Traverse of Mont Joly and Aiguille Croche

A good ridge walk starting from the Bettex telecabin station at Mont d'Arbois and finishing at Le Signal telecabin station above Les-Contamines-Montjoie.

Technical sheet No. 2257716

A Saint-Gervais-les-Bains walk posted on 08/07/19 by Alwayswiththehills. Last update : 16/07/19
Calculated time Calculated time: 6h45[?]
Distance Distance : 14.06 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 955 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 903 m
Highest point Highest point : 2,518 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 1,799 m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : No
Walking Walking
Location Location : Saint-Gervais-les-Bains (74190|74170)
Starting point Starting point : N 45.85493° / E 6.66948°
Ending point Ending point : N 45.78671° / E 6.69401°
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Mont Blanc Massif Mont Blanc massif Towards the Tete du Veleray


From St-Gervais-Les-Bains, take the telecabin du Bettex up to Mont d'Arbois.

(D) Leave the cable car station and take path south-east to a junction with a good track.

(1) Take the good track past a building on the right and on to another building in front of a ski tow. The track splits here.

(2) Take the left-hand fork on the track, pass under the ski tow and follow the track, taking a right-hand turn onto a path leading to Col du Christ.

(3) At Col du Christ, take the right-hand track to another split in the track.

(4) This time, take the left-hand track up to Pavillon du Mont Joly.

(5) At the building, take the lesser path leading uphill via zig-zags and pass over Mont Geroux. Continue up and along the ridge to the summit of Mont Joly.

(6) From the summit of Mont Joly, take the grassy and in some places rocky ridge in a southwards direction to Tete de la Combaz.

(7) At Tete de la Combaz, follows the ridge in a more southwesterly direction to the Tete du Veleray.

(8) After the Tete du Veleray, the ridge becomes rockier and has a steep drop to the north (right as you walk along it) so take care as you continue the traverse to the Aiguille Croche.

(9) From the top of the Aiguille Croche, descend a ridge in a south-east direction on a path that zig-zags and passes a ski tow.

(10) Then, turn south and zig-zag down the ridge to join a good track.

(11) Turn right at the track and follow it, passing the Chalet du Joly and the Col du Joly.

(12) At the Col du Joly, take the track to Le Signal. From here, take the cable car down to Les-Contamines-Montjoie or walk down if you prefer.

Waypoints :
D : km 0 - alt. 1,825 m - Cable car station - Mont d'Arbois
1 : km 0.24 - alt. 1,804 m
2 : km 0.76 - alt. 1,857 m
3 : km 1.68 - alt. 1,898 m - Col du Christ - Col du Christ
4 : km 2.18 - alt. 1,919 m
5 : km 2.67 - alt. 2,000 m - Pavillon du Mont Joly
6 : km 4.55 - alt. 2,516 m - Mont Joly - Mont Joly
7 : km 5.76 - alt. 2,431 m - Tete de la Combaz
8 : km 7.04 - alt. 2,448 m - Tete du Veleray
9 : km 8.76 - alt. 2,457 m - Aiguille Croche
10 : km 9.05 - alt. 2,398 m
11 : km 9.98 - alt. 2,175 m
12 : km 12.15 - alt. 1,988 m - Col du Joly - Col du Joly
A : km 14.06 - alt. 1,870 m - Cable car station - Le Signal

Useful Information

There are few ski tows where some shelter can be found from rain but only the main telecabins will be open in the summer months.

The ridge can be exposed; when we did the walk it was in and out of cloud all day. Hot when out of the cloud and in the sun but cold when in the cloud. Check the forecast and take appropriate clothing for all eventualities and be prepared to turn around or descend if the weather turns. I would not want to be up here in a thunderstorm.

The latter part of the ridge has steeper drops and you can avoid these by descending from the Tete du Veleray to a track that contours the hillside to point 11.

When we did this walk we were staying in Les Contamines Montjoie. We took our car and parked at the Bettex telecabin station. Once we had finished the walk I cycled (freewheeled) down to Saint Gervais, put the bike on its rack and drove back. Alternatively, there is a good public bus service up and down the valley.

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

The views of the Mont Blanc Massif are the main attraction of this walk and the walk itself is interesting once you have left the tracks at point 5.

This walk can be combined with others...

Col de la Fenetre
Lacs Jovet out and Return
Refuge de Tre la Tete

For example, it would be possible to leave the Col du Joly and join up with the path leading over the Col de la Fenetre. From there you could descend to the valley and walk up to Lacs Jovet and/or return via the Refuge de Tre la Tete.

Other walks in the area

distance 13.65 km Vertical gain +838 m Vertical drop -838 m Duration 6h20 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Les Contamines-Montjoie - 74 - Haute-Savoie

A circular walk from Les Contamines Montjoie up to the Refuge de tré la Tete and views of the Tré la Tete glacier, then descending to Combe Noire to the waterfalls before returning past the pretty chapel of Notre Dame de la Gorge.

Lacs Jovet out and return
distance 18.03 km Vertical gain +1,043 m Vertical drop -1,043 m Duration 8h10 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Les Contamines-Montjoie - 74 - Haute-Savoie

From Les Contamines-Montjoie; an out and return walk to the Lacs Jovet, joining and following the Tour du Mont Blanc trail for most of the way. There are more challenging alternatives to this walk to make it longer, more circular or technically harder; these are described in the useful information section.

distance 12.44 km Vertical gain +394 m Vertical drop -1,094 m Duration 4h40 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Les Contamines-Montjoie - 74 - Haute-Savoie

This walk starts from the top of the gondola at Le Signal. It is an interesting walk, up to and through the Col de la Fenetre. The descent takes you back down through alpine pastures and into the valley leading back to Les Contamines-Montjoie.

⚠️ Please note that you need to park at (A) and not (D) for this walk ⚠️

Trou de la Mouche
distance 8.85 km Vertical gain +1,048 m Vertical drop -1,046 m Duration 5h30 Very difficult Very difficult
Starting point Starting point in La Clusaz - 74 - Haute-Savoie

A steep walk to a natural rock arch, the Trou de la Mouche (Fly Hole). The section up to the Trou is steep and loose in places, the initial descent is also steep but soon eases off. This route, although shown on IGN maps, is not marked with paint flashes. Signposts at the start of the route make this clear so make sure you have a map and compass.

The walk is best done in the direction described, and best done a clear, dry day.

Refuge de la Bombardellaz circular
distance 10.26 km Vertical gain +748 m Vertical drop -747 m Duration 5h05 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Le Grand-Bornand - 74 - Haute-Savoie

A circular walk, at first uphill through woodland where the shade can be a relief, then over open mountain pastures to Le Planet before returning downhill to the start.

Lac de Tardevant and the summit of L'Ambrevetta and Tardevant
distance 12.97 km Vertical gain +1,146 m Vertical drop -1,143 m Duration 7h00 Difficult Difficult
Starting point Starting point in La Clusaz - 74 - Haute-Savoie

A great walk for the family. You can choose between going to the lake and back or going right up to the top. The latter is easier than it looks and is actually less steep than the ascent to the lake.You will be rewarded with magnificent views.

Col des Annes to the Refuge Gramusset and back via Col de Borne Ronde
distance 8.90 km Vertical gain +633 m Vertical drop -633 m Duration 4h20 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in Le Grand-Bornand - 74 - Haute-Savoie

A circular walk to the Gramusset Refuge through great limestone scenery.

distance 7.30 km Vertical gain +571 m Vertical drop -932 m Duration 3h45 Moderate Moderate
Starting point Starting point in La Clusaz - 74 - Haute-Savoie

A great pointy summit with a cross on top and good views followed by a descent of Borderan Combe. This could easily be done in reverse and/or without the use of the cable cars.

For more walks, use our search engine.

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