ascend the Col de la Breya and pass through the different layers of vegetation as you ascend; through the forest, scrub and into rocky terrain.

The views then start to reveal themselves. The Grand and then Petite Clochers du Partalet, the Glacier d'Orny and Aiguilles d'Arpette. The Grand Combin will also be visible.

Plenty of options to shorten or lengthen this walk.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.